Scream Festival II

author PP date 31/03/08

Stepping into the second edition of the Scream Festival, held annually in Helsinge, a town in Northern Sjaelland, Denmark, was a bit of a weird experience to someone just visiting the area. I arrived at Gribskov Kultursal expecting a tiny bar the size of Stengade 30/Barfly at most, but instead had my jaw drop to the ground when I saw the size of that thing. A quick shout would've echoed several times across the empty hall that usually is home to performances by symphonic orchestras, and my rough estimate puts the capacity of the venue somewhere closer to 1500 than the 100 or so people who had showed up for the festival. At least the acoustics are perfect, I thought to myself when walking across the hall, and thank god I brought cash instead of plastic for the bar that was merely a table set up in one of the sides of the festival hall. But all of this made for an interesting atmosphere inside the venue. Filled mostly with locals but also with a few people traveling from a bit further away, a sense of anticipation floated in air before each performance. Curiously enough, headliners The Psyke Project originate from this very town, as do the organizers Lack Of Heart. Combine that with the odd location, and you can be sure this festival wasn't set up for the money anywhere near as much as it was set up for the music. Nonetheless the organizers were able to book up and coming Danish names and even a Dutch band on tour with Illdisposed to the bill. Thumbs up.


The Ghostname

Grindcore/Death metal fusionists The Ghostname were first up, giving the festival a brutal kick start through deep growls and scorching screams. Their stated influences are easily heard in their music, Nasum, Suffocation and The Red Chord all shine through their technically proficient, murderous version of the two said genres. On stage, The Ghostname was decent, showing off the serpentine riffs of death metal and the nonsensical riff structures of Grindcore, but suffered heavily from the massive size of the venue. Grindcore/Death metal just isn't meant to be played at venues of this size, at least when there's so much empty space around. The end result? A blurry mess of bass-heavy echo around the hall. Had the hall been more than half full their sound would've come across much thicker, and consequently better. [5]

Lack Of Heart

Lack Of Heart, who in part organized the festival, were responsible for the largest jaw drop at least for myself and KS who accompanied me to the festival. Never before have I seen a Danish band be able to sound so non-Danish, so fucking amazing, and so intense in a live environment. Part punk rock part technical hardcore, their set was clearly inspired by bands like Converge, Fear Before The March Of Flames and the like, leaving me wondering why on earth I haven't heard about this band yet? Even with just a drummer, guitarist, and a vocalist, the trio's stage performance was dominating to the point where all you wanted to do was to start a massive circle pit all by yourself during the fast punk bits, and a lethal mosh pit during the perfectly placed breakdowns. So here I am, standing in sheer surprise over how an unsigned band from Denmark can sound this inspiring, original and fantastic even on the first listen in a live environment.

The only drawback, and I don't even think I can call it a drawback more than a way to improve their next live rating up to the 9s/10s, was the lack of a bassist. I had actually planned to email the band to add a bassist and perhaps even a second guitarist to their lineup after the show, because I really want this band to happen based on their performance, but a quick look on their Myspace page shows they are already looking for them. Take my words on this one, Lack Of Heart is the most promising Danish band around right now, and when they eventually find a bassist and perhaps a second guitarist to their lineup, we might just have the best band in Denmark - if not more. This is probably how Converge sounded like on their early demos, guys. Check them out now. [8½]

Escaping Autumn

Next up was another promising, up and coming act, though this time one that has got everything figured out by the sounds of it. Launching straight into their set, the emo/screamo five-piece was among the most energetic bands tonight, with guitarists throwing their instruments around and the vocalist jumping all over the place, fitting perfectly into their melodically strong, vocally versatile set. Singer/Screamer Sigurd sounds almost exactly like the Glassjaw vocalist Daryl Palumbo starting from his explosive clean vocals and his up-and-down tone variations mid-line. Had I not known better, I would've thought Palumbo himself had returned from his adventures in Head Automatica and other bands just to front Escaping Autumn tonight, at least if you disregard the thick screaming found during the breakdowns. We all know how technically challanging Palumbo's vocal performance is, so all credit to Sigurd even if originality was lacking slightly from their set tonight. [7½]


The only foreign band on the bill tonight was Greyline, who play the sort of metal filled with huge build ups to massive breakdowns, which draw as much from Motörhead as they do from Poison The Well's earlier material. Blending together melody and scathing guitars, Greyline sounds good on record, nothing particularly original but still not too bad. Tonight, however, the majority of their set bored the hell out of me, mostly because it simply didn't fit in with what the rest of the band's were playing. During their faster songs the band was rocking it out (especially the guy in the wheelchair, props!), and this is when they shined, but these moments were rare. For the most part their songs were slow, and although the build ups could've sounded incredible on another type of night, tonight they just put most people to sleep after the melodic show of Escaping Autumn just before, which is a shame because on Myspace the band sounds really good. [3].


Southern metal in the vein of Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster by a Danish band? I think it's fair to say that's not exactly what you'd expect, and perhaps therefore the band had been hyped up quite a bit with some people that KS knew before their show. But hey, all power to them, because any change from the industrialized metal that most Danish bands play is positive. With two vocalists on stage, one growling/screaming and one on clean vocals, the band had lots of contrast in their sound, making the set far more interesting to watch. Like Puto Diablo, another Danish band using two vocalists, the two vocalist alternated in front of the stage, with one on background catching his breath while the other one stormed towards the crowd. The raw energy and power of Dødning's performance was in stark contrast to Greyline, which was a much needed wake-up for much of the audience, who were perhaps at their most active yet during the set. [6½]

The Psyke Project

And then there was, of course, tonight's headliners The Psyke Project, the band that in my opinion (as well as most others in our staff) deserves to have the best live band in Denmark title by leaps and bounds. No matter how few people there are at a show, The Psyke Project deliver a menacing, all-encompassing live set that leaves no one standing cold. Given that the band itself is from Helsinge and has (probably) attended the high school adjacent to tonight's venue, 95% of tonight's attendance are fans of the band from before, which can be seen in the crowd reaction immediately as The Psyke Project jumps on stage. Pretty much everyone rushes to the front as the band launches into their first song, and the rest of the set is pretty much a blur to me. Frontman Martin uses every inch of the stage to his advantage, storming from left to right, front to back, screaming on the face of the audience and inviting others on stage to scream with him on the back up microphone, while the remainder of the band throws their instruments around with little regard to the safety of each other or the surroundings. "I Get Paralyzed" sounds massive and "Dedication" equally so, both initiating lethal mosh pits across the floor. This is the performance of a band that plays in front of thousands, even though there are barely a hundred people in attendance tonight. That, my friends, is something valuable to a fan, and the only reason The Psyke Project isn't scoring as high as they usually do in our reviews is because there are simply far too few people here tonight to get the intimate 'everyone stop pushing' feeling going in the crowd. Shame, because The Psyke Project deserves an audience of several hundred no matter where they play. [8]

Overall, the second edition of Scream Festival was a good experience. The perfect way to run a festival like this one is exactly the way it happened - a bunch of up and coming bands that get you excited, followed by a headliner who is big enough to go international already. There weren't any major sound problems except for the metallic echo for some of the more brutal bands, but they weren't anything you didn't get used to by the second song of a set. A couple of people couldn't buy beer because they didn't have any cash on them and the nearest Cash machine was pretty far away, so the addition of the ability to pay with Dankort could be welcomed next year. Otherwise, only thumbs up from

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