Copenhell 2015

author PP date 24/06/15

Ah, the ultimate weekend in every Danish metal connoisseur’s calendar; a consolidation of all the aspects that make the genre so dear to so many. Copenhell offers us a breathing room in which to express and unfold one’s self, tongue firmly in cheek, far from the trifles of everyday toil, where all that matters is the music, the community, and the atmosphere of euphoria for which the festival has grown renowned since its inception five years ago, in 2010. With so much testosterone concentrated into a relatively small area, and so many alcoholic beverages drunk, one might expect all hell to break loose, yet you will find no violence or acrimony here - just the warm and fuzzy feeling that we’re all in it together, and it’s all rather silly in a wonderfully self-ironic way. It may not look that way to the outside observer staring in horror at corpse painted warriors slamming into each other in the pit, but truly, Copenhell is one of the friendliest, readily embracing festivals we at Rockfreaks.net have had the pleasure to attend.

It is thus becoming a tradition that virtually all of our Denmark-based staff converges on the former B&W shipyard at Refshaleøen in mid-June like some macabre family excursion. In fact, perhaps that is the most telling metaphor, to call Copenhell a family gathering. Men, women and children of all ages, opinions and tastes coming together in celebration of timeless heavy music. This article invites you, the reader, into the world of Copenhell anno 2015 from atmosphere to artists, proposing even to know about food in our all-new gastro review section. So please, take your time. Reminisce about three days in hell, and ingest a veritable deluge of reasons to be there next year, in 2016. AP & PP.

Lineup

For their biggest line-up yet, Copenhell’s booking team had assembled a broad and varied bill of no less than 45 bands both domestic and international scattered across 3 days, taking further steps toward transforming a metal purist’s mecca into one that embraces the less extreme aspects of heavy music as well. Whether or not this is the way to go remains a divisive subject among the festival’s most faithful fans, but it is our strong belief that this is the right direction; to involve the old and the young, the classic and the modern.

Arguably, the 2015 line-up was one of the weakest in Copenhell’s brief history - at least when looking at the large print. But rather than play it safe with rock and metal’s biggest names, the aging veterans, the festival’s chief booker Jeppe Nissen acknowledges the need for a change of guard. Perhaps it’s time for the contemporary heavyweights to start pulling headlining weight? Slipknot as the consummate headliner, Primus and Ghost closing the main stage on the remaining two days was a risk to be sure, but in our humble opinion a necessary risk. In that sense, Copenhell is bearing the torch.

Wrestling @ Biergarten

Another thing Copenhell prides itself on, is the increasing diversity on display. From the blasphemic extremity of Bloodbath and Marduk, to the pop-punk/metalcore fusionism of A Day to Remember and the political punk of Rise Against, no one can argue the poster didn’t cater to most any fan of rock and metal. But it shouldn’t stop there; the balance is still skewed in favour of traditional metal, meaning crowd sizes for the latter two’s kind never matched the audiences facing the likes of Kreator or Gojira, both of whom sucked in the energy and enthusiasm of their spectators to stage magnificent shows, as we shall see further down this article. There is a logical explanation for this dichotomy: even sworn fans of Rise Against will not purchase a ticket worth 1110 DKK or even 666 DKK (the price of a one-day ticket this year) to watch their heroes if nothing else appeals to them. As such, we are strong advocates of further variety in the years to come even if it means shedding the most puritanical and traditionalist connoisseurs of metal. Bigger crowds mean better shows, and a higher budget the following year.

Circle pit action

This year’s clash with both Hellfest and Graspop Metal Meeting understandably produced severe limitations for line-up construction given the financial muscle of those events. And the sad effect of those festivals booking the cream of more or less every rock and metal sub-genre to play in France and Belgium respectively on the same weekend meant that Copenhell was unable to muster a serious headlining bill. Mind you, Mr. Nissen did his utmost with what was available, managing even to slap a rather exclusive appearance from the elusive Primus on there, much to our satisfaction. Here’s hoping for an improved scenario next year! AP & PP

The 2015 lineup in its full glory

Festival Area

What sets Copenhell apart from other festivals is the attention to detail; the wholesome embrace of all aspects of metal culture - not just booking an impressive slab of coveted artists. The festival is entered via the ‘Highway to Hell’: guests pass beneath a giant ‘COPENHELL’ logo sprayed onto a gate constructed from shipping containers - a clever tribute to the site’s former function as a large shipyard. The ‘highway’ itself is plastered with photos and posters from the previous years all designed to infect the revered atmosphere of the festival onto the guest before he or she enters the area proper. One of the first things you’d see is Asgaard, a Viking-themed area embellished with Finnish baths, a Sauna, tents selling Viking crafts, mead and food, and where, against 25 DKK, you were able to wield an assortment of Viking weaponry to decimate cabbages.

Nearby is a burned down church with a stone graveyard and dead trees from an actual Danish graveyard, which actually doubles as a juice bar out of all things. Then you have the ‘Smadreland’ area hosting a Danish Championship in destruction: 15 minutes per team to annihilate a vehicle into bits and pieces with sledgehammers and metal rods. Next to this, you’ll find a small but cozy bar tent Tutten themed in proper German biergarten style. It’s big brother, Biergarten is an enormous tent filled with long tables and serving as the site show location. Wrestling, headbanging competitions, Mandowar performance (metal classics interpreted with a mandolin), metal karaoke with an actual band, DJ sets by the best metal DJs in the country, and much more. All food stalls are of course named after hell/blood/etc; two enormous pyro effect blasters shoot explosions of fire into the air - the heat could be felt 50 meters away - before every concert. And to top it all: the ‘Fenriz’ wolf - this years mascot - which was found painted both as an imposing artwork on the old B&W industrial hall wall as well as a gigantic wooden structure, which tradition be true was burned down Saturday night after Ghost closed down the festival.

The three scenes at the festival, Helviti, Hades, and Pandæmonium were joined by a fourth stage called Copenhate that would open at 10pm every night to showcase underground black metal bands playing next to a bar shaped like a giant skull glowing in the dark.

The best part of it all? It’s not serious at all. Everything is themed in tongue-in-cheek fashion, which helps avoid the serious fucking business tag and lightens up the mood for a beer-fueled party for everyone and not just the puritanical metal fans out there. AP & PP

Food Reviews: because we can

We figured it’s about time we expand into foodie territory in our articles, so PP decreed all writers and photographers should try at least one stall at the festival and give their opinions on a simple great / average / trash rating scale. If you were wondering what something tasted like, here’s our opinion. Keep it handy for next year.

Sort Kro

Luxurious three course dinner in cozy surroundings for just 200 DKK. Starters ranged from shrimp cocktail to marinated salmon and goulash soup, whereas the main course consisted of options like beef in pepper sauce with potatoes and a salad, a wienerschnitzel with the goods, and much more. Topped of course with a delicious cheese/chocolate cake dessert.

Rating: Great (PP)

Tacos Chilangos

Being vegetarian, I resolved to checking out the three places that were advertised to have meat-free options, starting with Tacos Chilangos. Oddly, for a place that serves burritos as well as nachos with salsa and guacamole, the veggie burrito somehow did not include any of the two typical mexican sauces. Instead it had your standard white durum dressing. Equally mysterious was the choice to eschew common mexi-food options like beans, corn or rice, and instead go for mozzarella as a meat replacement. Isn’t that Italian? The result was that the veggie "burrito" tasted like nothing with a dash of onions, and was completely depressing to chew through. The nachos were nachos, which is okay, but honestly if you expect points for not fucking up nachos, you probably shouldn’t expect people to pay you for your cooking.

Rating: Trash (TL) / Trash (PP)

The Devil’s Thai Food

My second attempt to get a half-decent vegetarian meal was to try the noodles with veggies from The Devil’s Thai Food. They should probably have called it noodles with soy though, because there was A LOT of soy sauce. Conversely you had to dig deep to even find something reminiscent of a stick of broccoli or the likes. Which makes no sense, because as we all know, vegetables are not expensive, so why be so stingy with them? Maybe it was a matter of not wanting to spoil the vegetarians compared to the meat lovers, as LF tried the chicken version and was equally disappointed. Barely worth eating and certainly not worth the money, even considering the inflated price from being sold at a festival.

Rating: Trash (TL)

Folkekøkkenet

Last year the Danes voted for the Danish national dish, and of course Stegt flæsk med persillesovs (Fried pork belly with parsley sauce) won. This dish has been available every year. 69 DKK would get you a plate with enough fried pork and parsley sauce to fill the greatest belly (har har…), and while it did not defy any taste expectations, who doesn’t like them some super bacon? If the pork was not crispy enough, it would be replaced at no extra charge, while the dosing of gourmet salt was left up to the customer. Towards the end of Saturday, potatoes were running out. The solution? More super bacon! No complaints here - you got what you paid for, and hunger wasn’t an issue after.

Rating: Great (AP & LN)

Butcher Boy

Often, when buying hot dogs or sausages at festivals, the dish served is a nondescript and small. Not so with ButcherBoy: here one could pick between several hot dog options ranging from plain to Cajun-spiced, all home made from quality meat, and served in generous portions. All had outstanding flavour, as did the accompanying sauces. The hot mustard served with a Cajun sausage and whole-grain bread, in particular, was a winner, and with a price of just 30 DKK, great value for money. Our photographer Lykke sampled the constructed hot dog option (sausage-in-bread, that is), which was heaped with coleslaw and crushed tortilla chips and produced an inevitable mess when consumed, as it should. Both myself and Lykke found ourselves satisfied for most of the day with just one of these babies, so ButcherBoy distinguished themselves as one of the premium options at this year’s Copenhell. We hope to see them again next year!

Rating: Great (AP & LN)

Bloody Sweet Churros

Bloody Sweet Churros sells churros (duh) and waffles and the narrative of my visit goes like this: Semi-drunk, tired reviewer sees opportunity to buy waffles with both softice and chocolate sauce. He does just that, gets it all over his face and hands while omnomnoming, and proceeds to feel like a fat, very full bastard afterwards. It’s not high class and it’s not healthy, but it’s exactly what you’d expect from a stand like this.

