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Ephel Duath, Negura Bunget, Era Vulgaris - May 8, 2007 - Dublin, Ireland @ Voodoo Lounge

By: Ken McGrath

Itís a pity more people didn't see Era Vulgaris as it got the show on the road at Voodoo Lounge since the slowly rising prog metal act is out to make an impression. Itís a brave band that opens a support slot with an instrumental, especially one that surpasses 10 minutes, but the group pulled it off with the intricate "Imram." The wandering, metallic pulse of "Harmonic Discontent" brought images of Opeth to mind, while the thrashier "I Want Your Brain" showed a refusal to sit still.

Less interesting, howeveródespite the fact that a large portion of the crowd appeared to be there to witness itówas Negura Bunget, who mixes black metal with more ethnic and traditional flavors. It had enough going on to at least tweak our interest for a few minutes before we realized that behind the odd veneer the band actually just plays your standard fare. Xylophone, pan pipes, weird percussion and what looked like a door made up its musical armory, alongside the more usual guitar, bass, drums and keyboard. The band uses everything as best it can, but itís just not that good.

Once the headliners took the stage though, it was on. The three-man jazz metal combo that is Ephel Duath walked out and instantly launched into what sounded like the aftermath of a car bomb explosion on a particularly busy shopping street. Thereís no room for error in a three-piece made up of just a guitar, vocals and drums. No bass, nothing. Not that it needed it. Filling the space with a sound that had no logical pattern or form, the band was stuck together as if it was tied up back to back in bubble wrap and trying to escape by pulling in different directions from a center that held them all in place. Itís going somewhere, but nowhere youíd expect. All we could do is stand before them flipping out, either rocking back and forth or staring in bafflement.

The stage is barren-looking, especially at the frontóa dangerous place to be, as one attendee found out when he was grabbed by vocalist Luciano George. He then tried to drag him up to sing along but ended up smacking him by the ribs into the stage lip instead. George was fairly aggravated, constantly warning that the band was going to walk off if the crowd didn't move down the floor to fill the space in front of it. Thankfully the band played a full set, its anger clearly leaving an impression. On leaving the venue afterwards, plenty of people scurried around. Many made their way to the merchandise stand to shake hands with the Ephel Duath guys, who happily signed autographs and accepted praise, while most others stood around commenting on how they may not have liked the show but they certainly couldnít say it was bad. A diverse and sometimes difficult night out in the capital. We could use more like these.


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