Copenhagen Metal Fest 2021

author PP date 22/09/21

This is the sophomore edition of Copenhagen Metal Fest, which debuted two years ago with a focus on promoting the Danish metal scene - at least for the time being. It's organized and run by our counterparts in the Danish magazine Heavymetal.dk, so plenty of expertise into the bells and whistles of what makes Danish metal fans tick is a guarantee.

Indeed, this experience shows throughout the lineup. Pretty much the entire spectrum of metal is represented here from the murkiest of black metal and symphonic metal to the most modern of metalcore and deathcore, not to even mention a hardcore band or two on the lineup as well. The bookings are also a combination of timely newcomers as well as experienced veterans, which means there's something on offer to just about every kind of metalhead out there.

This year's edition is fully sold out in advance of the festival, so once we arrive at the Plaza outside Amager Bio/BETA complex on Friday later afternoon, it's already filled with spikes and battle-vests, and folks dressed in various shades of black for good measure. There are a few merch booths outside as well as a couple of food options, but really, you're in central Amager so if you don't like any of the latter, there are about 15 restaurants within a five-minute walking distance to choose from. Optimal location, you could say.

This year, we're only able to cover the first day of the festival with words due to various conflicting arrangements mostly caused by Covid-19 postponements, but we also bring you photographs from all of Saturday at the bottom of this article. PP

LINEUP

MØL - DEFECTO

EYES - SHADOWSPAWN - ENDARKEN - WAYWARD DAWN - SOLBRUD - SATURNUS - IOTUNN - SYLVATICA - DEADNATE - CLIENTS

Cabal - Aphyxion - Idaslet - Hearteater - Chronicle - Sansera - Furious Trauma - Lamentari - The Dark Overlords - Furious Trauma - Feather Mountain - Persecutor - Eciton

Friday 17 September

Lamentari

Lamentari @ 17:30 on Amager Bio

My Copenhagen Metal Fest experience starts with the blackened symphonic death metal of Lamentari. They are fully covered in white face paint, and the vocalist dons a long, black trenchcoat, gesturing widely with his hands whilst shrieking into the microphone black metal style. It's almost like witnessing a ritual, albeit a very dramatic and theatrical one. Supplemented with technical melodies, their lead guitar showcases wizard-like fretwork through impressive solos, and they even throw in a classical piano solo by their keyboardist into the mix. Characteristic to the whole experience is a majestic atmosphere created by their orchestral segments (from the backing track), which is stunning and monumental at first but could use a little variety over a 45-minute set. While the material is solid for its genre, it does feel samey towards the end of their set. [7]

Hearteater

Hearteater @ 18:45 on BETA

The majority of artists performing tonight might be from classical metal genres. Not so with Hearteater. Here, we're knee-deep in southern fried metalcore with plenty of post-hardcore elements in the mix. Their vocalist is screaming above the crowd while hanging from the ceiling ventilation units on multiple occasions until one of them breaks, inducing mosh pits in the intimate confines of BETA. There are sing-alongs to "Fire", accompanied by raw screams and even a couple of stage dives. "Come closer... haven't you missed live shows", their vocalist teases us, even calling out a couple of audience members by name. Eventually, people oblige, and more mosh pits form. That's pretty much how the show goes back-and-forth with decent energy, but in a live setting, Hearteater's songwriting issues are laid bare: they blend together way too much and the result is a generic sound that doesn't leave behind a particularly memorable impression. [6½]

Aphyxion

Aphyxion @ 19:30 on Amager Bio

Aphyxion has come a long way from its melodeath origins. Nowadays they showcase plenty of anthemic, arena metal style choruses that contrast the melodic growls of vocalist Michael Vahl nicely. It's clear that the band is accustomed to playing on larger stages now from their huge banner through the smoke pillars that rise across the stage to the charming chatter by Michael. "This song is about the end of the world", is how almost all songs are announced, yet the melancholic melodies and synth-driven soundscapes don't necessarily give that away. "It's disco dasco time, my friends", he continues before another synth-driven chorus takes over in the form of "Dark Stains On Ivory", highlighting his charismatically laid-back and friendly Jutland approach to crowd control. "Restless Nights" follows, before the instantly catchy "Pain" almost invites for a sing-along. "Not Gonna Make It" is introduced as a new track from their upcoming album with a bombastic soundscape with plenty of melodies and an overall anthemic vibe, quite far separated from their melodic death metal foundation. Plenty of other good songs are aired, but the band's problems remain two-fold: one, they are very static on stage, meaning not much is happening. When you combine that with the monotonous vocals, you can't help but compare the expression to how Raunchy does it, and they just do it better. A decent set, which didn't captivate the crowd given it noticeably thins out throughout the set before "Sleepwalkers" closes it off. [6½]