Rating: Average (TL)

Copenhell Kaffe

Copenhell’s coffee stand initially figured like a fixpoint for someone who often gets tired and cold late at festivals, hence needing a serving of whiskey and caffeine to remedy the situation. Unfortunately the first attempt to get an Irish Coffee was met with a "Sorry, we’re out of one ingredient or the other" to which the only suitable reply is of course. "Look, do you have coffee and whiskey? Great, serve me that.". Considering the simplicity of these instructions, one wonders how it’s possible ending up with something that tasted more like warm water and whiskey with a dash of whipped cream. I went with vodka/redbull for the rest of my caffeine needing moments.

Rating: Trash (TL)

Flying pancakes from hell

Pancakes with meat and sweets. Of course yours truly bought one with nutella and banana. The pancakes are quite big and make for a good meal, which means you won’t have to go and buy anything else for at least a couple of hours. The prices are fair, the one I got was 40 DKK. This can be recommended! (Seconded by TL - The banana/nutella combo was as tasty as it sounds, and even the vegetarian meal version was pretty decent.)

Rating: Great (LN & TL)

Infernal Ice

Fresh fruit and peas, ice cream and milkshakes, this all sounds amazing. While fruit is priced well at 5 DKK and peas at 10 DKK per bag, the milkshake is a bit expensive as you don't get that much for the 40 DKK price. It is tasty but not something you would buy more than once. I did not taste the ice cream but from what people said, it tasted really good, just expensive. But thumbs up for giving this alternative!

Rating: Average (LN)

REVIEWS: DAY 1

Konkhra @ 16:15 on Pandæmonium

One of Scandinavia’s absolute oldest death metal outfits, Konkhra have been assigned the opening slot at this years Copenhell. Playing the Pandæmonium stage to a sizeable crowd, the band enter to the sounds of "Warzone", a track from their 2005 record "Live Eraser". First impressions are somewhat dampened by the murky sound mix that presents Konkhra’s sound as muddy and unsharp. Following, during "The Reckoning" things seem to tighten a bit up.

Konkhra

At first it is tough to distinguish which genre Konkhra is as elements of death-n-roll, groove metal and sludge metal make its way into the mix. Personally, I feel that the setlist is horribly inconsistent in quality as very few tracks truly capture the attention of the audience. Props to the drummer for providing the best performance of the quartet. It is a tough slot to perform as the opening to everyone’s ultra high expectations, luckily for Konkhra, they have solid bashers "Facelift" and "Spit Or Swallow" to seal the setlist and leave the crowd with a satisfactory appetizer to Copenhell 2015. The 45 minute set was catered to the die hard death metal fan, where vocalist Anders Lundemark growled to the depth of his foundation in a traditionalist "old school" fashion. Nothing truly new or spectacular. [5½] MN

Life Of Agony @ 16:30 on Hades

Despite her transformation from man to woman, Mina Caputo (formerly Keith Caputo, of course) remains a formidable front figure for one of alternative metal’s most celebrated acts. This is the not-unexpected epiphany manifest in Life of Agony’s afternoon performance which, by virtue both of the band’s legend and the quality of their performance today, deserved a later, longer slot. One needs not even be familiar with the quartet’s repertoire in order to find instantly grabbing impressions in the music, nor to be spellbound at once by the jovial expressions and burning passion of guitarist Joey Z. and bassist Alan Robert as they churn out the initial segment from "Plexiglass Gate" as a backdrop to Caputo’s swaggery arrival on stage. Quite appropriately, the two then segue into the title track to the band’s 1993 debut album "River Runs Red", which plays like an all-aboard call to a nostalgic journey into the heart of said record. Indeed, out of the 12 tracks aired this afternoon, 8 have been selected from "River Runs Red", driving the faithful gathering of old-school ‘Agony fans upfront into ecstasy.

Life Of Agony

Whilst Robert and Joey Z. are busy rocking their instruments like musicians playing their very first show, Caputo is throwing sensual dance moves in stark contrast with the same powerful, manly roar she possessed before her sex change operation. She is a fierce and present vocalist, never missing an opportunity to interact and sing in unison with the group’s fans pressing against the security barrier, and for this she and her trio of compatriots (completed by drummer Sal Abruscato) are rewarded with a warm and exuberant reaction from virtually all of the people gathered before the stage. Couple her authoritative, and strangely intoxicating manner with a crisp mix, generous volume and a well-built setlist full of vintage ‘Agony picks like "Method of Groove" and "Underground", and you’ve got yourself a blast of an opening of the proceedings at Copenhell ‘15 - if you didn’t catch Konkhra starting 15 minutes earlier, that is. [8] AP

A Day To Remember @ 17:30 on Helviti

ADTR is a band that I have waited many years to see and they’re definitely in my top five of bands that I've been looking the most forward to this year on Copenhell despite the fact that I have only heard unflattering rumors about their abilities to perform their music live. A girl can always hope. As they take the Helviti stage today with their incredibly corporate and very American show, it's obvious that they're going to have a bit of a hard time with their easycore at a festival that doesn't feature many –core artists in general. The audience that has gathered in the pit is not huge but at least the ones that are there have an active show, engaging both in circle pits and a tiny wall of death on vocalist Jeremy McKinnon's request. ADTR make a summery show with different college gimmicks like throwing out beach balls and rolls of toilet paper for the audience to play with, as well as featuring a man dressed in a ridiculous Spiderman outfit shooting band t-shirts out of a cannon.

A Day To Remember

Now, concerning the band's actual ability to play their material, I start out relatively relieved that everything sounds okay although that quickly goes south. The musicians play just fine even though their melodic backtrack is not always present enough in the mix for the more poppy parts of their music to really shine but McKinnon only makes it three songs in before it starts being slightly embarrassing to still sing along and cheer the band on. Now, his growls are fine but he struggles with pretty much all the impactful melodies in the clean choruses, beginning to really be heard as they play "I'm Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?" halfway into the set. He's obviously aware of this, sparing air when he can and opting for singing several lines lower or changing their melodies altogether but this messes entirely with the energy flow in their songs. This is most disappointing in their ballad "Have Faith In Me" and in their chosen set ender, "The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle", which is one of my very favorite songs of theirs and would have been a banger to go out on if the chorus had been anywhere near on point. McKinnon doesn’t seem especially excited to be here either but admittedly they’re also playing a tough crowd. Despite these less than optimal circumstances, I end up enjoying myself for most of the set, simply in joy of hearing these old favorites of mine live for the first time, but it’s definitely not the impressive show of energy or skill that I could have wished for. [5] LF

Butcher Babies

Butcher Babies @ 18:00 on Pandæmonium

Based on our metal aficionado EW’s rants about Butcher Babies’ musical talents and their outrageous topless outfits during past performances, one was never to expect anything of particular high quality in terms of songwriting talent from these babes. Alas, it is no surprise to find them enter stage to the tune of a Lil’ Bow Wow track wearing absolutely raucous outfits that don’t leave much to imagination. Sure, their silicone-infused cleaves are meant to pay tribute to Wendy O Williams of The Plasmatics, but let’s not kid ourselves: the sheer amount of desperate male metalheads in the audience has even tonight’s host shouting out "Shut up how many guys are out there right now!" when introducing the band to the crowd. Musically, the music is pretty much thrash, generic metal that’s difficult to pigeonhole into any particular genre outside its metalcore / thrash riffs, deathcore style growls and all the rage that unfortunately doesn’t translate into anything particularly interesting. But if there’s one thing you have to give to the girls, it’s that they play with awesome energy throughout their set. When they’re not engaged in massive circular headbanging that has their long hairdos flying everywhere, they are hopping down to the barrier to stand and scream into the faces of hopeful metal fans below, sending high fives down towards crowd surfers, and just bouncing everywhere in the crowd. These girls are showgirls at heart, so in-between banter is primarily geared towards inciting the crowd into a frenzy through standard chant sequences like "DO WE HAVE ANY BEER DRINKERS IN THE CROWD?!". The audience is packed, the pit gets going, and the band’s energy on stage is relentless. Not sure exactly why the girls trade shifts in disappearing to the side of the stage when they’re not singing and screaming, but that’s a minor detail in what is infectious energy throughout their show. Too bad that after just 20 minutes, the set feels long because musically, they have very little to offer. At least they’re entertaining, which wins them a couple of extra grades in my book. [7] PP

Cannibal Corpse

Cannibal Corpse @ 19:00 on Hades

Highly anticipated as the premier death metal experience at Copenhell, Cannibal Corpse enter the stage with their heads held high and lead by George "CorpseGrinder" Fisher whose immense presence and astoundingly beefy neck has his menacing gaze inflicts a certain adrenaline in the eager crowd. Opening with "Scourge Of Iron", Cannibal Corpse are off to a galloping start as the double pedals blast the front crowd into a furious moshpit. Things don’t seem to be slowing down under "Demented Agression", a song so viciously old school it leads to potential cramps in the neck region. The pace slows down to a slow- thunderous chug in "Evisceration Plague" which allows for Fisher to pronounce his otherwise undecipherable lyrics to the crowd. The "Gallery Of Suicide" era couplet "Disporal Of The Body" and "Sentenced To Burn" presents the most typical of Cannibal Corpse’s productions and at this point the charm of CC starts to wear off as they are clearly pulling another business venture at Copenhell. Very little crowd interaction and largely static members makes for a somewhat dull experience, especially considering the reputation that Cannibal Corpse have as a live band. Still, there is something truly enthralling listen to songs like "I Cum Blood" which is so ferocious that it borders on grindcore, but with much more awesome guitar work. The evenings highlight comes in form of the classic "Hammer Smashed Face" that leaves you nodding along in recognition. The sound calibration at times is quite sharp, but a bit more attention to George Fisher’s vocals would perhaps give him some more potency on stage. All in all, Cannibal Corpse leave me with a bitter-sweet feeling that it was awesome finally seeing them lash out their classic death metal riffs, but with a tinge of disappointment asking "Is that the best you can do?" [6½] MN

Iron Reagan @ 20:00 on Pandæmonium

At this point the entire population of Refshaleøen have decided to watch Body Count at Helviti. Ice-T seems to be stiff competition, even at this festival it is probably one of the only reasons that one of my favourite thrashy, crossover punk bands have absolutely no crowd of the size they deserve here at Pandæmonium. The band is well aware of this fact, but instead of letting it affect the show negatively, it seems to bring down the distance between audience and performers.

