Cork's Northside metal boys: From the Mon to Kerrang!

Having released a new extended-player, featured in international rock press and finished their first tour of the UK, Northside post-metal outfit God Alone are ready take on the world in 2020. MIKE McGRATH-BRYAN speaks with vocalist/bassist Cian Mullane and vocalist/guitarist Jake O’Driscoll right as they come off the road.
Cork's Northside metal boys: From the Mon to Kerrang!
Cork band, God Alone.  Pictures: Shane J. Horan Photography

The aul’ heads are noticeably still a bit fuzzy, as the two lads bundle into Malay Kitchen on North Main Street after a day of college: one of them directly off the road on a Sunday, and into an exam at the School of Music on a Monday morning. This kind of wholesale dedication to their craft, from its further study, to the unwavering commitment they’ve made to building their fearsome live reputation, has made Northside youngfellas God Alone into something truly special over the past few years.

Taking inspiration (and a name) from fellow Corkonians Altar of Plagues, the band puts post-metal through the filters of modern patterns of musical influence, as well as the experiences of their formative years in working-class areas of the city, honing their sound over two EPs and a full-length. A hectic gigging itinerary, meanwhile, has seen them criss-cross the island many times over, enroute to taking home the Best Band honours from last year’s Mammothfest weekender in Brighton in the UK. All this before the last member of the band finishes his Leaving Cert, mind you. The band’s self-titled new extended-player is as short and succinct a statement of intent as you’re likely to find from a band with as much to convey, and with so many frames of reference to do so: waves of turbulent black metal and introspective shoegaze are countered by math-rock precision and rhythmic turns that equally recall nimbler recent indie, as well as some of Big Beat’s leaner moments. It shimmers with the confidence that guitarist/vocalist Jake O’Driscoll speaks with, when talking about its release.

“It’s great. It’s better than our other releases, because with the help of Cormac (Daly, Cosmonaut Music promoter/boss), we’ve gone and done it properly. The reaction’s been really good, it’s a bit different than the other things we did, it’s much more ‘dancey’, I suppose, a lot more influences.”

“It’s a bit more accessible… it’s not, really”, deadpans bassist and vocalist Cian Mullane, a lot quieter at the table than O’Driscoll, leaning back in his seat as his counterpart leans in to the mic.

Having been around the pike a few times now with conceptualising and realising music, the aforementioned broadening of their sound was a big driver in the record’s creative process, and given the band’s tender age, between 18 and 20 years old, keeping abreast with their rapid development, as both people and musicians.

Mullane talks about the changes. “I suppose for the first two releases, we were like, ‘let’s just do some post-metal and see what happens’. There was elements of dancey stuff and influences we’d later flesh out, but for this one, now, we’d tend to just get mad into one band or movie, and write a load of stuff, slap it all together, and say, ‘yeah, this is grand’. We got mad into Foals’ first album, and the movie ‘Black Dynamite’, and, like, Basshunter for a while, and we were like, ‘yeah, that’s cool’.”

Cork band, God Alone.
Cork band, God Alone.

Adds O’Driscoll: “This one, now, isn’t as angry, really. It’s more internally-focused, because we’re not angry people, just having a laugh with the lads, like.”

To launch the new record, the band undertook an Irish mini-tour that saw them hit Cork, Dublin, Galway and Belfast in rapid succession, further fine-tuning a gigging itinerary that’s seen them out nearly every weekend for the past few years. O’Driscoll talks about his favourite stop on the band’s debut headlining tour around the country, a hometown gig at Blackpool’s Lido arts centre: “That was brilliant. Easiest load-in ever, I just had to roll out of bed. I live behind the Lido, and it was class. It’s a really cool place, and the Cork Community Art-Link lads are, just, so sound. Belfast one was great, they were all really sound there, and Dublin especially, because every other time it’s been iffy, like just a big metal crowd that wouldn’t be that into us, but there was a big mix at this, because it was a DIY gig at the Hut (punk venue in Phibsborough)”.

The band’s eclectic nature, penchant for hard work, and a live show that’s not so much performed as thrown, has all started to pay dividends for the band further afield. Seizing, perhaps, on the shifting tastes and consumption methods of its traditional key demographic, the band’s post-genre stew was picked up by none other than legendary UK rock magazine Kerrang!, for interviews and a streaming premiere. Once an essential weekly read for younger moshers, the title is back under independent management, and gamely taking on the waters of digital-first content. Re-emphasising support for DIY music, and using its media platforms to boost younger bands, their support for the record has fulfilled an ambition that many Paul Streeters and rural metallers alike long harboured for their teenage bands. Mullane recounts the experience. “We just got an email, saying ‘d’you want to be in Kerrang!?’, and we were like, ‘yeah, that’s hilarious, we’ll do that’. We did an email interview first, then they asked if we wanted to be in the print one. Yer man rang us for a chat about recording and what’s going on. It’s really nice, they didn’t censor us or anything, and we said a load of stupid sh*t in that interview. But yeah, it was really nice.”

Emboldened by international exposure that also included specialist magazines and an appearance on indie music tastemaker Bandcamp Daily, their first UK tour happened last weekend, taking in London, Bristol, and Worthing, a neat little weekender that was the ideal stepping-stone after their previous spot-show successes there. Mullane is visibly still reeling. “That was the best craic of all time. I thought that because we’d never played these cities before, we’re still a small band, that we’d be playing to two people in a small basement and having a laugh. And all the shows were really well-attended, especially the London one, which was unreal. To see people we’d never seen before, deciding to come to see us, was really, really cool.”

Upon being asked how they’re feeling physically and mentally, O’Driscoll wryly remarks: “I’m fine, I’d an exam this morning, it was brilliant.”

It’s not exactly breaking news to report God Alone has received considerable support from members of the city’s metal and wider music scenes, responding equally to their hard work and willingness to co-operate on gigs, etc., as to the cut and thrust of their tunes. In that respect, the band’s goodwill in the city grows with each achievement: they’re one of our own, doing big things in a manner that is distinctly and humbly Corkonian. Their successes are our successes. And that recognition has gone from local gig-goers, via mainstream press, to the city’s community, with the band’s North Monastery alma-mater recently noting their achievements on its social media. Mullane plays it off, and in doing so, nails what’s endeared the band to us.

“It’s fairly cool, I suppose. At the end of the day, I go home and I tell my mam, ‘aw yeah, we’re going touring England there next week’, and she’s like, ‘that’s cool, what d’you want for dinner?’. It’s really nice, people in college being like, ‘you’re on Kerrang!’, and being like ‘haha’. People have been sound to the band from the start. We just said we’d do a bit of screaming, and now that we’re doing bigger shows, people are still really nice to us, letting us stay at their houses in different cities, buying our sh*t and listening to it, etc. It’s really, really sound.”

  • God Alone’s new self-titled EP is available now on godalone.bandcamp.com, and across all streaming services. The band plays Fred Zeppelin’s on December 14, for the Xmas edition of the Paranoid Pit night, joining Cork sludgers Skellig in supporting rarely-seen Irish metallers YURT. Details on the band’s now-annual Christmas Party are to follow, search ‘God Alone’ across social media for more info.

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