The Irish metal scene harbours an abundance of talented bands, with many imposing their authority through a brutal and often sludgy style of metal that rises from our turf-sodden earth and swallows you whole, from the ground, upwards. It’s slow and it’s barely noticeable at times, but it does get to a point where you find yourself struggling to breathe, as those slow, all-consuming riffs, those pummelling bass lines and the malignant percussive force engulf every fibre of your being. This style of music is here to stifle and engulf the listener. It’s bleak and it’s harsh, but that’s the blackened beauty of it all. Bands like Raum Kingdom, Partholon, Slung From A Tree, and Grey Stag all offer up these sludgy and muddy passages in their sound, and now you can add Third Island to that list.
The Limerick trio of John Quill, Seamus Quaid & Scott Kemp are no strangers to the Irish metal scene, and have already released music under Third Island, and other projects besides. But what sets this new EP, Burning apart from earlier releases is the bleak atmosphere that seems to smother you right from the off. That stark, stoney guitar tone instantly grabs you by the throat on the opening track, Burning. Dampened vocals clash and contrast against harsh, guttural growls as the track plods its weary way through unfathomed chasms that echo dark, brooding riffs and thunderous drums. Its gloomy ether is both hypnotic and addictive and is a fantastic track to open proceedings.
More psychedelia and sullen, stoner vibes reverb off the following track, Like Gold, where that lead guitar hook charms and weaves its way through more of those hefty rhythm sections. The bass guitar stands front and centre throughout, with a middle eastern groove that courses through your veins and rumbles through your chest. Low Light on the other hand is more simplified in structure but still breeds terror and disquiet. Those chanting vocals that were evident on the earlier tracks really come to the fore, amidst a breakdown that has your head swaying from side to side as each snare and cymbal gets punished.
Bury The Sun closes the EP with its slow-paced grind and its narcotic tendencies, that lean heavy on those old Sabbath styled grooves. Vocals fill the visceral air with fear and trepidation as the track rumbles forward, before finally exploding into a cacophony of euphoric strobes and delirius psychedelia. Unexpected, but equally welcomed.
Burning has really shown how diverse and interesting sludge and doom metal can be. Get the basics right, play them well, then add your own personality to the mix, and you have music that warms the soul, no matter how black or bleak it may be. Third Island have it in spades.