Iron Reagan

Being quite a young band, only formed in 2012 by members of Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour, the members seem very in sync, which is quite important for the hectic shifts in tempo the band applies to the already fast-paced yelling-driven songs. And even if the sound falters a bit and Tony Foresta’s mic is not always completely on, it’s not hard to find yourself enjoying the sheer force of energy Iron Reagan is on stage, long curly hair flaring in all directions in the Copenhagen "summer" wind.

Towards the end the band jokes that they only have 5 songs left "so give us … 5 minutes". The set ends in sing-a-long to one of the band’s best songs "In Greed We Trust" with a strangely addictive off-key refrain and "4 More Years". Overall Iron Reagan puts on a pretty convincing show, even though they’re challenged by low attendance and end up coming off way more sympathetic than bands in this genre traditionally do. [7] HES

Body Count

Body Count @ 20:00 on Helviti

Tonight’s theme seems to be bands that don’t take themselves very seriously or have some kind of a gimmick associated with them. For Body Count, it is the unadulterated, over-the-top version of the rap metal genre that first took off in early 90s and culminated in the spectacular implosion of the nu-metal scene in early 2000s. With gangsta rapper Ice-T fronting the band, we’re in for a humorous set of hilarious anecdotes from the hip hop scene embedded within metal songs. Body Count chants and shouts are scattered everywhere mid-song and in-between songs alike, whilst the band members jump and swirl across the stage during the entire set. "Now Copenhagen, I’m not gonna lie, that mosh pit looks like a bunch of little girls", Ice T spews out on multiple occasions, whilst their bassist is laying down a cool display of shredding on his knees on the stage. "Cop killer, fuck the police, I’m gonna have an orgasm!", he shouts towards the end of "Cop Killer", highlight just what kind of ridiculous idiocy we’re dealing with on stage. But the band play it with attitude and conviction that defies their gimmicky status and quickly everyone at Copenhell is morphing into a party mode. This despite the band focusing mostly on old material and teasing us with things like "There’s a bitch in the pit!" without actually playing the song. Only "Manslaughter" and "Talk Shit, Get Shot" are aired from the new record with majority of tracks focusing on older crossover style songs that recall Suicidal Tendencies in multiple places. It’s definitely totally retarded (thank the lyrics and Ice T’s rapper-like stature on stage), but the band’s facial expressions tell a different story: they’re loving it, and so is the audience. [8] PP

Suicidal Tendencies

Suicidal Tendencies @ 21:15 on Hades

If Body Count offered an energetic performance just before, then Suicidal Tendencies certainly one up their game with their vocalist running around the stage shaking his hands up and down in an insane fashion. The rest of the band are equally convincing: whether it’s constant jumping, scissor kicks, rapid headbanging or exchanging positions across the stage, they do it with crazy speed and enthusiasm, completely defying their old school status as a band. If anything, this set is perfect for headbanging, as it is sociopolitically relevant. ST have done their homework about the Danish elections, where Mike Murr introduces "Freedumb" with a lengthy rant about how we should cast our votes in a general election: with our hearts, our minds, and our souls as the only things we should vote with. "We’re all Danish", he shouts, before inviting everyone in the crowd to join on stage with "Possessed To Skate" seeing just about a hundred people dancing on stage from the crowd. Must’ve been a security nightmare, which repeats itself for set closer "Pledge Your Allegiance". But for all the headbanging mania, crowd getting up on the scene, and the band pacing the stage in nonstop movement, the set starts to repeat itself after a little while. This is crossover hardcore after all, so variety is lacking whereas speed is not. Circle pit madness is happening up front, sure, but overall the show lacked the fun-factor of Body Count just before. [7½] PP

Slipknot @ 22:30 on Helviti

There is no doubt that the mighty Iowa-based metal monster deserved the spot as one of the headliners of this year’s festival. Despite having only released five albums in their career, the band’s history contains more insane moments than many artists with careers twice as long have ever experienced. The untimely death of bassist Paul Gray and the exit of drummer Joey Jordison fortunately did not mean the end of the band, and tonight The Nine showed that they are still a cohesive unit and exactly why they are to be considered one of the best live bands in the world. Fans will always debate which of Slipknot’s albums is the best, a debate that ultimately comes down to taste preference considering the high level of musical quality of all five albums. Luckily, we got to experience an hour and a half worth of material that was somewhat formulaic, but still took all five albums into consideration with highlights including "The Devil In I", "The Heretic Anthem", "Vermillion", "Eyeless" and "People=Shit".

Slipknot

Copenhell managed to present the band’s crazy live show in an absolutely successful fashion with a great balance between the wild visuals and the band’s massive wall of sound that never became a nuisance to listen to, which has sometimes been the case when the band has played other Danish venues in the past. This must be no easy feat to pull off considering the sheer magnitude of everything Slipknot does. Besides the nine musicians on stage the show featured a gigantic demon’s head in the back of stage, pyrotechnics and other fun stuff that made this experience much more than the average metal show. However, all this would mean nothing if the band did not have the musical skills and ability to perform properly. Luckily Slipknot walked the walk with an incredible performance that should convince all in attendance of the band’s qualities as musicians, songwriters and showmen. Corey Taylor is one of the best front men in the world and commands the crowd with ruthless authority, which he showed tonight by administering the now legendary "jump the fuck up!" moment from "Spit It Out". Most importantly he screamed and sang really well all throughout the show. With DJ Sid Wilson running around the stage like a maniac and percussionists Shawn Crahan and Chris Fehn’s huge drum set-ups being raised several metres into the air, this was a truly entertaining show with great sound and one of the clear highlights of Copenhell 2015. [9] MBC

Saint Vitus @ 23:00 on Pandæmonium

Rockfreaks.net has pretty much every metal- or semi-metal interested writer gathered at Copenhell this year, intending to cover all the bands. But all of them are watching Slipknot, so somehow, an out-of-place, ball-cap wearing, soft-rock listening hipster is sent to report on the performance of doom metal veterans Saint Vitus. Arriving at Pandæmonium, the words "Can we get some light up here on the stage? We’re old and we can’t see a thing!" are heard ringing humorously from the speakers, before the lights go on and the distinguished quartet strides on stage. Apart from looking a bit stiff in their headbanging efforts however, the group seems lively and in good spirits, at first banging out slow-moving but potent riffs in repetitive fashion. After a few songs however, they switch gears and display their versatility, moving the middle of the set ahead at much faster, almost Motörhead-like speeds, before settling back down into the slow grind for the ending of the show.

Saint Vitus

Their first vocalist Scott Reager is with them today, replacing their usual frontman Scott Weinrich, who is reportedly banned from entering EU for the time being, over some drug-related matter. Whether this is a downgrade or not is obviously a trifle though, as Reager proves himself to be in good form, dishing out intentionally wavering heavy metal singing that gets around his registry, while also throwing some nice, thick growls in there that sound like something the band’s younger peers could definitely learn something from. And so the set moves along enjoyably, although the band clearly presumes familiarity from the audience, introducing songs merely with "this next one is the good one", probably going with the fair assumption that any casuals (bare the mentioned out of place soft-rock fan) are rather off seeing the ‘Knot. The only debatable quality in their set is in guitarist Dave Chandler’s solos, as the iconic looking gray tangle of curls and beard produces some rather squealing and dissonantly thrashy noises from his flying V, that hardly feel like they have anything to do with the rest of the music of the songs they are placed in. That being said, the overall set had a confident and forthcoming attitude and sounded good, even to newcomers, so it’s safe to assume that fans of the band also felt relatively satisfied. [7] TL

Genfærd

Genfærd @ 00:00 on Copenhate

The Copenhate stage looks more like something from a DIY show at some shipyard with all the metal container surroundings and a barely-standing shed covering the band from any bad weather. The sound is only coming from the monitors, so that’s a challenge, but for local black metallers Genfærd it is never a problem because they specialize in the sort of shoegaze blackmetal anyway where such concerns are mowed aside in favour of a looking as black metal as possible. Indeed, from the white corpse paint through the KISS-inspired long tongue of their front man to their sound of utter darkness, they are black metal to the letter. It sounds amateurish compared to the big names in the genre, yet the band look reasonably good for a new act and have drawn quite a few curious onlookers towards the stage right now. No small feat considering they are competing for time against Night Fever and Exodus at the same time. A few melodic tremolo riffs are the highlight of the evening, but otherwise the band need to focus on songwriting at this point. [6] PP

Night Fever

Night Fever @ 00:15 on Pandæmonium

Local hardcore punk-rockers Night Fever are a bit of a cult name in the alternative underground of Copenhagen, and as they come on right after midnight, you soon understand why that is. Decked out in denim vests, the band is fronted by Salomon Segers, who appears as the archetypical frontman for this kind of music, pacing the width of the stage aggressively while spitting, barking and yelping lyrics out on top of the full speed drums and guitars. The band’s music seems grown on a steady diet of Misfits and Black Flag, eschewing ideas of melodic singing in favour of attitude and whiplash energy. They race through frantic chord-progressions and rapid-fire snare drum punishment, and while the guitars have just enough melody to give atmosphere to the sonic assault, the band’s clear strength is in their uncompromising concept. They act the part of the retro punk band that have no use for the softening up that has happened to a lot of the music that is called punk-rock these days, and rather defend the old ways, where the point was to rally the true fans and to sound as fast, raw and offensive to anyone that didn’t get it. As energetic as their show is though, and as strong as their concept is, it becomes clear that their dogmas also make them a bit of a one-trick pony, and past the half-hour mark the relentless anger starts to hit you less as infectious and more as a bit aggravating. But then are hardcore punk bands of this kind even built to ever play for longer than thirty minutes? After an otherwise good start from the band, it sure seems to put an unnecessary strain on the one thing that Night Fever doesn’t do very well, namely diverse and distinct songwriting. [7] TL

Exodus @ 00:15 on Hades

Legends in a late night slot - what could go wrong for these Bay Area thrash veterans? Having produced some truly iconic genre classics from 1985’s "Bonded by Blood" to 1992’s "Force of Habit", there can be little doubt Exodus have the musical muscle needed to pull this off, yet both the short length of their set and their apparent treatment of the show as another day at the office immediately obliterate any chance of grandeur. "Black 13" and the title track off last year’s "Blood in, Blood out" deliver a modest beginning of uninspiring dime-a-dozen thrash metal and it isn’t until "Piranha" off the aforementioned "Bonded by Blood" record at track three that the quintet’s positioning at what is essentially top-of-the-bill for sub-liners today feels the least bit justified.

Exodus

The concert proceeds per automata, with vocalist Steve Souza’s casual striding from side to side inspiring little energy from the turned up, and there isn’t much enthusiasm to be detected in the precise, yet indifferent instrumentation of his colleagues, guitarists Gary Holt & Lee Altus, bassist Jack Gibson and drummer Tom Hunting’s antics either. Momentary highlights, or rather opportunities for nostalgic headbanging, do emerge during the airing of classics such as "Bonded by Blood" and "The Toxic Waltz", and if you shut your eyes it’s all rather satisfying. But, dismayed by the group’s seeming lack of interest in giving us our dime’s worth, overall one has got to wonder whether Exodus aren’t way past their expiration date at this point? Do us a courtesy, and show us you want to be playing concerts, gentlemen. [6] AP

REVIEWS: DAY 2

SEA

SEA @ 12:45 on Pandæmonium

It was raining most of Thursday and it’s still raining Friday morning, so you wonder if anyone is actually going to come out to watch the local boys in SEA open proceedings early at Pandæmonium. Yet SEA draws a respectable crowd, and deservedly so, as their harmonised guitar histrionics echo ‘Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy while the harder riffs show off the inspiration they draw from the likes of ‘Sabbath and Deep Purple. Heads start nodding approvingly in the audience, and after the rendition of the excellent "Ride On", the rain clouds start to give way for rays of sunlight, making the experience as a whole feel increasingly promising. "Eyes Of Sedona" marks another highlight via the absolutely kickass gear change into its fast-paced bridge. With only one album out, the band opts to treat the festival audience to some older music, among it a cover of "Heaven And Hell" which is well-received. The group performs actively and with a growing confidence on stage, and frontman Anders Brink looks comfortable as he routinely belts out his vocal parts. You do observe his tendency to over-use his full-on croon as the set proceeds, and while a solo from drummer Jonas Bangstrup is played well, it’s also a fairly obvious bid to fill out some time. On the flipside we are treated to a new song called "Sing For Your Right", before getting to hear the band’s leading single "Sorry To Be Sane", which ends proceedings with plenty of cowbell and some ballsy signature riffage to be remembered. Give this band the time to write some more songs with the quality they’ve already displayed, plus an audience that knows them as well as they deserve, and these guys will have the potential to play shows on the line with Copenhell’s best. [7½] TL

Upon A Burning Body

Upon A Burning Body @ 14:00 on Pandæmonium

Although Upon A Burning Body tick pretty much every box when it comes to textbook metalcore, their performance is surely one of the reasons they’ve grown so popular over the years. They’re all wearing fancy jackets on stage, and engage the audience straight away by requiring us to throw up our horns, to pump our fists, to bounce, and every other generic metalcore trick in the book. But why fix what ain’t broken? "Front to back motherfuckers, BOUNCE!" gets everyone in the rather sizable audience this early on to hop up and down all the way to the sound tent, and their immense breakdowns make sure the pit activity isn’t stopping anytime soon. On stage, the band are doing their best to display equal amounts of energy, whether through jumping up and down in unison or showcasing some fairly impressive fretwork every now and then. The vocal problems that plague the early part of the set are fixed rather quickly, which is good, because songs like "Texas Blood Money" get a surprisingly good sing along from the crowd’s side for the "Life sucks, and then you die" breakdown part. Musically the songs aren’t anything that for example Darkest Hour or All That Remains haven’t done better in the past, but at least the band plays in convincing fashion. The last song is a cover with Ice T on the backing track for a song that appeared on the Punk Goes Pop series some time ago, which feels a little off on the set but the crowd likes it anyway. Decent early-afternoon fun. [7] PP

Ensiferum @ 15:30 on Hades

In my book, Ensiferum rank as some of the finest purveyors of folk metal, a status incurred from supreme technical abilities, the strong influence of melodic death metal in their music, and the Finns’ enthralling showmanship. They’ve staged some unforgettable performances in the past, and despite the fact that their latest opus "One Man Army" fell significantly short of my towering expectations, it almost seems a certainty that their concert at Copenhell this afternoon should prove to be as triumphant as their songs sound. Stepping on stage, the quintet are clad in Viking garb, battle smears on their faces, and the frontmost three members are each wielding a midnight blue instrument, creating a sound visual aesthetic in full accordance with the "One Man Army"-themed backdrop hung behind them.

Ensiferum

As ever, bassist Sami Hinkka is a maelstrom of action from the word go, ceaselessly charging across the stage with an exuberant expression on his face, gesticulating wildly with his arms to invite the crowd’s participation. His fist pumping, bass double tapping, lip syncing and immense reservoir of energy have grown to be Ensiferum’s trademark, and during the fantastic "Twilight Tavern" in particular the man looks like he’s living the best day of his life. His compatriots, vocalist/guitarist Petri Lindroos, guitarist Markus Toivonen, keyboard player Emmi Silvennoinen and drummer Janne Parviainen are rather more reserved in their antics, which is unusual, but they perform with gusto and play their parts with precision. The crowd is perhaps not as wild as I’ve seen them, but there’s plenty of horns, fists and singing along taking place nonetheless as my personal favourites "Lai Lai Hei" and "Token of Time" are aired back to back. It’s especially gratifying to be the only person singing along to the former, given much of its lyrics are written in Ensiferum’s native Finnish; yet even in spite of this involuntary exclusion of the remaining audience, the track cuts like a hot knife through butter, earning a roar of acclaim as it draws to an end.

What continues to intrigue me about Ensiferum is that the music, for all of its battle themes, is played with huge conviction. It has its tongue-in-cheek moments, but never lapses into the ridiculous and always maintains a level of intensity seldom seen in the folk metal genre. There is an urgency to these proceedings that fixates the ear and eye alike, and despite technical issues in the samples preventing "Warrior Without a War" from being aired, Ensiferum pull the performance off with finesse and class, proving once more the respect they command in metal circles is not without reason. [7½] AP

Morgoth

Morgoth @ 16:00 on Pandæmonium

I’ll start off by announcing that I wasn’t very familiar with these German death metallers by other than name before I saw them at this year’s Copenhell. Unfortunately nobody else had the time to review them and thus, here we are. After having left the Ensiferum set early, I arrive in front of Pandæmonium just in time to hear the first resounding chords being struck. I am aware of the band’s recent return to form and their first release since 1996 with their new album "Ungod", and it seems a fair amount of people feel the need to check up on where the band stands now even though the space in front of the stage is definitely not filled to the brim. Their ominous music provides a solid onslaught of dark guitar melodies over a steadfast rhythm-section that provides just the right kind of groovy punch and the endless, fast beating of the kick drum gives it all a hypnotic feel. So far so good. Their vocalist keeps to his evil growl when he speaks to us in between songs, providing an unintended, humorous effect after a while and after the party-attitude witnessed at Ensiferum’s set I can’t help being disappointed that Morgoth completely miss the chance of making a joke out of announcing their song "Body Count". All in all they manage to play a well-sounding although not super interesting set that mostly keeps out material from their more dubious releases from 1996 and 1993, to the joy of the low-density crowd that turns up to hear them. [6] LF

Pretty Maids @ 16:30 on Helviti

I am just going to go ahead and be completely honest here: I think Pretty Maids are probably the most overrated thing in Danish rock music. But as the unbiased and open-minded person I am, there’s no way I am going to let this opportunity of being convinced otherwise slide by. The band is playing in replacement for Black Stone Cherry that apparently was in a minor car accident the day before and it has to be said: Pretty Maids are being some fucking troopers here dropping every plan to go help out the Copenhell bookers. But the show starts out just as predictable as I expected. A musical intro of spoken word, primarily consisting of sound bits of everything from Clinton to Nixon drowns out the noise from the very few people who have noticed the change in schedule. Pretty Maids don’t seem to notice the disconnect between this blatant political statement and their melodic, non-offensive version of hard rock.

Pretty Maids

Vocalist Ronnie Atkins a.k.a. Paul Christensen greets the audience in a thick, Jutlandian accent saying something like "We are going to have so much fun today". All I am thinking is just how many songs I have to stay for until I go buy the first beer. It turns out the number is four. So we go buy a few brewskies and venture up to the overlooking "Heaven and Hell Bar" - a tribune like constellation on the hills in the back of the crowd. From here we witness something strange: It actually starts sounding pretty good. I mean if you can overlook that Atkins’ voice is completely ruined from years and years of throat-pressure and that some of the more electronic key-motifs sound like a bad version of Rammstein’s "Ich Will", then Atkins and Co. actually manage to entertain an ever growing audience. So I want to say that the band vindicates themselves towards the end. But let’s be honest: Whether it’s actually the band vindicating anything, the nostalgic euphoria of the crowd being to extremely contagious or simply the beer, is hard to say... [6½] HES

At The Gates

At The Gates @ 18:00 on Helviti

2010 saw the reformation of one of the founding fathers of the world famous Gothenburg-sound of melodic death metal, releasing the amazing comeback album "At War With Reality" last year, their first album in 19 years. At The Gates then was an obvious choice for Copenhell 2015 that saw them give an amazing performance early Friday evening on the Helviti stage. Watching this veteran Swedish band, it is easy to understand why they have had such an impact on modern metal from melodic death metal bands such as The Black Dahlia Murder and Revocation to just about any metalcore band that one can think of, with their 1995-album "Slaughter of the Soul" being one of the most influential metal albums of all time. Twenty years later, the Swedes can still go, and their metal shows no signs of rusting with this performance standing as one of the highlights of this year’s festival. The band played with tremendous energy and their show had plenty of songs spanning their career, with the old material still sounding as fresh and relevant as in the early 90s. The crowd responded well to both new and old songs, as well as to the acknowledgements from vocalist Tomas Lindberg who insisted on addressing his audience in Swedish, which was awesome. About halfway through, the show lost a little momentum, and the crowd could have participated more during the performance, but overall this was a very welcome back to the legendary band who hopefully will continue entertaining us for years to come. [8] MBC

