Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 21/4
author AP date 24/03/17 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN
When ORM first emerged onto the scene in 2015, they did so veiled in secrecy and apart from one single, held their cards close to chest as they burrowed through the underground, writing their first full-length and playing the odd show here and there. This past Friday, the effort was finally ripe for unleashing upon the masses, and its release needed of course to be celebrated with a concert — one which plenty of people, including yours truly, had eagerly been looking forward to. And for the task of warming up the good turnout, the enigmatic black metallers had chosen a rather unusual ensemble.
Gny’s ethos is to breathe new life into old Nordic folk music, which entails that the band shuns any electric instruments in favour of violin, rebec, flute, bagpipe, lute, bodhrán and davul. This assortment of traditional instruments is wielded by four musicians, three of whom also play in the Danish folk metal group Huldre (vocalist/percussionist Nanna Barslev, violinist/rebec player Laura Emilie Beck & lutist Lasse Olufson) — all clad in medieval garb to complement the style of Gny’s music and put the final touch on the atmosphere of yonder years that the band hopes to develop. At the forefront of this is Barslev’s grandiose, melancholy singing, laden with round r’s and harsh consonants, and the little stories that she tells to introduce each song. The audience does its part, too; while most of us are content to just watch inquisitively, a handful of patrons upfront add some oomph to the rhythm by booting the floor like at some feudal village fest years long past.
All of this would be quite mesmerising, were it not for the swathes of people loudly conversing throughout Gny’s set, visibly disheartening Barslev and her striving to provide us with an unusual and genuine experience. I must confess that Gny’s music falls outside of my taste-span (and indeed the usual scope of this webzine), but it is nonetheless interesting to hear the roots of black, folk and pagan metal explored like this, without the spoils of modernity. At the very least, Gny’s concert sets the atmosphere for the evening, taking us back to one of the key building blocks of (Nordic) black metal.
Somehow, it had escaped me that ORM is, in fact, the former death metal act By the Patient turned atmospheric black metal — a realisation which hits me as soon as the four musicians take their positions on stage. Vocals are shared by the two guitarists, Simon Sonne Andersen & Theis Wilmer Poulsen, creating the layered effect of shrieks and growls that is so prominent on ORM’s newly released début album, “Orm”; while Troels Cort Nielsen supplies a mass of rumble with his bass guitar behind a row of black candles and Adam Schønemann rolls out a deluge of blastbeats and double-pedal pummel to drive the quartet’s musical concoctions forth. Given the members’ heritage, one could be forgiven for assuming that ORM’s music would thus be the same ol’ beast in brand new silks, but while certain nuances in it are traceable to the ‘Patient, there is a reason for the name change and the enigmatic way in which the band announced itself to the scene.
The final stretch of By the Patient’s existence saw the band blackening its sound to a degree that rendered them unrecognisable as the creators of 2010’s “Catenation of Adversity” EP and in ORM, the transformation is brought to its logical conclusion. The band plays black metal of the atmospheric variant, borrowing from the spiritual, U.S. branch but without forgetting their Nordic heritage. Interpret that as sweeping, yet wistful melodies en masse and the occasional lapse into shoegazing (though, importantly, the music is more black as opposed to anything ’post-‘) played atop a thundering rhythmic foundation, by musicians that have little interest in reaching across the division between stage and audience. This is not to ORM’s detriment, however — the performance is intense and entrancing, each musician lost in the moment and egged on by the purgative power of songs like “Ancient Echoes” or “Apotheosis”, whilst moody lighting and plenty of dry ice smoke ensure that the atmosphere remains mysterious throughout. And the band’s detachment from interacting with the audience only heightens that feeling.
But with so much build-up and hype surrounding this concert, one might have expected ORM’s performance to be more transcendent somehow. The group is frighteningly tight live and boasts the compositional awareness needed to break through beyond the borders of Denmark, yet during the 45 minutes allocated to them tonight, the proceedings never close in on the otherworldly. On the other hand, the earthly nature of ORM’s demeanour also speaks in their favour; there is zero bulls**t on the record, so in a way it makes sense to stage a no-nonsense performance to highlight the fact. As such, while ORM may not be the wildest or most immersive of contemporary Danish metal acts, they do have a tremendous advantage in being such skilled songsmiths and experienced performers as to fix all eyes and ears on them nonetheless. One thus leaves the concert far from disappointed, yet thirsting for that something extra that such transcendental music aches for.
- 01. Blood of Your Blood
- 02. Ancient Echoes
- 03. Temple of the Deaf
- 04. Apotheosis
- 05. A Tree Ablaze / Yggdrasil brænder