Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 13/3
Prime Is ComingPrevious Next
support Cold Night for Alligators + møl + Unseen Faith + Sons of Death Valley + Siamese + Ghost Iris + Defecto + EVRA + CABAL + Wolf Pack
author HES date 14/01/17 venue Huset i Magstræde, Copenhagen, DEN
"Prime Is Coming" is a new concept by the ever-present Prime Collective. Slowly winning over even the most doubting scene indulged metalhead, Prime’s roster of rock and metal bands are starting to show results as primus motor Mirza Radonjica-Bang celebrates with a 3 day tour around the Danish country with his new festival-like concept "Prime Is Coming". The festival showcases all Prime Collective bands – for tonight comprising to a number of 9 in all – all allotted a 20 minute set and an audience that is expected to shuffle between bands on the upper stages of local venue Huset i Magstræde in Copenhagen. Tonight is the homecoming night of the sold-out tour and judging by social media posts the bands are by now pretty worn. However, as they brave their injured bodies towards just one more set, the crowd settles in to Musikcaféens intimate setting, beer in hand and ready to be overwhelmed.
The story of Cold Night For Alligators doesn’t start at Prime Collective but years before that. Already in high school, school mates Kristoffer Winther Jessen and Roar Jakobsen joined a band, would later change names and band members. However, Jessen and Jakobsen continue to shape the core of the band as their intricately choreographed guitar motifs form the basis of a soundscape that is equally metal and jazz. Now the genre "Djent" is discussed vividly elsewhere, so I won’t go into too much detail, but the technicality of the band’s 2016 release "Course of Events" can fairly be called "progressive". The detailing however is also the band’s biggest struggle tonight as the influx of new members has prohibited the kind of perfection you were to see on "Course of Events". However a bit in-delicate, newly added drummer Nikolaj Lauszus deliver a solid rhythmic backdrop in combination with bassist Christian Minch’s energetic tones. However, the absolute winning constellation is that of vocalist Johan Pedersen and the two dedicated founders: They may not hit every note just right tonight, but they make up for it in tenfold by presence and sheer joy. The whole of Musikcafeen is gathered in front of the stage in awe creating an intimate, yet energetic experience. Tonight is set off well.
The alligator welcome committee
So, tonight hasn’t started off traditionally and it doesn’t continue in obvious tracks. Next up is the Danish genre-blenders of Møl, taking on shoegaze and metal in the same compositions. Having changed vocalists since I saw them last, the band however seems very much the same. New vocalist Kim Song Sternkorpf however, already excels in my book by having more "core" in what this novice detects as black metal musings – and by "core" I mean vocal solidity. The remaining band members serve their usual atmospheric, dystopian backdrops as we’re assaulted by strobe lights. My problem with the band continues to be some kind of void of understanding in the concept as well as a little bit of lacking engagement by everyone but Sternkorpf, that just as his vocals, seem to be the only one really breaking out of the somber mood.
Unseen Faith is tonight’s first real casualty: A casualty of high expectations. As a writer for another rock magazine had been following the Prime Collective all the way to Aarhus the night before, he highly recommended the band – but alas the band does not really live up to said recommendation. Catering very little to overall atmosphere, Unseen Faith comes off very poorly contrasted in the back rows of Musikcaféens small room. Maybe it’s the up-and-down-stairs action of tonight already draining the beer-fueled crowd, maybe it’s a combination with the muddiness of the sound, but there seems to lack some kind of connection between the band and their audience tonight. Vocalist Alexander Eriksen does however do an almost-convincing job, keeping me just for one song more as I look dreamingly to the bar.
When I first heard of the concept of Sons of Death Valley I was pretty much sold: Country and hardcore punk? This is down my kind of alley! Vocalist Dan Christensen screams his lungs out atop a seldom rhythmic variation of hardcore, supported by his band of saloon-clad merry men. The crowd slowly warms up to the strained yelling vocals and convincing rolling guitar motifs. It’s a strange combination: Hearing something as anti-social, anarchistic and stand-off’ish as hardcore mixed with something as folksy, warmhearted and rhythmic as blues rock – but it works: Especially as the band has set up the tempo of the compositions so that the different moods come together in a frantic mix of pure revelry.