Krokodil

Krokodil @ 18:15 on Pandæmonium

While most bands at Copenhell have strong proven track records, UK "supergroup" Krokodil is still a band of the future, although a promising one if you believe what can already be read about them around the internet. For some reason they are delayed for more than fifteen minutes today though, yet the extra prep time apparently hasn’t helped the mix, as the band’s tri-guitar lineup sounds like a muddy mess coming from Pandæmonium’s sound system. You get the sense that the band wants to be heavy, groovy and aggressive, but any details beyond that are completely drowned in the blur of distortion, at least where we’re standing, fairly close a bit to the right of the stage. Furthermore, while Copenhell often showcases that metal is a flamboyant genre, full of bands with unique appearances and personalities, these guys look and act like every modern metal band ever. With plain appearances save for the various band t-shirts, the members groove about with decent energy, yet wear concentrated, serious facial expressions that leave it entirely to vocalist Simon Wright to make a connection with the crowd. And that’s a tall order considering that the delay has left him without any time to actually speak between songs, and considering that his harsh vocals also sound completely ordinary in the mix today. If one doesn’t know from having listened to last year’s album "Nachash" then, it’s more than difficult to discover anything special about Krokodil, even more so when considering that each member has experience from one or more relatively renowned bands. [5½] TL

Rise Against @ 19:00 on Helviti

That Rise Against is even playing at Copenhell is a testament to the festival having grown so confident in its position that it is now okay to stretch the boundaries of its concept a bit now and then. And on paper, booking the Chicago major label punks is nothing but a good idea, considering that the numerous great songs they have written have earned them a widespread popularity that is even felt in the remote rock & roll region of little ol’ Denmark. The younger and the more open-minded of the festival’s patrons are thus gathered in a solid flock as frontman Tim McIlrath and his colleagues emerge and get started on a high tempo set full of movement, with several members defying the laws of gravity and of fabric integrity, jumping up and down in high split kicks. So far so well, and people up front are happily engaging in singalongs to songs like "Collapse", "Help Is On The Way", "Re-Education Through Labour", "Chamber The Cartridge" and even the classic "Give It All".

Rise Against

Especially if you’ve seen Rise Against before, however, it’s hard not to notice that while they are tight, they are so in an almost machine-like way, which isn’t helped by the distorted guitars coming through all muddled together and occasionally drowning out the vocals (even in the pit, in front of the sound tent). McIlrath’s ragged singing, which sounds so soulful on records, merely rushes through the lyrics while he runs around the stage hyperactively, and you get to wishing that he would calm down and focus on bringing the message across a bit more. This notion is only further underscored when he explains that "We know Denmark just had an important election, but the important thing for you all to remember, is to keep fighting", which sounds every bit like the vague cop-out of a major label artist who is expecting to say something "inspirational", yet is more concerned about whether he might say something that disagrees ever so slightly with any potential fans customers, than with saying something of actual meaning.

The shallow feel of the band’s supposed punk authenticity, as well as the suboptimal sound, both put dampeners on the experience then, but the great songs cannot be fully denied, nor can the exciting acrobatics or the crowd singing along and crowdsurfing up front. It’s not a bad set then, but considering Rise Against’s reputation, you’d expect them to a bit less slick and robotic, and a bit more present and genuine. [7] TL

Code Orange

Code Orange @ 20:00 on Pandæmonium

These American experimental and heavy hardcore punkers, who used to be called Code Orange Kids, are among other things known for their extremely energetic live shows and thus that is of course the kind of show I expect to experience this evening at Pandæmonium. It turns out that the main vocalist in the band is also the drummer and it is left to the three other members to stir up the energy and move around up front on the stage. This dynamic works surprisingly well to begin with as the bassist especially jumps around and paces back and forth for most of the set. Their long-haired guitarist also does her part, throwing herself around her side of the stage with her hair trailing after her in big hypnotic movements, when she is not concentrated on providing contrasting vocals that are just as piercing and loud as the ones provided by the man behind the kit. Their music is fast and noisy but also atmospheric and while this intrigues me for a while, the energy in their set seems to hit a wall or rather a far too steady level about midway. Neither the music on their setlist nor their aggressiveness on stage escalate to the heights that I would have expected and I keep thinking that I would much rather see them at an intimate club show where the band and the audience are up close to each other and can feed off each other’s energy instead of in this more dividing setting. While there are definitely hints of the ferocity they’re rumored to have, this show never quite comes up to par with what I had expected although all four members play well with an appealing, raw attitude. [7] LF

Primordial @ 20:30 on Hades

Remembering the majesty of their performance at 2013’s Hellfest in France, my expectations for Irish Celtic folk/black metal act Primordial’s first ever Danish concert are colossal, to say the least. But as all too often, music as dark, grandiose and atmospheric as theirs is at odds with the sun still illuminating the shipyard when the five piece steps onto the stage, and the circumstances are further worsened by the gusts of wind sweeping away crucial portions of opening track "Where Greater Men Have Fallen". Vocalist A.A. Nemtheanga cuts a formidable figure with his tattered hood and corpse paint, towering over the audience like a regent with his arms spread toward the sky as if to amplify even further the size of the band’s music. He is a sight to behold, no question, and one shouldn’t argue against the stunning power of his voice, part growl, part booming song. But that sensation of being enveloped by the music is struggling to manifest itself, as though escaping the stage and audience and evaporating in the air.

It also strikes me, as "Babel’s Tower" is reached, that Nemtheanga remains the sole visual reference point, with guitarists Ciáran MacUiliam & Micheál O’Floinn and bassist Pól MacAmlaigh resigning themselves to be mere session musicians; extras, if you will. There is nothing going on here, and the daylight sheds unfortunate light on a creeping truth, that without darkness veiling them; without the aesthetics of a light show, Primordial are not a particularly enticing live act. There is nonetheless an authority about them that beckons me to remain and watch, a decision for which I am at once grateful, for the overwhelming grandeur and transcendence of closing duo "The Coffin Ships" and my personal favourite "Empire Falls" finally has me spellbound. It’s too little, too late though, and I walk away from the experience with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. [6½] AP

Kreator @ 21:30 on Helviti

Kreator is, in this writer’s humble opinion, the strongest "veteran" booking by Copenhell this year. Kreator have on countless occasions proven their worth on record and as a ferocious live band. Those who consider Kreator to be a mere copy of Slayer are clearly disillusioned and don't realize that thrash is somewhat formulaic in nature and therefore labelling copy-cats would leave the genre as a spectrum of audial duplicates across the board. Kreator are not Slayer, they are just one of the tightest thrash bands on the planet and therefore are probably honoured to be compared to their metal compatriots.

Kreator

The fire cannons signal the start to "Choir Of The Damned" from the 86' record "Pleasure to Kill. On that mark Kreator send out two masked individuals carrying flares somehow alluding to hooliganism and ritual-theatrics all at the same time. As the band enter the stage, they start by lashing out the classic "Enemy Of God" to the delight of the crowd. Very mobile and truly energetic, the quartet flank the stages and switch positions constantly, despite being seasoned veterans. During the opening song, explosions of confetti are also seen flying across the moshpit. The stage is equipped with huge constructions that double as large display screens showing themes of their different songs. "Terrible Certainty" has drummer Jürgen Reil display his inclination to play his drums LOUD and tight. His skills further displayed in the track "Awakening Of The Gods". "Endless Pain" is as oldschool as it gets and the crowd are inspired by frontman Mile Petrozza to engage in a ferocious circlepit. It is refreshing to see a band still consider crowd manipulation after so many years as performers. The strength of Kreator's performance lies in the sincerity to actually perform with an attitude and a showmanship that you rarely find in weathered thrash groups, "cough-mega-cough-deth." Kreator are insistent on providing a promising display of thrash metal, accompanied by plenty of fiery embers and smoke-machines to darken up the atmosphere. After 11 songs the initial set is finished of by the monumental "Civilization Collapse" that proves Kreator's more extreme and morose approach to thrash. Upon finishing the initial set, the crowd is reconnected with the masked individuals carrying flares, symbolically signalling the end of act 1.

In the encore, "Violent Revolution" brings in the signature pummeling double pedals accompanied by searing guitar work, Kreator are definitely not done for the evening. The crowd pleaser "Pleasure To Kill" is one of the most warmly received tracks of the evening. The ending gives us a treat to "Betrayer" which seals the night in ferocity. It was truly brilliant to finally see what Kreator can do on the live stage and they provided what is thus far the best performance at Copenhell. [8½] MN

Solbrud @ 23:00 on Pandæmonium

Expectations run high for Solbrud who have shaken the underground by storm with their atmospheric and extremely dense take on the black metal genre. Last year, Pandæmonium played host to a similar band in form of Redwood Hill. Considerably different in genre, Solbrud and Redwood Hill are relatable in the sense that they are both young promising bands with a small but astoundingly brilliant discography. The atmosphere created by these largely instrumental bands are transcendent in nature and so damn deep it makes you sway in a trance-like movement.

Solbrud enter the stage backed by a strong blue-white-black visual colour template, and with no focus is placed on their faces, the band stand in their positions almost as reclusive demi-gods or Game Of Thrones white walkers, if you may get that reference. The coolness of this approach is enthralling and Solbrud lash out into "Øde Lagt" a song so viciously dark that both cacophonic and depressing moods are set, yet there is something strangely meditative about the wall-of-sound approach employed by these youngsters.

