Phoebus Cartel

support Exelerate + Puppet Arms
author LF date 11/04/15 venue Lygten, Copenhagen, DEN

Since I first encountered Phoebus Cartel about a year ago, they have been one of my favorite Danish bands. Their heavy, progressive rock is very well executed and they dare be more intense than many other smaller acts I have experienced which is refreshing. I was thus of course delighted to hear that they would come to the other side of the country and play a show for us in Copenhagen this very evening and I've had the date marked in my calendar for weeks. With punk rock band Losing Must originally on the bill in addition to Puppet Arms and power/thrash band Exelerate, it shaped up to be a fairly diverse evening. When Losing Must canceled their appearance, however, Exelerate quickly seemed like the odd one out as the music of Puppet Arms and Phoebus Cartel is indeed very much alike stylistically, but more on that later.

Thanks to Jeanette Llanos and Kristel Ojasalu for the pictures in this review

Picture by Jeanette Llanos

Puppet Arms

Maybe I'm just in a better mood today or maybe Lygten's room is just better suited to the band than KB18 was when I saw them there for the first time a couple of months ago. What is for certain is that they sound way better tonight, in fact they end up being the best-sounding of all three bands on the bill. Their music sounds monumental but it also has some intricate moments and these different nuances sound crisp and on point, every guitar melody shining through clearly in their heavy prog rock. Out of the four band members, three of them provide vocals through the set while they also play some all-instrumental songs in between for a good and varied mix. The spacious room at Lygten gives their music lots of space to unfurl in which suits its monumental side very well and somehow the band also comes across very confident here as their music booms through the speakers to great applause from an engaged audience.

7

Picture by Kristel Ojasalu

Exelerate

As Exelerate take the stage, the crowd is somewhat diminished. As mentioned, Exelerate seems like the odd one out compared to the relatively similar, Tool-inspired progressive rock music of the two other bands tonight and since their genre is power/thrash metal it is safe to say that I am also well out of my comfort zone reviewing them. Nevertheless, I'm confident in saying that they seem like a band who's satisfied with playing their music without inventing too much on their own. They rock the stage with fast-paced guitar solos and piercing, high-pitched vocals just as it should be and they even play a cover of Slayer's "Angel of Death" with a refreshing youthful energy. Overall though, they seem more fresh out of the rehearsal room than the two other bands tonight in their way of performing and while their energy and playful attitude on stage are both good, it doesn't quite measure up with the skill-level of the bands that surround them tonight.

5

Picture by Jeanette Llanos

Phoebus Cartel

Compared to the two bands that come before them tonight, what is most striking about Phoebus Cartel is how serious they are as they stand on stage and look like they're getting mentally ready for the coming release of musical energy while a pre-recorded speech plays. As they let rip with the first thundering riffs that mark them as the heaviest band of the evening, their front man especially is a sight to see as he picks up the energy provided by their music and commences to throw himself around the stage with the veins bulging out on his head and a tormented look on his face. The other members of the band are mostly stationary as is often the case with bands that play complex music. Unfortunately, the sound mix is not entirely ideal for the band tonight and while it's a cool thing for a vocalist to actually have an effect board in front of him to provide reverb and other effects in the right places, the lyrics are at times very hard to hear clearly and this is a shame as the haunted lyrics are instrumental in understanding the band's message and serious attitude. That being said, there are still plenty of details in their music to enjoy even as the sound is slightly muddy. One of these is the powerful notes provided by the bassist on his seven-string that he also taps a melody or two on through the set. Their vocalist keeps his energy going to the very last second of their set where he finishes by acrobatically climbing one block of speakers to the side of the stage and singing his last lines from up high. All in all, another one in a line of cool shows by Phoebus Cartel that I hope to catch more of soon.

7

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