Clients

Clients @ 20:30 on Zebu

Clients are playing at the smallest stage of the festival, the intimate Zebu that's accessible directly from the side doors of Amager Bio. The venue is drenched in brooding dark red light that looks like a photographer's nightmare, whilst the band themselves deliver a brutalized, rapid-fire interpretation of blackened death metal. It's a thick, vicious sound featuring guttural growls and insanely technical percussion, with double-pedal pummeling pretty much throughout the set. Their vocalist spends most of the set growling with his hand behind his back, whilst his colleagues engage in occasional headbanging. But just like Aphyxion before them, there's a constant nagging feeling that not much is going on aside from the fairly big mosh pit that forms early on. The musicianship is so brutal and unforgiving that first-time listeners like yours truly have little to no chance of getting much of anything out of their set, especially when their stage presence is as static and concentrated as it is. Kudos for technicality, but otherwise left behind a fairly average death metal impression. [6]

Solbrud @ 21:30 on Amager Bio

Admittedly, it does take quite a bit of time and concentration to get into Solbrud in a live setting, which is why I heard many comments later on that their form of black metal just isn't for them. But in reality, Solbrud is just miles ahead of just about every other band playing here tonight. Their atmospheric black metal is as beautiful as it is hypnotizing, forging a far-reaching, expansive sound that captivates those on the floor and encompasses the entire venue into a state of tranquility. Seldom have I seen a crowd stand as awe-inspired as here, where drunken conversations disappear and are replaced by consistent headbangs and lost stares towards the stage. And by lost, I mean fully disappeared into the depths of Solbrud's incredible soundscape. Their continuous, melodic shredding and subtle percussion simply create an unmatched ambiance tonight that ends up drawing wild cheers from the crowd as soon as the first mammoth-length song ends. It's just a perfect execution from the black metal shrieks to their ability to paint a vivid musical landscape.

Solbrud

Where previous bands suffered from a static stage show, Solbrud do the opposite and benefit from standing almost completely still. They represent an unmoveable force and a complete soundscape, which feels all the more complete as the smoke effects disappear the band into a mist. That they can deliver this convincing performance even while missing the usual guitar of their vocalist due to a broken wrist is all the more impressive. Brilliant experience. [8½]

Eyes

Eyes @ 22:45 on BETA

What absolute brilliant chaos is this? Their vocalist delivers the very first few lines and thereafter stares us down like a lunatic. BETA is packed to its limits and instantly after a crazy pit forms with an intensity that takes me back to when Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes destroyed this venue to pieces some years back. The poor photographers up front are struggling with the insane amount of activity upfront, and the band visibly feeds off this energy and strikes back with a level of urgency and immediacy seldom seen on Danish ground, let alone by a Danish band. With razor-sharp, ferocious screams and incredible energy on stage, Eyes take the venue from zero to a hundred in a split second that's highlighted by stage divers, chaotic walls of death, and wild crowd energy overall where everyone is mashed together as if Corona never existed in the first place. Even the band themselves appear overwhelmed by the crowd's performance here, which they then continue to replicate on stage. Utter chaos and hardcore fury with discordant technical segments to book - an awesome experience that pretty much everyone who was there will continue to talk about for years to come. [8½]

Defecto @ 23:30 on Amager Bio

The spacious floor speaks volumes about where Defecto is as a band in 2021. In a venue that fits 1200 people in sold-out capacity, it looks and feels like there can't be more than 200 in here for what is supposed to be the headline show tonight but essentially feels misplaced on the program. And there's a simple reason for that: Defecto still sound like they are searching who they wanna be: their songs vary from generic heavy metal to basic arena metal with a few progressive segments in between, but based on the size of their giant banner, their staged poses for the photographers upfront, and their continuously changing soundscape, you get the impression that they are trying just about everything possible to become famous rather than let it happen as a result of their music.

Defecto

And herein lies the problem: Defecto anno 2021 sounds like an amalgam between Napalm and Massacre Records rosters circa the mid-2000s, with the latest album sounding like Avenged Sevenfold has been an influence. Translation: soulless heavy metal that sounds just good enough not to suck but not better than that. Sure, they have dueling solos and some impressive fretwork scattered throughout, but the songs overall just sound so freaking generic. To be fair, they do try their best. Shredding on guitars, platform moves, big poses, etc. It's just uninteresting, which is why Rob Halford could drive his motorcycle straight through their crowd tonight without having to dodge anyone. [6]

Saturday 18 September

Furious Trauma @ 16:30 on Amager Bio

Furious Trauma

Cabal @ 19:00 on Amager Bio

Cabal

Iotunn @ 20:15 on BETA

Iotunn

Saturnus @ 21:00 on Amager Bio

Saturnus

Endarken @ 22:30 on BETA

Endarken

Møl @ 23:15 on Amager Bio

Møl

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

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