support Livløs + Billy Boy In Poison
author AP date 16/02/18 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

As one of the first Danish metal bands to be introduced to me, Hatesphere will always have a special place in my heart — even if the only remaining original member, guitarist Peter Lyse Karmark, should leave. On the domestic front, the Århusian band has been relatively quiet of late, but this was only one of the reasons why tonight’s festivities had the potential to be historic; in addition, Hatesphere had promised in advance to play the longest set of their career, including a selection of rarities, covers and even some new material — and all this at a venue which offers some of the least separation between band and audience in Copenhagen. In other words, the concert was unmissable for yours truly, and for the first time in long while, I joined the frontmost rank of the crowd in order to experience the full ferocity of what was about to unfold.

All photos courtesy of Jimmi Brandt Pedersen

Billy Boy In Poison

In charge of opening the proceedings is another artist whose progress I have followed more or less since the beginning: the Copenhagen-based Billy Boy in Poison. Having released their sophomore album, the critically lauded “Invoker”, last year, it is no surprise to find their short setlist dominated by new material. But although this is of course a matter of personal preference, I am somewhat disappointed by the choice of tracks for the first half of the performance; the not-so-impactful “Black Gold” and “Glaciers” in particular leave me wanting, as they occupy spots that could otherwise have been filled by the ultra-catchy “Absolution” and the ambitious progressive piece “Exodus”. Most of the crowd seems a little timid during these picks, but when the likes of “Mara”, in which drummer Niclas Mortensen inspires awe with some excellent fills, and the Gojira-esque “Divided State of Mind” are given an airing, that changes entirely. Fueled by both the liberating beers of a Friday night and the energy expended by the five musicians (bassist Troels Lehmann especially has been more enthusiastic than I’ve ever seen him before from the first note), the audience engages in all of the usual shenanigans from headbanging to moshing in yet another display of the huge support that this band commands in its home country.

Taken aback by this support, Billy Boy’ extemporarily throws in “Corrupted into Slaves” — one of the standout tracks from their début album — as a ‘second’ finale after the Black Dahlia Murder-esque “Iron Grip”, and at this point, it is hard to argue with the facts. Indeed, despite the mismatch between what songs I had hoped to hear and what is actually played, it is difficult to identify other points of criticism in the imposing concert given by the band tonight. The delivery is tight, and the band is obviously having a blast, even if one might wish for the two guitarists, Mikkel Ellung Larsen and Alexander Mortensen, to up their ante to par with Lehmann and vocalist Hjalte Sejr Bertelsen. By virtue of their wildly confrontational demeanour, they too easily become the only focal points on stage while their colleagues reduce themselves to a kind of supporting cast, which is not an accurate reflection of their abilities nor importance to the band’s music. This is nevertheless a very minor grievance in an otherwise solid barrage of death metal to get the audience warmed up.



Despite the fact that their début album, “Into Beyond”, was released only two weeks ago, Livløs has been garnering a lot of praise lately. The primary reason, I think, is their potency as a live act, which is once again proven by a powerful showing tonight, one lead by the crazed antics of their frontman, Simon Olsen, whom some readers will recognise from the death metal band BAEST. Livløs subscribes to a different style, however: a fusion of death, groove and thrash metal that is so often the weapon of choice for Danish metal bands. But as evidenced by the likes of “Blood & Despair” and the titular track, the music is much more melodic than is usual among practitioners of the genre, which in turn gives rise to lasting value. Still, it would be absurd to claim that the majority of Livløs’ appeal did not stem from the intensity of their showmanship; their 35-minute performance is a veritable whirlwind of headbanging, windmilling and general insanity, offering neither mercy nor breathers for the unsuspecting audience. The minutes fly so rapidly, watching Livløs, that it actually feels perplexing when “Passenger” (off the band’s eponymous 2016 EP) is announced as the last song. And the fact that one is so taken aback by the ferocity of the show that it makes 35 minutes feel like 10 simply cannot be twisted into negative thing. Livløs may sound like a reincarnation of Lamb of God, and it is sometimes hard to tell one song apart from the next, but once the band has carved out its own niche in the future, with this kind of showmanship they could become unstoppable.