Solbrud

"Sortedøden" is the second song performed and probably their most popular , where drummer Troels pounds away the blast beats to the eerie dual guitar work. Tallying up to 12 minutes in length, this track develops with small switches in tempo, but still keeps the same theme as a movement would, truly fine art at its absolute darkest. The even longer "Klippemennesket" starts the pace of very slowly that clearly show Solbrud’s inspiration from post-rock. Every track is truly complex and often would deserve a verdict all on its own. It is the show in its entirety that makes complete sense. Solbrud yank you by navel and drag you into the most multidimensional storms, where you may fly through in silence, allowing the music to envelope you into what can be best described as a cathartic experience. Solbrud performed what I consider the strongest extreme metal performance this year, and I therefore merit accordingly. [9] MN

Red Fang

Red Fang @ 23:00 on Hades

Red Fang enter the stage tonight appropriately in red lights and they don't waste any time with idle chit chat before they get down to business. As they were introduced, we were told that they wouldn't say much on stage themselves to begin with and this certainly holds true as it's forty minutes before we hear a word from them outside of their songs. This is a bit of a letdown for me as I expected them to have more of a humorous, drunken behavior on stage similar to how they appear in some of their music videos. Fortunately there's enough to entertain oneself with regardless, as they sound very good tonight, the crisp guitars burning through clearly in the mix while the totality still sounds nice and heavy as it should. Their groovy and fast stoner rock has gathered a decent crowd as well who are calmly grooving in time with the music. Compared to some of the more noisy onslaughts of heavy music that we’ve been witness to so far, Red Fang’s show is a pleasant experience and a welcome one at this point of the day with its more manageable pace and focus on groove. [7½] LF

Castrensis

Castrensis @ 00:00 on Copenhate

The second band at the Copenhate stage is Castrensis, who play brutal death metal, which we very quickly find out is not suitable for a monitors-only performance like tonight. The subwoofer-like vocals and the rapid-fire blastbeat drumming drowns everything underneath it, whilst the band are standing totally still in a static position as if they are glued to the ground. The whole experience is akin to watching a band playing their first show, which doesn’t leave much positive to say about their set. Shitty sound, boring scene show, and the Copenhate area clears itself almost as quickly as it filled up. [4½] PP

Primus @ 00:00 on Helviti

Last summer some of us had the pleasure of catching the performance by Les Claypool's Duo de Twang at Roskilde Festival where some Primus material was also presented, but it is definitely something else entirely to get to hear these crazy, funky, psychedelic songs in the middle of the night with a full band setup instead of on a lazy, sunny afternoon performed only on acoustic guitar and bass. The visual set-up for the Californian trio is as quirky as their music with two giant blow-up mushrooms dominating each side of the stage and each performed song being accompanied by hypnotic and weird video snippets, for instance featuring the silhouette of an elephant jumping repeatedly on a trampoline in negative colors or clips from the "Salad Fingers" animation series. The main man, the band’s bassist and vocalist Claypool himself, even puts on an unsettling pig’s mask that covers half of his face for a while during their performance.

Primus

As a trio that don't take up a lot of space on the stage, Primus' sound is incredibly expansive, probably due in part to the heavy use of effects in their music. Claypool for instance has two microphones to sing into that both twist his voice in different ways and he plays not just a regular electronic bass but also an upright one (electronic as well) later in their show. Initially he plays it with his bare hands but later he also shows his skill with a bow for a more droning, ominous sound. In general the band seems to play very freely, including longer, instrumental jamming sections that sound like the three of them are just spacing out on pure music even as many of these are actually pre-planned parts of songs. The focus is mostly on front man Claypool and his mad bass skills and an adoring fan group that is centered in front of the pit even chant his name at one point, going "Les, Les, Les...". With the display of power Primus put up tonight, the idolization that surrounds the man is only all the more understandable as he slaps and twangs his way through their experimental music while communicating the strange stories and characters of songs like "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver", "Wyonna’s Big Brown Beaver", "Last Salmon Man" or "Mr. Knowitall" with his extremely expressive vocal style.

The only thing that bothers me a little about this performance is that the reverb and other effects on Claypool’s vocals make it hard to hear the actual words he's singing in the beginning of the show. This gets better with time but is a bit of a shame as the weird lyrical universe of Primus’ songs is instrumental to their music. As soon I’m sucked in by the music though, there's no way back, and I forget everything about being cold and tired before Primus went on stage and when some of my favorite tunes, "Too Many Puppies" followed closely by "Mr. Knowitall", appear in convincing and deliciously heavy versions soon after, I’m definitely sold. Primus manage to play a good selection of old classics as well as newer additions to the song pool and they seem to have most of Copenhell gathered for their weird and psychedelic demonstration of power. Definitely one of the very best performances of Copenhell 2015 and possibly of the entire year. [9] LF

Monolord

Monolord @ 01:30 on Pandæmonium

Monolord garnered serious acclaim for their sophomore album "Vænir", and although our metal professor Ellis ‘EW’ Woolley was somewhat more reserved in his assessment of that record, the Swedish trio nonetheless had me on my toes when they were confirmed to appear in lieu of the canceled The Sword. It was a daunting prospect though, having to watch them so late in the night after a long and arduous day of reviewing and knocking back beers, knowing that their stoning, doom ridden tunes have pretty much the opposite effect of energising a brother. Yet at the same time, the darkness now firmly pressed onto the festival area makes it… cozy, somehow, to stand and take in the heavy repetitive grooves. Churning such out is an art the three Swedes master, a fact evidenced by the strong turnout, not to mention the pungent stench of weed lingering in the air. But honestly, aside from the hypnotising effect, Monolord’s music conforms to a pattern used by so many of their ilk, and it rarely produces the sort of revelatory moments necessary to distinguish the band as truly unique. It’s effective though, and serves as a good lullaby for the sleep to come. [6] AP

REVIEWS: DAY 3

Franklin Zoo

Franklin Zoo @ 13:00 on Pandæmonium

Franklin Zoo are here as the winners of the ‘Tak Rock’ campaign by Royal Beer, but they are no strangers to the Copenhagen live circuit. They play a fairly straight up style of grunge revival that sounds almost identical to the likes of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, which is also personified in their stage appearance, which features their guitarist without a shirt for added rock star charisma. They play a few newer songs to their set, and ask us if we’re awake just yet given their early slot, but the same issues plague the band as have done in the past: their songwriting is good enough to write decent songs but true highlight tracks are missing. As such, yours truly is jotting down notes about ’not much going on’ on my phone, aside from the last song which sees their singer down at the barrier to greet the crowd. They need a "Black Hole Sun"-level song to stand up comparison against the past greats. [6] PP

Horned Almighty @ 14:00 on Pandæmonium

I’m feeling shattered this afternoon, but fortunately, Danish black’n’rollers Horned Almighty have the cure. No doubt their fusion of Motörhead gallop and vicious black metal would function better in the dark of night, but it is refreshing to witness that even in high sun, the quartet still plays with attitude. Indeed, the loud and groovy balls-to-the-walls formula and the band’s energetic and commanding presence is exactly the way to rustle the hangover off the turned-up-early, their burning desire to play rubbing off on each and every one of us. Fair enough, Horned Almighty’s music is neither original nor particularly ambitious, but it is engaging, and in a genre often marred by truism and dead seriousness, it’s a breath of fresh air to witness this more tongue-in-cheek way of doing things (for some context: the three instrumental musicians call themselves Hellpig, Harm and Haxen). Once their 35-minute set winds to a close, yours truly is awake and cracking open a beer. Day three, here we go. [7] AP

Huldre playing in the forest

Huldre @ 15:30 on Hades

If you’re a folk metal band called Huldre and you wanna oomph up your stage, what do you then do? "Why not add a forest? " seems to be Huldre’s answer. And even though I am not very much into the whole folk metal game, I’ll have to say that it does add a pretty nice backdrop for the large band consisting of both violin, flute, guitar, lute, bass, drums and the weirdest contraption I have ever seen: A hurdy-gurdy, which is a hand-cranked lute-looking string instrument with a very non-distinctive sound. In a review on this site of the band’s debut album "Intet Menneskebarn" our Editor-in-Chief slammed vocalist Nanna Barslev’s vocals, so I expected the very worst, but turns out Barslev has a big, full semi-gothic voice that is actually quite pleasant to listen to from our spot in the grass, the sun showing its face for the first time this weekend. And even though I don’t really buy into the whole "This song is about a troll smashing a village" kind of lyrics, the crowd seems very entertained, singing along with great vigour and I find myself surprised to actually nodding a bit along some of the more melodic violin-pieces. If you are into folk metal, I would actually make sure to check out Huldre, at least for the amazing tree-feature. [7] HES

Halshug

Halshug @ 16:00 on Pandæmonium

Copenhagen-based crust/hardcore three peace Halshug played Saturday afternoon on the small Pandæmonium stage. The band has seen some success after having signed with quality label Southern Lord and if this Copenhell performance is any indication of the type of band that Halshug is, then the future seems bright for the young band. Playing a Deathwish-esque form of brutal and ferocious hardcore and punk, the band chooses substance over form with very little stage movement and few acknowledgements of the crowd in a performance that had similarities to Trap Them on the same stage at last year’s festival. Halshug’s music is raw, fast and heavy and luckily also very tight and well played. Although the crowd did not participate much, a large amount seemed to be digging the music and nodding their heads along to it. The show was rather short and somewhat repetitive, but Halshug had good energy and delivered some quality hardcore for the afternoon crowd. [7] MBC

Hammerfall @ 16:30 on Helviti

Power metal is an embattled and often ridiculed subgenre of metal, and although Sweden’s Hammerfall are commonly labelled plainly as "heavy metal" first and "power metal" second, you can hear those in the know arguing vividly prior to their show, over whether the band is too corny to bother watching. An argument that seems somewhat ironic though, considering that The Darkness are heading up the bill later on. Similarly to the beloved Iron Maiden, Hammerfall appear with the confidence of seasoned entertainers, striding up in front of a stage decorated with banners that, of course, have a fantasy setting complete with an ominous castle on it, with elevated platforms that the members can run around upon. And so they do, run around and kick the air, while delivering tunes that are as conventional and theatrical in sound as they are efficient in structure. The mix is crystal clear, letting you appreciate the full sound of both the reverberating chords, the harmonised solo work as well as the expert singing of frontman Joacim Cams, which is heavy on the vibrato of course.

