Coscradh
Coscradh EP

Coscradh is a black/death metal band from Ireland, fittingly signed to Irish label Invictus Productions.  Ireland has always seemed to be a perpetually overlooked, but feisty, country for metal.  This is strange considering it’s rather unique and concentrated history even in relation to the wealth of cultural legacies throughout Europe.  Ireland, due to it’s end-of-the-known-map geographic location, was naturally isolated and long considered a mysterious destination by ancient traders of mainland Europe.  Known greatly in modern times for it’s blend of native Gaelic language pagan culture and that of the imported Celtic. The Celts were a somewhat loose group of tribes existing in, and dominating central Europe through trade, mostly during the the Iron Age.  As the trading networks expanded the Celtic culture reached to Ireland which, due to it’s isolation, became well woven into their art and language.  To such extent that long after the original Celts eroded away by the ever shifting tides of war and social exchange in Europe, it remained in a uniquely blended, yet concentrated, form in Ireland.   Ireland’s isolation built upon and concentrated these cultural touchstones that is inspiring and as much mysterious.  This is why Coscradh is so interesting.  The e.p. In all aspects is a platform for their country’s harsh Pagan-Celtic history and traditions.

My interest in the band arose because I stumbled on an interview by Metal Ireland.   The interview features a song by song breakdown, explaining the inspiration and subject of each.  Now, I’ve watched several professional and amateur (read: Youtube) documentaries on Ireland’s ancient cultures but they really only hit the headlines.  The inspirations in the interview had me completely fascinated, short as they are.  “Buried” chronicles a shocking community practice that hold the fast the adage “With great power, comes great responsibility”; Kings wielded power and privilege but, at least in old Ireland, their power was not absolute.  During particularly hard times when harvests failed, whether plague, famine, or drought, the king was blamed and paid with their lives for the perceived failure.  The bogs of Ireland preserved the bodies of those disposed, and among them were kings.  That level of accountability between the sovereign and the under-class is rare in monarchical systems.  I encourage listeners to read the interview and lyrics for three other songs of equally engaging subject matter.

The music that supports these vignettes of grim historical practice fluctuate between death scented black metal and black singed death metal.  The four songs actually seems to be sequenced to flow from more black to death metal.All washed  in an earthy, obscured filth.  I imagine one of these local kings emerging after centuries in the bog, shouting and clawing in futile effort to advance from his peat grave.  “Buried” is a craggy, dragging instrumental intro that shifts to an urgent black metal warm up.  “Lynch” continues the black metal dirt smearing.  By “Drowned” the death metal starts to seep up but it’s more or less a split bill.  Beginning as a measured dirge, breaking out as blasting black metal by the two minute mark and ending with a more lively dark ambient passage.  “Coscartac” starts similarly, but stretching the death-doom part out and is black in a first wave sense.

Coscradh refer, in the Metal Ireland interview, to Goat Lord, Hellhammer, and Culte Des Ghoules as hard influences, and these are certainly evident from a once through listen.  The production overall is very natural.  You can hear the rawness of each instrument, and the drums particularly, but it’s not quite as lo-fi as Goat Lord or Hellhammer.  The snare is very dry, open, and without resonance.  It’s a bit distracting in the first few songs but seems to even out in the mix after that.  Not that Coscradh don’t add their own tonal differences, but what remains most interesting is the cultural context they use to platform their band.  The very specific practices that each song is based go a long way toward strengthening the music.  Coscradh succeed in invoking the grim Irish history without dragging folk instruments into the equation, instead putting personal tweaks on old metal of death.  Like constructing a traditional burial mound but choosing a different shape than that of the one further down the bend.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mars Budziszewski
September 21st, 2016

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