As the lights dim to announce the imminent arrival of Hatesphere, I don’t think that anybody at the venue is expecting the show to be a dud. But the intensity of the onslaught which begins with “Lies and Deceit” (off 2007’s “Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes”) nevertheless delivers a rude awakening. With a pumped up, intoxicated audience literally spilling onto the stage from the word ‘go’, it becomes obvious that if this level of energy can persist for the entire duration of the concert, it is likely to go down as one of the most legendary nights in the band’s 17-year career. It is a miracle that no one is hurt by the violence of the moshpit, which forms behind me during the pummelling “Murderous Intent”, or by the scores of crowd surfers who decide to try their luck in spite of the low ceiling. But no one, least of all any of the five musicians — vocalist Esben Kjær Hansen, guitarists Peter Lyse Karmark & Kasper Kirkegaard, bassist Jimmy Nedergaard and rummer Mike Park Nielsen — seems to be particularly worried. On the contrary, the impassioned reaction of the audience seems to encourage Hatesphere to push the throttle even more, which results in an absolutely phenomenal rendition of “Release the Pain” — the first of a litany of rare tracks that the band has dug up for the occasion, which appears on their 2003 EP, “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Black”.

As I’m watching the mix of maniacal, gleeful and taken aback expressions manifesting themselves on the faces of the five musicians as they shred, headbang and windmill their way through “Only the Strongest…” (taken from Hatesphere’s 2004 album, “Ballet of the Brute”), I cannot help but think this must be what it was like to watch Slayer at various dingy club venues in the early ‘80s — no frills, just pure, unadulterated thrash metal played pedal floored. After all, the foreboding drop-tuned riffs and grooves that form the basis of Hatesphere’s music do have their roots in the Bay Area legends’ repertoire, and if an instrument existed for measuring the intensity of a show, what the Århusian act musters up tonight would most likely be on par with the readings from a Slayer concert of (at least) present day. And to draw one more parallel to Slayer: Hatesphere, too, has an inexplicable penchant for almost completely shunning variety and still emerging victorious from a two-hour gig. Indeed, the only real semblances of variety arrive in the form of two covers: one of Danish hard rock group D-A-D’s “Ill Will” and another of Anthrax’s revered “Caught in a Mosh”, the title of which is a good summary for this concert, as it happens. The rest of the material is pretty uniform — but as it is famously said, why fix it if it ain’t broken?

There are many standout moments to choose from, but one that particularly stands out is the never-before-aired “Feeding the Demons” — a dark and melodic piece from the aforementioned “Serpent Smiles…” record, which the band dedicates to one of its long-standing fans in attendance tonight. Another comes with the rarely aired, brutal “Hate”; another with the staple closer, “Sickness Within” (the title track to their celebrated 2005 record), which is equipped with one of the best and most recognisable riffs ever to emerge from the Danish metal scene. Given that the latter marks almost two hours of non-stop, neck-breaking death/thrash metal battery, it is remarkable to observe that neither band nor audience has lost any of its vigour to exhaustion. From beginning to end, the symbiosis that exists between Hatesphere and their fans ensures that Loppen plays host to probably the most devastating metal concert I have seen there. So even though Hatesphere is fast closing on two decades as a band, has undergone more changes in its line-up than anyone can be bothered to count, and has changed its style very little across its nine studio albums, the band keeps finding new ways to remain vital. And based on the extremity of the show tonight, we should all cross our fingers that Hatesphere has many years in it yet.



  • 01. Lies and Deceit
  • 02. Murderous Intent
  • 03. Resurrect with a Vengeance
  • 04. Release the Pain
  • 05. Lines Crossed Lives Lost
  • 06. Hate
  • 07. Only the Strongest…
  • 08. Murderlust
  • 09. Kapitalismen (cover of a '60s Danish anthem of the left)
  • 10. The Beginning and the End
  • 11. Deathtrip
  • 12. Ill Will (D-A-D cover)
  • 13. Caught in a Mosh (Anthrax cover)
  • 14. Drinking with the King of the Dead
  • 15. Forever War
  • 16. Feeding the Demons
  • 17. The Coming of Chaos
  • 18. Iconoclast
  • 19. On the Shores of Hell
  • 20. New Hell
  • 21. Sickness Within

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