Hammerfall

You can tell that Hammerfall is still a bit short of a household name here in their neighboring country, as their songs are not all known to everyone, but their qualities are still apparent to the people that have approached the stage to give them a chance, and a considerable gathering of guests soon pump their fists and raise their horns to show their appreciation for the band’s professional delivery. The classics "Renegade" and "Let The Hammer Fall" are highlights, as is "Hearts On Fire", which particularly gets people to sing along. Yet the overarching impression is simply that Hammerfall is delivering an animated, solid set, which is easy to enjoy for old and new fans alike, and entirely free of trifles that many Copenhell bands seemingly struggle with, like poor sound or poorly rehearsed technique. And so in many ways the show is a lot like last year’s Within Temptation set: You can look long and hard for innovation and even authenticity in the band’s songwriting and overall expression, but when it comes to playing a show where all the details are in check, you can only nod in recognition and take notes. [8] TL

Asking Alexandria @ 18:00 on Hades

One of the more ridiculed bands at this year's Copenhell and probably the one with the altogether youngest audience is British metalcore band Asking Alexandria who recently replaced their singer, the notorious Danny Worsnop who left to focus on his other band We Are Harlot, with the younger Denis Stoff. Stoff is from Ukraine and ironically used to sing in Make Me Famous who were once accused of ripping off the band he's now the new lead singer of. Talk about your dreams coming true. It’s obvious from seeing the band perform that it’s a good thing for them with new blood to fuel their breakdown-heavy, electronically backed music, with Stoff being extremely active and striking all the right poses to excite especially the female part of the fans. Guitarist Ben Bruce who was the one who started the band way back also gets his time in the spotlight although the pressure of energizing the crowd is clearly on Stoff.

Asking Alexandria

They play a set list that has contributions from all their albums, with their oldest and may I say most dumbed-down songs last. They make heavy use of their backing track, most obviously in their newest single, "I Won’t Give In", which is strange as it should be the one song Stoff feels most at home in as it wasn’t written for someone else than him. He does good in most of the set though but his vocals (as well as his physical appearance) definitely mostly resemble a younger Worsnop and thus he struggles with singing the singles "Run Free" and "The Death of Me" from the band’s 2013 album where Worsnop had taken a more grungy approach to singing (and grown a full beard). "The Final Episode [Let’s Change Channel" which infamously begins with massive breakdowns to the screams of "OH! MY! GOD!" ends the set on a high note however as I’m positively surprised by their overall performance. Their music, and lyrics especially, might be horrid at times but if nothing else, their songs are also incredibly catchy and energetic and for anyone that doubted them, they prove today that they are definitely not even close to being done making music just yet.

[7] LF

Nuclear Assault

Nuclear Assault @ 18:15 on Pandæmonium

Formed in 1984, three years before my emergence into this world, New York City, NY based Nuclear Assault are apparently legendary in some underground sense of the word. I must confess my ignorance in this respect, but be that as it may, one thing is obvious: they’re experienced. The quartet plays in an almost arrogant, "We got this" sort of way, churning out one obscure thrash metal banger after another distinguished only by the unusual high-pitched vocal style of frontman John Connelly much to the amusement of a very small, but persistent moshpit. The trouble is, there is a reason Nuclear Assault have been condemned to oblivion in the eyes of most metal aficionados, and why they never attained the levels of success enjoyed by thrash metal’s heavyweights: their extensive repertoire, which features six studio albums and a plethora of singles, compilations, demos, singles and EPs, failed to produce any particularly noteworthy songs. Don’t get me wrong, the stuff aired tonight is decent at all times - it’s just never amazing. No matter: the show is sufficiently entertaining, especially as a number of the songs are played so fast Connelly resigns to simply muttering "hububububububaa!" or something along those lines instead of actually bothering to sing. A pleasant afternoon barrage of classic thrash with no bullshit, but also very little lasting value. [6] AP

Gojira @ 19:00 on Helviti

Gojira are famous for slaying live, but even so nothing could have prepared the Copenhell audience for the bedlam they unleash here. From the opening salvo of "Ocean Planet" to the apocalyptic stomp of "Vacuity", tonight’s showing marks one of those rare occasions when absolutely everything clicks, band and audience forming a perfect reciprocal process, a mutual respect and psychic understanding of how to generate pandemonium. The volume is so monstrously high one fears the very fundament of these docks might rupture and hell itself be discharged from beneath when the aptly titled "Heaviest Matter of the Universe" is aired; the fervour of the audience so devastating it’s a miracle no one is hurt in one of the most enormous mosh- and circle pits ever witnessed on Danish soil. What’s most interesting about the performance, however, is that with the exception of bassist Jean-Michel Labadie’s typically mental antics, Gojira rely exclusively on the might of their music to conjure the magical atmosphere that befalls the Helviti area for the duration of their set.

Gojira

Indeed, these Frenchmen have such supreme confidence in their own abilities, and perform with such chastening superiority that all else becomes superfluous. Only the menacing expression on vocalist/guitarist Joe Duplantier’s face; only the superhuman talent of his brother behind the drumkit, Mario Duplantier; only the transcendental ideas of guitarist Christian Andreu matter. To watch these elements unfold during a song like "Backbone" or an ultra-heavy rendition of "L’Enfant Sauvage" is to witness the formation of the complete concert. Gojira sounds like a hyper-efficient factory producing heavy alloys, and can, on the basis of their showmanship tonight, rightly call themselves one of the metal titans of our generation, the future headliners of major European metal festivals. And during the 11 songs plus drum solo included on the setlist, the quartet never loses focus, never lets the foot off the pedal, such that virtually every passing song forms a definitive highlight. This is an absolute masterclass in the art of delivering an unforgettable concert, and in all honesty, it should have been Gojira topping the Saturday bill. One cannot but bow in respect. [10] AP

Raunchy

Raunchy @ 20:00 on Pandæmonium

Raunchy have long been one of the most consistent Danish metal bands, and probably one of the most unique ones given their tightrope-like balance between digitized pop melodies and heavy metal riffs. Their ability to write infectiously catchy songs has won them big record contracts and a solid amount of international touring, so it’s no surprise to find the band playing as tightly as their international counterparts tonight. "Digital Dreamer", for instance, sounds absolutely fantastic tonight, and recent addition on the vocals, Mike Semesky, does a damn fine job on the vocal department. Song after song the band delivers instantly catchy pop metal passages that slowly up the crowd dynamic into something quite special that’s at its best towards the end of the set. Semesky brings some American front man attitude from his time with djent-oriented metallers Intervals, which is a refreshing change as the amount of charisma this man has is quite strong indeed. The band could move a little more on stage for my liking, but this is a classic case of playing so many good songs that they actually carry the show on their own. That’s why my notes are jotted with lines like "Great songs", "Very catchy pop metal songs" all over the place. A solid performance that could become outright spectacular if the band find some more intensity on stage in terms of their individual performances in the future. [8] PP

Turbonegro

Turbonegro @ 20:30 on Hades

I was really looking forward to Turbonegro, beer in hand, hoping for a bit of fun at this otherwise very serious and dark festival. Turbonegro pretty much looks like a men’s sauna in the 1980’s complete with daisy-dukes and various Village People-themed head attire. But thing is: It is not really funny. The band seems a little burned out and the get-up seems more like an excuse to not really entertain more than is barely necessary. Overall the band seemed tired, and as we reach a crescendo of the band’s biggest hit "I Got Erection" it seems more like the audience (and several members of the band’s loyal fan club "Turbojugend") is having the party, not really the band that fails to really connect to the audience atop of exhaust-pipe punk. Maybe - dare I say it - is Turbojugend getting too old for this? Or is their music just so completely reliant on the humour, that it either hits or misses depending on the band hitting the right night? Overall, also as a part Norwegian I feel disappointed with my first Turbonegro-experience. [5] HES

The Darkness @ 21:30 on Helviti

The Darkness is one of the more acrimoniously rated bands of this years Copenhell. Most discussions debate whether The Darkness is metal enough, or whether they are a band that is ferociously outdated and truly only made one song worth remembering. 12 years have gone by since the quartet released the seminal debut in form of "Permission To Land", where songs like "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" and "Love Is Only A Feeling" are remembered for their flamboyant cheek but guilt-pleasure ridden catchiness. Yours truly was a massive fan of that first record where virtually every song contained a stupidly catchy riff and nothing was more fun than to attempt to sing along to Justin Hawkins freakishly high falsetto.

The Darkness

Expectations were uneasy as I saw a somewhat meager gathering in front of the large Helviti stage where The Darkness are set to enter any minute now. Luckily people start to gather up closer as the band walks in with their signature 80’s glam costumes and by the start of "Barbarian", lead vocalist Justin runs the stage in a funny Mick Jagger impression. One of the heydays greatest "Growing On Me" is followed up where a couple of old fans begin to spark some excitement in the crowd.

It is clear from the get-go that this is going to be one hell of a tough crowd as the audience is filled with conservative metal heads. It eventually dawns on the band that their cheeky crowd-banter is not working, thus they start to work more on performing their songs as meticulously as possible. There can be absolutely no doubt that these 4 are absolute star musicians at their respective instruments. Every song features a cocky but admirable solo or two, but it is definitely Justin that portrays the most enthusiasm of them all. "Black Shuck" is performed in the best AC/DC manner where the main riff has the crowd at least shuffling their feet. As one of the only really successful tracks of their sophomore album "One Way Ticket" provides a good singalong that I start to notice that the crowd are starting to warm up The Darkness, rather than shun them as irrelevant.

"Get Your Hands Of My Woman" is also performed with a strong punk-like attitude. The guitar work in the somewhat cheesy ballad "Love Is Only A Feeling" is commendable, but it is at the first encore that Justin shows his great showmanship. He decides to sit upon the shoulders of a bouncer and solo his way throughout the front pits, to the joy of many. Properly lubricated, the crowd finally get to experience the timeless classic in form of "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" which signals the night’s strongest highlight.

