Pauper of Souls

I don't think many saw this Irish 5-piece coming. Their start was the most impressive at Bloodstock, especially at a festival with more intro tapes than a WE night of wrestling. The heavy music bellowed through the walls into the corridors before being accompanied by a trumpet blast. It felt like a call to arms, a battle cry that saw the crowds pile into the Darwin suite. Before too long the hall was full and Mael Mordha launched into their main set of Gaelic folk metal.

In the age of Turisis, Ensiferum and Korplikkani and the rest of the battle metal contingent, Mael Mordha was what the crowd were waiting for. All members were wearing war paint and looked like they'd just come back from a Nordic battle victorious and ready to rock. After the lame efforts of battle metal from Spellblast on the main stage, it was good to see Mael Mordha do it properly, especially the tunic wearing singer Rob. His 'foot on the monitor antics' had me worried for the front three rows and I hoped Rob was sporting a pair of boxer shorts under his attire.

The crowd reaction was excellent with the audience immediately connecting with the Irish band. Rob spellbound the audience with his piccolo flute playing over a barrage of thrashing guitars, and his banter with the crowd was blasť but incredibly witty and amusing at the same time. His vocals lines could have benefited with a touch more dynamics as could the music as a whole. There was little that stood out and the band had a tendency to thrash it out a little too much. Having said that, there was some great guitar work from Anto and Gerry as they chocked their way through songs such as 'Winds of one thousand winters' and 'Realms of Insanity'.

Perhaps not the best band in the Darwin suite over the weekend, but they were the most entertaining. Visually speaking the band looked the real deal, their presentation and image were on the money, only their constant thrashing let the side down. I do think a few spins of one of their CDs prior to their show would have been helpful to know what where they're coming from musically speaking. But at least on this performance there were many in the audience ready to queue up to sample the delights of a Mael Mordha recording. With Mael Mordha I think Ireland have their battle metal champions who seem to be ready to challenge the Scandinavian dominated genre.