Altar of Plagues – The Siege of Limerick, Dolan’s Warehouse 8/4/12

The seventh instalment of the biannual Siege of Limerick has been, unsurprisingly, a resounding success. With a bill that featured some of the finest Irish bands from each corner of the island, including a stunning set from Shardborne, possibly their best yet, From the Bogs of Aughiska providing something genuinely different during the day and Rites totally delivering the sludgy goods as well as Germany’s Valborg delighting with their progged out death/doom. All of that pales in comparison though to the headliners – Altar of Plagues, the Siege’s biggest headliners yet.
Photo: Bad Reputation
The Cork post black metal outfit have truly earned the enigmatic status that they currently enjoy, all galvanised by last year’s lauded Mammal record. With a set spanning over an hour, the band straight away captivate all on hand when the solemn opening of ‘Neptune Is Dead’ begins to enter. Launching into the hypnotic blastbeats and corrosive, pained vocals, the 18 minute oeuvre is a sight and sound to behold.
Followed by ‘Earth: I As A Womb’ and ‘II: As A Furnace’, the band take us back to their jaw dropping White Tomb record. Dave Condon and James O’Ceallaigh’s vocals sound utterly revolting, their vitriol is just palpable, complemented by drummer Johnny King holding down a relentless barrage of blasts. His performance is near flawless, despite being lost behind a smog of lights and stage smoke that completely hide the drum kit from view.
Finally, it’s the lush ‘Feather & Bone’, which eventually breaks into something of an improv towards the song’s end, Dave Condon takes the mic away from the stand and with it being difficult to see with all smoke, creates a some harsh noise with what looks like a beer can placed to the mic. Meanwhile, James discards his guitar to take up an extra floor tom to add more to the tribal drums already reverberating around Dolan’s. To call it a dramatic close is quite the understatement.
Agonisingly, Altar of Plagues so rarely play their own country these days, this being their first Irish show in nearly two years. With the success of this absolutely captivating set, hopefully that will change. It needs to. And finally, The Siege of Limerick continues to grow and grow and bigger things must surely be around the corner for the eighth edition in October.
And here’s some rough footage someone took of ‘Earth: I As A Womb’.

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