Kerbdog ‘Congregation’ album – Review


Kerbdog are back with ‘Congregation’. This live album is the band’s first release in 17 years and includes one brand new track, with a full album of new material expected next year following the return of guitarist Billy Dalton. 


Frontman Cormac Battle has previously said that he felt Kerbdog were the ‘right band at the wrong time’. In their short career the band released two studio albums, including the seminal ‘On The Turn’. That album cost Mercury Records over a million dollars to make and was produced by renowned producer Gggarth Richardson and would surely have been a great success had it come out five years before it’s 1997 release. Unfortunately for Kerbdog, ‘On The Turn’ was released bang, smack in the middle of the Britpop years and their heavier sound just didn’t fit in with what was in vogue at the time.

It wasn’t long after the release of ‘On The Turn’ that guitarist Billy Dalton left the group and the other members wound up calling time on proceedings not long after that. It was a sad ending for an Irish band that had so much potential but such is the quality of the band’s back catalogue that the passing years saw them gain new fans, influencing the likes of Frank Turner and Biffy Clyro. Their reunion in 2005 was warmly received and the band have toured sporadically ever since. But now things have been ramped up a notch with the return of Dalton, talk of recording new material and the release of ‘Congregation’, a live album that is their first release in 17 years.

This is an album that will appeal to old and new fans of the band. With every track from ‘On The Turn’ included and a few tracks from their debut album also thrown in, ‘Congregation’ makes a great gateway into the world of Kerbdog for the uninitiated and also works as a reminder to long time fans of just how good they were.

Recorded in Dublin, Bristol and London in 2012, ‘Congregation’ presents a band at their blisteringly live best. From the opening chants of ‘Kerbdog, Kerbdog’ from the crowd, the pace is breakneck; chunky riffs reminding the listener of the band’s metal influences that mingle so well with the more grungy fare on offer.

All of the Kerbdog favourites are here – the deep brooding bass of ‘Mexican Wave’, the off kilter chords of ‘Lesser Self’ and the infectious, repetitive riff of ‘Scram’. The crowd seem to be lapping it all up and they play their part too, notably singing every word of ‘Sally’ back at the band. The band seem to be enjoying themselves too, engaging in a bit of craic with the security men before ‘Sorry For The Record’ and inviting the crowd to have a dance before launching into the very moshable ‘Didn’t Even Try’.

Once the raucous proceedings are brought to a close with ‘JJ’s Song’ played with joyous abandon, we’re treated to Kerbdog’s first new studio recording since ‘On The Turn’. ‘Electricity’ is a polished tune featuring some excellent twin guitar licks and nice vocal harmonies that trundle into a massive chorus. It’s a strong tune and will hopefully be the first of many new songs the band unleash upon us in the near future. It would be almost criminal if they didn’t release more new material after whetting the appetite by reminding us all how good they are with this live offering.


Mark O'Brien

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