Sons of Death Valley
Now is it possible for Siamese to play a show that this magazine will not somewhat praise? No? In that case: Why? Well, the band is probably one of the most professionally run bands, including aforementioned Mirza Radonjica-Bang on distinct vocals. The band can probably by now base a one-hour show on muscle memory alone. However, it is apparent through the valiant effort to trace a bit of lethargy in a band that otherwise performs above and beyond. For tonight we only see above – not beyond. The band recently released the singles "Avaritia" and "Ablaze" as conceptual singles in a row of seven in all: One for each of the seven deadly sins. The album before that simply titled "Siamese" announced a shift in paradigms for the band: The mood of the songs changed from chaotic noise, to noisy but very melodic soul rock. To my surprise it is these newer songs that most people in the audience seem to respond to. A strange situation occurs where the band’s classic track "Liar Cried Wolf" gets less of a mosh pit than the newer "Ablaze". But it also says something else: Albeit Siamese did not deliver their finest show ever tonight, they’re still attracting an engaged audience and deliver far more than bands with less experience would have done in the same scenario.
The majestic Joakim Stilling of Siamese
Ghost Iris has one of those sounds it’s hard to pinpoint, but you’ve heard something like it before. The soundscape is not unlike Tesseract’s, dominated by the one of this scribe’s favorite features of progressive metal: The chainsaw guitar riff provided by Nicklas Grønlund Thomsen and gut-punching basslines by Dennis Nielsen. In honour of tonight’s gig Nielsen is sporting KoRn-style cornrow face curtains – Thomsen is sending goofy faces to the audience. Although we’re once again seeing a lull in energy in most of the crowd, a dedicated enclave tumbles around the middle of the crowd. The physical exercise of a whole night of stair climbing, beer drinking and moshercise is starting to claim its first victims to the comfortable seats in the back of the venue.
Ghost Iris entertaining in spite of their sleepy crowd
It’s hard to hold anything against a man, vocalist of Defecto Nicklas Sonne, that broke his leg during a gig in Aarhus, kept playing and is now playing in a cast, in a chair tonight – just around 24 hours later. But given the extremely high level of tonight’s roster, it’s hard for me to feel as excited about Defecto as I have been about the other acts. Generally the band draws upon some of the bands that someone’s uncle always mentions as you reveal to them that you review rock music: Dream Theater, Iron Maiden or Crazy Train-era Ozzy. The flamboyant vocalizing, the just-catchy-enough guitar riffs and those gothic, now electronic sounding touches. I can’t. It provokes nothing in me except maybe instant cringe. I think the impression would have been better with Sonne up and walking, but the low stage and clashes in life worlds result in me once again, like light to flies, finding my way back to a bar.
Nicklas Sonne of Defecto
If anything’s going to pick up the tempo tonight, it has to be EVRA’s show. The band turned the scene on its head as they released the 29 minutes long "Lightbearer" in 2015 – pretty much universally appraised. However, the band announced on the 11th of January just this year that they’d disbanded as they simply couldn’t write a sophomore album on the same level of "Lightbearer". Whatever you think of that announcement, this, the band’s very last show, proves just how impactful the combination of hardcore and stoner rock of "Lightbearer" remains to this day. Especially the playful back and forward between guitar and basslines. For one last time Frederik Emborg Pedersen shows us how to yell like you mean it. As a majestic goodbye, the band invites Camilla Hinze from Taras and Mirza Radonjica-Bang of Siamese to join in on the chorus of "Lightbearer". It’s sad to see EVRA end.
The rest of the night was dominated by two events – both out of my control. The mindblowingly downtuned and impressive CABAL managed to get one song into their set before a guy in the pit is knocked out cold. He is carried to a couch and as some stranger hands me a phone he plausibly lost, I follow him to a corner where he wakes up. Now this is not my first time at the venue and I know that the man in the door, Jakob, is just the guy to get a hold of in a situation like this. Downfall is, someone needs to stay with the money in the door while Jakob helps. Guess who missed most of CABAL? I did.
Only idiots miss a CABAL show
The victim of one of the best deathcore bands in Denmark leaves the venue unscathed and with someone to wake him from his concussion every other hour (real friends don’t let homies go home alone with a concussion, just sayin’). I return to the venue just in time to catch the last "performers" of the night. Lucky me.
Now if you’re a follower of this magazine you’ll probably remember the "THE HELL Debacle of 2015" where I got called out by musical masterminds, the frontrunners, the pioneers of mock metal, THE HELL, for performing subpar. So I won’t repeat the disgrace by giving Wolf Pack their own and equally unfair assessment. No. I’ll just literally copypaste from that THE HELL review: "Almost everything about this shit is so depressing I want to go back to slitting my wrists and listen to Hawthorne Heights." If you think I should have spent anymore time writing about this train wreck, just go watch the video below: