Cathal talks with Cork metal promoter Mark Morrisey about all things heavy.
Mark Morrisey is the image of a metalhead: black band shirt, excellent beard, pure Cork accent. He’s got a day job, but by night he’s one of the two men responsible for the current explosion of metal in Cork. Every month, he and his partner-in-crime, Con Doyle, run The Paranoid Pit out of Fred Zeppelins, and the monthly gig has become metal central. October is a time for the weird, the angry, the out-of-your-comfort-zone, and there’s no better place to go than into the Pit.
There has always been a connection between heavy metal and Halloween, and I begin our conversation by asking Mark for his opinion of the horror-metal link. He has thought about this before, and has used it to the Paranoid Pit’s advantage. “When you go back looking at old album covers like Iron Maiden and stuff, you always have that Eddie The Head killer. There’s a huge, huge connection with horror and metal and we actually use it ourselves in posters for the Paranoid gigs. Some of the very first posters were actually old horror posters.”
When the conversation turns to the State Of The Metal Scene, Mark gets a twinkle in his eye. He’s clearly proud of the grassroots metal movement that’s grown in the last couple of years, in no small part due to the efforts of him and Con. When I ask him about band recommendations, it’s as if I’ve asked him to choose his favourite child. “There’s so many good bands in Cork at the moment. I love Coroza, like. We just put out Coroza’s first album on CD… It’s an absolute classic, in my opinion. They’re fantastic live. You have Aponym, another fantastic instrumental band, you have Parthenon, who are a post-metal band, you have God Alone, of course, and everyone knows them at the moment, you have that new band Gaelach, you have…”
Mark stresses the importance of the whole of Cork metal over the chosen few. There’s so much good stuff that he can’t just limit it to two or three best-ofs. After the interview, he sent me on a comprehensive list of all the ones to watch, and metals fans should take note: besides the above there’s Soothsayer, The Magnapinna, The Last Vinci, Everdead Wood, Bailer, Worn Out, Bisect, Zhi Ren, Dirty Casuals, Red Sun Alert, Selkies, Arjunas’ Eve, Zhora. All on Spotify, all the real deal.
He also points me towards a metal zine called Flail Ov Venom. It’s a unique piece of metal memorabilia, an underground magazine that simultaneously harkens back to the DIY scene culture of yesteryear (mixtape-trading advertisements) while showing its modern roots with references to Bandcamp and a global purview. If you’ve got a few euro to spend, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. It speaks to the strength of the community here.
The venue’s big Halloween event is the Ritual Of The Evil Eye, a mammoth 9-band gig bringing bands from all over Ireland to Cork to blow the roof off. The event stretches from 3pm in the afternoon to past midnight and the bands speak for themselves. “Ten-Ton Slug are the biggest metal band in Ireland at the moment… they’d be playing festivals all over Europe every summer now at this stage, where they’d have become regulars. They started out playing the smaller stages and now they’re progressing into the main stages, so you’ll have 40,000 people watching these guys and they just blow ‘em away.”
The lineup is a rogue’s gallery of talent. Almost every band has a reputation for smashing it, for going nuts on stage, for being legends. Experimental industrial/ambient Cursed Monk Records are setting the mood for a true black magic ritual: “He’s doing a kind of opening piece for us called The Invocation of Balor… He wears a big hood and he looks like a monk, basically.”
There’s no better thrill than throwing yourself into a good metal gig and you don’t get much better than the ones here in Cork. Head to the Paranoid Pit; you won’t regret falling in.
The Ritual Of The Evil Eye is on November 2nd from 3pm onwards in An Spailpín Fánach. Thanks to Mark for the interview.