Gig Report – Horrenda – On The Rox – 18-06-16, Dublin
First, thanks to Joe for giving me the guest spot here to write this piece for his truly fantastic site. My name is Darragh O’Connor or Outis from the Irish black metal band Horrenda. My Twitter is @DarraghWV. Joe has asked me to write an account of what goes into a Horrenda show and the things that we try to achieve with our shows.
Horrenda as a band is an odd one but it has a number of different thing going on at once rather than being a standard gigging band; we don’t gig that much so when we do we try to make it impactful and something that the crowd, any crowd, will remember rather than just “being another band.” Don’t get me wrong, I love playing shows and I love performing in front of crowds and all that other good stuff.
However, I always wanted Horrenda to unique; we like working in the familiar tropes of black metal (corpse paint, stylistic guitar playing, specific extreme metal guitar tones, screeching/guttural vocals and fast drumming) but to fuse with overt political and social themes wrapped up in Irish identity and in a mythological setting.
The hard part for me was trying to get the ethos of the recordings into the live shows while still making it a live experience for our audience and making the fans happy. Thanks to Gavin Doyle and my time helping out on bass in Axial Symmetry, I learned a lot as far as creating live samples and ambient noise through the live set that blend with the performers rather than being jarring or something that draws attention away from the guys on stage.
Writing for a live band presents its own challenges for everyone, I am sure of it. Going from a solo project in which I allowed myself to experiment to something that can be played live was an adjustment but one that has made Horrenda what it is today.
And it is with that in mind that we should turn to the show itself. The live set tells a story, like a good album should do, that’s the main thing that I aim to ensure we nail every time we play. No song is just added there because it is “cool” or some other reason. No, it’s there in the spot for a reason. The theme of this show’s set reflected the clash of Irish political social identity with a repressive government creeping on the people like the mythical Sluagh.
The Set List:
3. 16 Deadmen
Isolation is a track that evolves every time we play it. The bass track is from my good friend Paul Byrne of Harsh Discipline but I have layer it with many clips and working in the intro from the Neronian Times version of Ríastrad to both create a tone for the set and to lead into Ríastrad.
Ríastrad is the name of the great Irish hero Cú Chulainn’s rage and literally means “rage of kings” in Irish. The song is about the forgotten fighting pagan spirit of the Irish. The mixture of fast guitar picking with melodic breaks allows Nomad’s vocals to hit home.
16 Deadmen is named after the poem by W.B. Yeats and is about the way the 100 years anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising was handled as the country is being sold out and why it disrespects everything these men were executed for. The sample used at the start of the track is a mixture of the 1916 Proclamation and the poem by Yeats. These first two tracks are very Mayhem inspired.
EYE is my love letter to I/Abbath/Immortal. It’s an atmospheric track that plays with a lot of what Abbath does in his material while continuing to talk about the themes of identity and self exploration.
Thermidor is a song about the French revolution and what happens when people have nothing to lose. It opens with a sample from the stellar BBC documentary “Terror Robespierre and the French Revolution”. In college, I always loved this period in history and its lessons are still so very accurate in today’s modern world. This one is a based on a combo of Marduk and Tsjuder in particular the groovy breakdown in the middle of the song.
We closed out the set, with what is becoming my favourite track to play, Sluagh. The Sluagh are the restless dead rejected by both heaven and hell. The song is the longest of the set and is about running through a forest away from the Sluagh who are hunting you. This follows the “movement” format of Tchaikovsky’s work with repeating yet differing motifs and a “strife” movement as the crescendo of the song which is also the metal traditional “black metal” part of the song. I had Ruun by Enslaved on the brain when I wrote this one.
You can hear one of these sets on our bootleg “The Redrum Sessions” for FREE on our bandcamp.
And follow us on Facebook as we continue to work away on live material and towards our first EP.
Thanks again, Joe. I hope you guys enjoyed this one.
Darragh “Outis” O’Connor