The Darkness faced adversity but clinically changed their tactics to suit their audience. Perhaps not one of their strongest performances, yet The Darkness are a band that are known for their comedic presence and luckily can handle a tough crowd like the one at Copenhell. It would be fun to see them perform an independent show to all the fans that truly love them. [7] MN

Marduk

Marduk @ 22:30 on Pandæmonium

Probably the most evil and satanic band on the bill this year, Marduk bring on their aggressive black metal with a sense of fortitude few bands possess at the festival. "Are you fucking with us tonight!?", growls the manifestation of evil himself, Mortuus, while the band ups the brutality levels a notch for their next track. That’s why it’s strange to find the crowd so anemic and barely moving, but then again it is late and this is the last day of the festival, so everyone’s probably super drunk and tired simultaneously. However, the descent of darkness upon Copenhell during their set does wonders to the band as their songs receive an additional atmospheric element on top of the pitch black metal soundscape. Finally, the crowd seems to wake up as well, but it’s a little bit too late. Marduk do their best to create an unforgettable late night experience, but they have been better in the past. [7½] PP

Bloodbath

Bloodbath @ 23:00 on Hades

Another band on this scribe’s list of must-sees is the reincarnated Swedish death metal outfit Bloodbath, and their justifiable scheduling for the coveted late night slot on Hades bodes well. The kind of extremity they profess wouldn’t reach its full potential in daylight; blackness on the other hand, would only heighten the blasphemic undertones of their music. It must be said, the production on stage is extraordinary, the numerous backdrops and banners positioned in such a way as to generate a three-dimensional illusion, and the lighting, too, is wonderfully maleficent. With such visuals in place, all signs point toward a triumphant performance, but alas, it all starts to seem like mere smoke and mirrors when the five musicians initiate the concert with "Let the Stillborn Come to Me". The visuals are in order; they’re even scintillating. But the band plays with such standardised professionalism it’s impossible to take all the fuss about their supposed evil seriously. What is missing is the sense of looming terror, the look of a man possessed in Nick Holmes’ stare, and a level of intensity so suffocating that it would be impossible to look elsewhere. Instead, the experience is that of seasoned musicians playing their material with the utmost precision, but without passion. Applause for the grasps at grandeur with those props; but aside from the gratification that songs like "Soul Evisceration" and "Mock the Cross" inflict on the ears, Bloodbath’s belief that they can stride through a bill topping slot without breaking a sweat is sorely miscalculated. [6] AP

Apparatus

Apparatus @ 00:00 on Copenhate

The final band for yours truly at Copenhell is Apparatus, the demonical noise makers that draw their inspiration from the same barren, desolate Scandinavian winters as bands like Hexis and The Psyke Project. The only difference? They’re more black metal by nature. Tonight, they take the stage wearing freakish masks that recall this infamous scene from Eyes Wide Shut, creating an oddly fitting vibe of mystery around their set. Brooding, unrelenting barrages of senseless noise follows for the next half an hour or so, yet the constant devastation is oddly hypnotic especially at such a late hour. It sounds almost as evil as Marduk just before, albeit the aggression level is not quite as stark in comparison. It’s clearly the best band playing at the Copenhate stage out of the three, which can be determined not only from their soundscape but also from the execution of their theme, their professional showmanship on stage, and ability to craft such a haunting atmosphere around what should essentially be unlistenable music. Certainly better than their studio album, that’s for sure. [7] PP

Blues Pills

Blues Pills @ 00:00 on Pandæmonium

Signing up to review Blues Pills was a no brainer, given my limited enthusiasm about the evening’s ill-chosen headliner, and it takes only a minute-or-so of "High Class Woman" to convince me that my gut feeling was trustworthy. Despite the inevitable clash for man a fan, the turnout for this midnight seance is not meagre, and it shows in the elated expression of vocalist Elin Larsson. Her voice sounds spectacular here, the mix finding a perfect balance between raw power and delicate beauty, but truly, it is the Woodstock ‘69-recalling jams of Dorian Sorriaux on the guitar, Zack Andersson on the bass, and André Kvarnström behind the drums that intrigue me most. The music of Blues Pills is ridden with solo work, and from this they’re able to conjure a fascinating, enchanting atmosphere as if one was part of some joyous hippie ritual. Short though the setlist may be, it’s one bristling with standout moments, with the duo "Black Smoke" and "Little Sun" sending yours truly into rainbow coloured, kaleidoscopic heaven. Not only can these boys and girls play, their music is also something as rare as unique within the confines of heritage rock, as the gospel and soul mixing "Devil Man" at the end of the set proves. A wonderfully fuzzy, psychedelic conclusion to my sixth Copenhell. [8] AP

Ghost @ 00:00 on Helviti

My initial impression of Ghost was admittedly not of a convincing nature. Last time they played Copenhell, they played in broad daylight to a disinterested audience on the Hades stage. The sound was a tad meager and the vocals did not have any sort of potency. I quickly lost interest and ventured on to something else. The astronomic rise Ghost have experienced since that day is mind-boggling, and for this reason I decided to give their album another spin and read up on what the fuss is all about. To those not informed, Ghost is a theatrical rock/metal opera which is heavily inspired by the roman catholic church, albeit, in its dichotomous format where Satan is the one being worshipped.

Ghost

The band is lead by the charismatic antichrist figure by the name of Papa Emeritus, a man whose disciples and himself have managed to stay anonymous to the known crowd. Perhaps their success is owed in part to this reclusive nature, just like slipknot managed to pull off anonymity for a longer period during the 90’s. Their music is an interesting poppy mix of classic heavy metal, progressive rock, hints of psychedelia and rock-opera. Being the last headliner shows, bodies are filled with fatigue and something spectacular is meant to happen in order to have the crowd seem interested, and admittedly, the stage is beautifully decorated with the ritualistic satanic theme with large mosaics colouring the backstage. Befittingly, "Masked Ball" opens the nights performance as the so-called nameless ghouls (the instrumentalists) enter the stage sporting monkish robes and admittedly badass masks to cover their identity.

Ghost are off to a great start with "Genesis" that allows all instruments to reach some sort of unity to the entrance of Papa Emeritus. Unfortunately, attention is lost a bit a third into the set, where songs like Death Knell kind of drag on. When Papa Emeritus decides to communicate it is wickedly funny. Not because he has a knack for comedy, but the accent truly sounds like a blend of leprechaun, Italian grandfather and Swedish redneck. The shows continues with great theatrics and a commendable sound that is miles better than their previous show. The crowd truly livens up at the onset of "Cirice" a new track from 2014 that releases some of the last energy reserves of the truly exhausted Copenhell crowd. The energy level continues with one of the nights clear highlights "Stand By Him", a true classic heavy metal riff. The encore contains some great songs like "The Monstrance Clock" a masquerade classic which brings the best of Ghost to the front with regards to songwriting. A solid an hour and 15 of music seals the Helviti stage for this year and I stand a bit perplexed as to how evaluate the last effort.

One thing's for sure, Ghost are definitely headliner material. Their songs are catchy and memorable, and their theatrics on stage are tailor-made for a live performance. On a point of criticism, Ghost could use more of their stage presence, perhaps through more visual effects, especially considering how sleepy the crowd was. It seemed like a tactical mistake to allow Ghost to close the night, as Gojira would easily have pulled off a more energetic show. Still, pretty cool show that I definitely would like to see at an independent venue. [7½] MN

Final Words

When all’s said and done, this year’s Copenhell was usual a great experience overall. Metal was listened, beer was downed, shots were popped, and atmosphere was sky high throughout the festival - with the exception of the mediocre last day where the majority of people had departed the festival long before Ghost started their set. We’ve now reached a point where Copenhell has become a steadfast Copenhagen event that the city looks forward to each year, a part of the diverse cultural heritage of Denmark as a whole. To call it a Scandinavian staple is starting to make sense as word is spreading about the unique atmosphere created by the event.

Nighttime view of the church

Still, like in our article last year, the festival could do with a bit of a refresher. Not just in terms of the lineup (keep expanding diversity, we say!), but also with new ideas for the festival place. The ‘Smadreland’ experience was a little bit less exciting this year, just like it was a little bit less exciting the year before that. The novelty is starting to wear off several aspects of the festival, which is why it could be great with an entirely new area to replace one of the aging aspects of the festival. Perhaps a medieval area next year? Or something fantasy-themed given all the symphonic folk metal bands that play the festival? The less repetition the better.

But these are but minor gripes with what is quickly becoming one of the best festivals in the country. As usual, we’ll finish off the article with a few bullet points on what we thought worked and what didn’t work so well this year. PP

Can beers! Awesome addition

THE GOOD

  • Fantastic scheduling: few festivals are able to ensure you get to see almost every band playing.
  • Plenty of toilets available.
  • The hill and its associated bars is an awesome overview of the festival
  • Great atmosphere
  • Ability to exchange wristband at Pumpehuset the night before opening
  • Option to buy cans instead of pints - much more convenient for a number of reasons, and probably also cleaner considering that people will pick them up for pant.
  • Great visual aesthetic - the festival has this complete metal feel to it (names of food stalls, the side shows, non-concert activities, etc.)
  • Premium options like Smoke’N’Hell, Sort Kro, etc for those with a flavor for the exquisite parts in life.
  • Improvements to Biergarten: better sound, better crowd. Mandowar were great.
  • Copenhell signature hot sauce available in the official merchandise stand
  • Lot of food stalls now offer a Mobile Pay option to payment
  • The food options in general have improved from earlier years

Opening day queue

THE BAD

  • One of the weaker lineups in Copenhell history: smaller crowd overall as a result.
  • Camerawork at Helviti for the screens. Only one angle - needs more cameramen next year.
  • Beer price increase to 50 DKK. Sure, 10 cl bigger cups and option for 0.5 L cans, but paying 50 DKK for a can feels like a total rip off.
  • Insane queue on opening day with over an hour of waiting time. Needs to be optimized.
  • Absindssyg was not available to try at the festival. Very disappointing.

THE UGLY

  • Still cash only at bars. Sort Kro were able to take credit card. Every other festival can make this work, why can’t Copenhell?
  • Vegetarian food options few and abysmal. If they booked more hardcore bands this would be a serious problem given the genre’s straight edge tendencies.

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR.

All photos by: Lykke Nielsen, Marika Hyldmar, and Philip B. Hansen

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