No Spill Blood & Lamp Review
Ever since exploding onto the scene courtesy of an arresting performance on the Irish indie music documentary A Joyful Slog, No Spill Blood have been furiously ploughing through all that dares to stand before them.
Any unit featuring members of respected Irish outfits Adebesi Shank, Hands Up Who Wants To Die, Elk and Magik Pockets, was always likely to ratchet up a considerable level of excitement, interest and expectation.
However, the uncompromising and relentlessly propulsive synth powered racket generated by the trio – part punk-rock fury, part progressive-rock fluidity – managed to take pretty much everyone by surprise. The strength alone of the performance captured in A Joyful Slog was enough to land the group a deal with influential independent label Sargent House.
The momentum and good-will was sustained with the release of their 2012 EP Street Meat. Now the band return to the Triskel (they previously played here as part of a We Are Noise / Plugd weekender in 2012) armed with a batch of new songs from their upcoming album. Anticipation amongst the gathered throngs is high. But before the spectacle of blood on the dance floor, there’s the not inconsiderable talents of Cork prog-rockers Lamp to consider and savour.
The trio are an awkward proposition for the uninitiated. There’s a definite touch of Primus about this lot, which means that any sort of nod towards convention is fleeting at best. Disjointed and disorientating – but in a good way – you’d be well advised to check them out and try and make sense of it yourself.
No Spill Blood take to the stage next. Synth-man Ruadhan O’Meara begins proceedings by setting of a circular arpeggiated pattern that echoes around the room. After a minute or two drummer Lar Kaye enters the fray and we’re well and truly underway. Kaye is all power and no frills, similar in a way to the Krautrock drummers of yore in his economical use of fills, but delivering his beats with the gusto of a hard-core sticks-man. There’s no let-up and everything is delivered with a laser-like precision.
Bassist Matt Hedigan and O’Mara flesh out the sound, locking together in a powerful unison, continuously hammering away in the lower depths of the frequency spectrum. O’Mara’s array of vintage analogue synthesizers add serious weight to the groups sound but also rich tones and textures, the sort that wouldn’t be out of place on the Italian horror movie auteur Dario Argento’s soundtracks.
They rely heavily on repetition with the occasional tangent thrown in to keep things from getting too predictable. Hedigan’s vocals are delivered in a throaty howl, drenched in reverb and a slight delay that make it sound like he’s yelling from the bottom of a dark, dank pit.
The group essentially has two gears – powerful, driving riffs that sound like they’ve been lifted from an old arcade game and given some megawatt amplification, and the more lush and eerily atmospheric ‘Argento’ passages that allow dim shafts of light into an otherwise claustrophobic and unrelenting sound – and they switch between them with the consummate ease and conviction of a group that knows exactly what it’s about.
The new material debuted tonight doesn’t stray too far from that template. Not that it seems to bother those in attendance one bit. The mantra here, going by the positive reaction, would appear to be ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
The brevity of the EP format certainly worked to their favor, their sound never overstaying its welcome. Here, as the group flitted between their EP material and their newer songs the initial brute-force impact lessened somewhat as the set progressed.
But the conviction never wavers and they keep driving forward, relentlessly pushing the decibels as the sound of the bass, drums and synths congeals and washes over the audience. Their last number in particular manages to raise the intensity levels a notch, one final flourish as the group finish on a high. Can they keep it going? Watch this space…