Ghost

support Kvelertak + The Great Discord
author MIN date 26/04/17 venue Valby Hallen, Copenhagen, DEN

I guess the question on many people’s mind before coming out tonight has been about what’s going on over at camp Ghost — who’ll be playing the part of the Nameless Ghouls and will it have an impact on the show at all? As most of you probably know, a lawsuit has been going on between frontman Papa Emeritus and several former members of the band, so I won’t bother you with details. The only thing on my mind is whether any of it will have an impact on the show. Thankfully, as my review will bear evidence of, whoever has put on the robes and masks of the Nameless Ghouls, deliver what’s to be expected. But more on that after taking in the two support bands.

All photos courtesy of Stefan Frank Thor Straten

The Great Discord

Tonight’s first band is the progressive metal outfit The Great Discord from Linköping, Sweden. When first vocalist Fia Kempe enters the dark stage (except for those few minutes for which Valby Hallen suddenly turns on all of the lights during the set), I almost mistake Kvelertak’s Erlend Hjelvik for walking in too early, since Kempe’s apparently wearing a huge head garment in the shape of two wings — amidst the smoke that’s filled the room, it’s easily mistaken for Hjelvik’s customary stuffed owl. However, as soon as the band’s music starts playing, it’s pretty obvious that we’re not dealing with Kvelertak just yet. And here I say, the band’s music starts playing, because it all too soon becomes obvious that we’re dealing with a huge amount of playback in this set.

One thing is having the vocalist use playback for the parts she’s not able to do herself; another is having a backtrack of drums helping you along while you sit up there and pretend to do it all on your own. By the start of the second or third song, the playback kicks in and sets off the drums before the drummer even gets a chance to pound on the skins, exposing the embarrassing act in full glory. I’m well aware that adding playback can create that extra layer and oomph that you want your music to have live, but it’s just my honest opinion that if you can’t do it live with the musicians you’ve got, then don’t do it. Besides that, the band is actually playing their songs with a convincing amount energy. There’s a lot of movement going on and they deliver their arrhythmic take on modern metal with much enthusiasm. I’ll grant them three points for being energetic, for getting people riled up and for the music that they actually did play.

3

Kvelertak

Kvelertak have, for quite a while, been one of my favorite live bands but they haven’t really had old Lady Luck on their side the last few times they’ve visited our beloved country. At Roskilde Festival last summer, they suffered some serious sound issues and at Copenhagen venue Amager Bio last autumn, the attendance was rather weak. Tonight’s sound in Valby Hallen doesn’t do them any favors either, but at least the band still manages to convince most people here with some brilliantly crafted music, raw energy and Erlend Hjelvik’s voice truly shining.

Sad but true: Kvelertak’s show is once again hindered by sound issues. All you can hear during the first few songs is one of the rhythm guitars (second out of the three guitars, if I’m not mistaken) and Kjetil Gjermundrød’s furious d-beats that resound in ”Nattesferd”’s album-opener “Dendrofil for Yggdrasil”. Fortunately, the sound guy luckily notices the issues and things do get better after a little while. From here on out, it’s all fun and games; once we reach “Evig Vandrar” off the band’s second LP ”Meir”, the whole room is one big wave, followed by “Ondskapens Galakse”, which engulfs the crowd with its clash between delicate guitar-picking and huge, atmospheric riffs, while Hjelvik’s fantastic roar tears scalps off. By the end of the set, we don’t get any “Utrydd Dei Svake” or customary crowd-surfing from the band, but we do get a devastating rendition of the eponymous “Kvelertak”, which cements the band’s abilities as an amazing live act. Sound issues or not, Hjelvik runs around with the band’s signature flag and the axe-men around him are flailing what they’ve got, giving it their all. A damn solid set from an energetic, outstanding and unique act.

7

Ghost

I rarely listen to Ghost’s records but they’re a hell of a good time live, so I’m curious enough to keep seeing them time after time, as they usually put on a great show. They’re a band who’ve gotten a lot better since the first time I saw them in 2011 and my fifth show with the Swedish outfit doesn’t let me down. Once the stage crew has “unveiled” the drums and keys, Ghost take the stage and blare out their latest EP’s lead single, “Square Hammer”, kicking off the show with a huge sing-along: ”Are you on the square? // Are you on the level? // Are you ready to swear right here, right now // Before the devil?”.

Although things are off to a good start, it feels like the pressure of Valby Hallen’s bad sound comes crashing down during tracks like “Secular Haze” and “Con Clavi Con Dio”, where bass and drums mix together into a puddle of unidentifiable noise. Luckily, the newly added Nameless Ghouls keep the show going, as they’re good at running around and getting on top of podiums while showing off their skills. I’m honestly not familiar enough with the band’s overall discography to tell whether they get everything right or not, but I do know that their showmanship has increased; they’re much more engaged in the whole thing than previously and at this point, I’m more than satisfied with their performance.

Halfway through the set, it feels like most problems disappear, as everything sounds better, and when the short “Devil’s Church” (played live this time around) leads us into the excellent, slow, old-school piece “Cirice” (try not to think of Slayer’s “South of Heaven” when you hear it), the band performs a sure-shot tour-de-force of excellent material. Papa Emeritus has thrown his robes and miter, and the guitarists are prancing around each other like reindeers getting ready to rumble. The red and orange lights during “Year Zero” bathe the stage in hellfire just before the actual flames behind the band erupt and people are eating it raw. Ghost knows how to put a setlist and a show together, constantly building up and reaching several climaxes, and the payoff is incredible. Once my personal favorite, “He Is”, ends and leads into “Absolution” before forwardly flailing into the rocking “Mummy Dust” (getting that extra kick I think it lacks on the record), I’m completely sold by Ghost’s performance once again.

The good times keep on rolling as “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen” and the unbelievably catchy “Ritual” come next. And in best Ghost-manner, we obviously get a long, weird speech from Papa Emeritus about life, intercourse and live shows — you know, all the important things, right? But this is a Ghost show; you know this is going to happen and it feels like most people (including myself) are enjoying it. The set ends with “Monstrance Clock” which, again underlining the importance of a good chorus, sees the whole hall join the sing-song. Ultimately, Ghost put on another excellent show, which only suffers from minor issues. I personally don’t understand the whole “Sisters of Sin”-act (bringing two local girls dressed as nuns to the stage) in the midst of the show, but Emeritus & co. were a damn good time nonetheless. I’ll be looking forward to seeing them again the next time they come around.

8

Setlist:

  • 01. Square Hammer
  • 02. From the Pinnacle to the Pit
  • 03. Secular Haze
  • 04. Con Clavi Con Dio
  • 05. Per Aspera ad Inferi
  • 06. Body and Blood
  • 07. Devil Church
  • 08. Cirice
  • 09. Year Zero
  • 10. He Is
  • 11. Absolution
  • 12. Mummy Dust
  • 13. Ghuleh/Zombie Queen
  • 14. Ritual

— Encore —

  • 15. Monstrance Clock

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