Cancer Bats

support Underside + Nyt Liv
author AP date 22/03/19 venue Hotel Cecil, Copenhagen, DEN

Three years had elapsed since Cancer Bats last visited Denmark but judging by the venue upgrade compared to 2016, the band’s popularity has not waned during the break. Indeed, the show — which is taking place in the elegant confines of Hotel Cecil — is completely sold out, bristling with people in a festive Friday mood, many of whom are no doubt looking forward to hearing material off 2018’s “The Spark That Moves” played for the first time on Danish soil. I certainly am, having found that record to be the Canadian quartet’s best work in over a decade. But before wearing my voice thin and giving my neck muscles a rude awakening, there are two support acts to check out, one of which is from somewhere as exotic as Kathmandu in Nepal! First though, there is the chance for a local band to make their mark on us.

All photos courtesy of Stefan Frank thor Straten

Nyt Liv

Last week, this Copenhagen-based four-piece aroused my curiosity with an unexpectedly melodic and intense new single in “Blodet skygger”. I say unexpected, because the band’s performance at the 2018 edition of Copenhell left a rather different impression on me, and I had all but dismissed them as just another crust punk outfit destined to remain in the murkiest corners of the hardcore scene. And having announced their début album, “Ensomhedens kolde kald”, in conjunction with the release of that song, there is of course plenty of new material on the menu here. But alas, there is no cooperation from the sound technician to bring those songs to full bloom, with Søren Hvidt’s bass guitar taking up a disproportionate amount of space in the soundscape — so much that even the drumming of Simon Erlendsson has trouble breaking through. This is truly a shame, as there is no shortage of energy being expended by any of the four musicians. Vocalist Michael Aagesen is particularly active, and comes across as someone who is seeking to follow in the footsteps of some of the most iconic hardcore punk vocalists, pacing back and forth and towering over the audience with real menace. All that’s missing really is for him to dive into the crowd and get a pit going — but then again, none of the attendees seem willing to do that so early into the proceedings. Hvidt and guitarist Martin Goltermann remain in the periphery but headbang with great severity, and behind them Erlendsson is sparing no sweat in trying to cut through the muddled rumble with his grooves and d-beats. I am thus left feeling that Nyt Liv could actually put on a hell of a show if put into a more intimate venue and given the mix they deserve… but as far as their efforts tonight go, I would be lying if I claimed not to be a little disappointed.



Although the traditional Nepalese music and the person dressed as what I imagine to be a demon of Nepalese mythology that precede Underside’s arrival on the stage would suggest otherwise, this band is actually very American as far as their style goes. The four musicians wear their influences on their sleeve as they unleash a maelstrom of punishing groove metal in the vein of Lamb of God and Slipknot unto us, but while their music itself is not exactly groundbreaking, their demeanour on stage is a refreshing mix of fervid and impetuous. Underside have the aura of a band prepared to give everything every time, and their infectious energy on stage soon inspires many an attendee to bring the mosh— helped along by what looks like a local fanclub! Witnessing the kind of grip that this Kathmandu-based outfit have on their audience as the likes of “Sky Burial” and the circlepit-fuelling “Wild” roar from the speakers inevitably brings a smile to one’s face, and there are plenty of groovy, bending djent riffs and well-timed breakdowns in them to assure us that Underside know how to pen a sick tune. Combine that with a vocalist in Avishek K.C. who shows all the ferocity of a Gurkha warrior and two guitarists — Bikash Bhujel & Bikrant Shrestha — who wield their instruments like battle axes, and you have the recipe for a spellbinding performance. So once “Animals” brings the concert to an end and the moshpit finally settles down, I am sure I am not the only one thinking that Underside needs to return for a headlining concert as soon as possible. They’ll have earned lots of new disciples tonight, who must already be hungering for another fix of this madness.


Cancer Bats

Cancer Bats enter the stage rather less ceremoniously than Underside before them, but as soon as “Sleep This Away” (off 2010’s “Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones”) erupts from the speakers, it becomes obvious that the Canadian outfit is in a mood for destruction. Clearly energised by the support acts, the audience is with the band from the first note, though ironically the first thing vocalist Liam Cormier tells us — just before “Bricks & Mortar” (taken from 2012’s “Dead Set on Living” is aired — is that the madness on the floor has merely been “dece’” and that he expects Copenhagen to do a lot better for the remaining 15 songs. Cormier, guitarist Josh Middleton and bassist Jaye R. Schwarzer then show the way by putting on the wildest display I’ve seen from the ‘Bats yet, raging, jumping, spinning and stomping their way through the concert, only stopping a couple of times to catch their breath and douse us with their dry humour. Drummer Mike Peters was unable to join this tour due to his wife’s giving birth to their second child recently, but his replacement (a gentleman from Belgium) has no trouble filling Peters’ shoes. And allegedly, his one precondition for accepting the job was getting to pick the setlist, which means that it is not only long by Cancer Bats’ usual standards, but also features a number of rarer picks such as “Butterscotch” (off the band’s 2006 début, “Birthing the Giant”) that are particularly well received by the crowd.

Still, it is the usual suspects such as “Hail Destroyer”, “Pray for Darkness” and “Lucifer’s Rocking Chair” — not to mention the iconic cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” — that inspire the most riotous reactions, transforming this speakeasy-style establishment into mayhem and leaving the bar staff wide-eyed with bedazzlement. I can understand them. If somebody wandered into the venue, which doubles as a pretty classy cocktail bar, and accidentally went looking for the rest rooms in the wrong place (i.e. downstairs), they’d probably think they’d gotten the wrong address and ended up at what looks very much like a lawless basement punk show. And that is the primary allure of watching this band live — regardless of where they play, it always feels intimate and wild. Once “Gatekeeper” off the latest LP brings the maelstrom to a halt, it is thus difficult to imagine someone leaving the concert with a sour taste in their mouth. Certainly, it is the craziest and funnest Cancer Bats gig I’ve had the pleasure of attending, which is a lot to suggest, given that the Canucks tend to wreak havoc whenever and wherever they play live.



  • 01. Sleep This Away
  • 02. Pneumonia Hawk
  • 03. Old Blood
  • 04. Winterpeg
  • 05. Bricks & Mortar
  • 06. Trust No One
  • 07. Arsenic in the Year of the Snake
  • 08. Brightest Day
  • 09. Butterscotch
  • 10. Hail Destroyer
  • 11. True Zero
  • 12. R.A.T.S.
  • 13. Inside Out
  • 14. Pray for Darkness
  • 15. Space and Time
  • 16. Sabotage (Beastie Boys cover)
  • 17. Lucifer’s Rocking Chair
  • 18. Road Sick
  • 19. Gatekeeper

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