A continental crowd has descended upon Dublin to bear witness to the second Redemption Festival following the success of its first outing in 2013. Expanded to two nights, it sees Primordial headline again, this time to launch their profound new album, Where Greater Men Have Fallen, with a heroic two-hour performance.
Firstly, however, MALTHUSIAN  bring new meaning to ‘Black Friday’ with their malodorous black/death/doom amalgam beckoning Lovecraftian dread upon the Academy’s stage. Taking the place of the absent Necros Christos are DROWNED , and their grisly style of death metal lands between Grave and Asphyx but lacks the requisite rawness live. After Drowned, the anticipation around DEAD CONGREGATION  is palpable, and the Hellenic horde’s death metal syncopations immolate those closest to the front.
As the house lights dim, PRIMORDIAL  receive a welcome befitting returning warriors and they waste no time performing the stirring title track off their latest album; the first of many new songs aired among battle-torn classics like The Coffin Ships and Empire Falls. Alan Averill, a modern day seanachaí, remains one of the most magnetic and emotive frontmen in metal. Tonight, his theatrical motions and impassioned vocals summon the weight of a troubled nation whose history is founded on poverty and pain but also survival through stubborn determination.
The confined space of the Voodoo Lounge for the Saturday feeds the aphotic death metal atmosphere created by VIRCOLAC’s  tight debut performance. In contrast, WIZARDS OF FIRETOP MOUNTAIN  add some refreshing levity to proceedings through upbeat doom-rock and NWOBHM gallop, while Alan’s other band, DREAD SOVEREIGN , keep energy levels high with their Candlemass worship and a fun cover of Venom’s Live Like An Angel (Die Like A Devil), the Primordial leader confirming he’s as comfortable commanding the stage armed with a bass as he is preaching from the pulpit.
Punters push closer to the stage to get a better view of the shirtless and heavily tattooed guitarist/vocalist of BÖLZER , KzR, who cuts a striking figure, bathed in piercing blue light and backed by heavy-hitting drummer HzR. Steppes and Entranced By The Wolfshook are the discordant soundtrack to being cast headlong into a fiery abyss, and tonight both songs show exactly why this duo have earned massive hype.
Such a spectacle could swallow a lesser band, but blackened death/doom purveyors THE RUINS OF BEVERAST  hold their ground as headliners and finish what has been a hugely important weekend for live metal in Ireland on a dramatic high, with the apex coming during a powerful and pertinent rendition of I Raised This Stone As A Ghastly Memorial./o:p