Bersærk

support Dirt Forge
author PP date 05/04/19 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

My friends and I arrived just in time to get a beer and a good spot. Judging by the t-shirts fans of both bands were heavily represented and there seemed to be a lot of action at the merch booth. Catching snippets of conversations at the bar, it was evident that lots of people had seen at least of the bands before and people seemed almost giddy with anticipation.

Dirt Forge

The first band of the evening on this double-headliner kicks off with Dirt Forge; a band that quickly has gained a reputation as an amazing live band and cemented that notion with their powerful performance at last year’s Roskilde Festival. They were the first band to play at Roskilde as a part of the festivals warm-up days and played Sunday in the blistering mid-afternoon heat and turned it into an iconic Roskilde performance.

This time at Pumpehuset, the trio with Alexander Kolby as the ever-present frontman played to a sold-out venue, however, not everybody had shown up yet as it got decidedly more crowded as the night wore on.

They start off strong with one of their most popular songs, the extremely catchy "Stone". From here on out it was full throttle and no looking back. We got five songs from their album "Soothsayer" and two new tracks. The material from "Soothsayer" is an eclectic mix of sludge, doom, straight-up heavy metal, post-metal, and some groovy good-old fashioned rock. On paper, it shouldn’t work, but Dirt Forge makes it work.

Kolby is mostly screaming or yelling his way through the songs with bass player Yannick Kristensen occasionally providing backing vocals. The band should utilize his singing talents more as his voice is vastly different from Kolby’s, which creates some great harmonies. Kolby has so much presence on stage that you cannot help but be entranced by his performance.

The show ends with "Soothsayer II: Die Waiting" and "Soothsayer III: For Our End", two very catchy songs that also close the album. Sadly though, the concert was way too short, and they didn’t play anywhere near loud enough in the cave-like venue that is Pumpehuset. But despite the lack of volume (many "this goes to 11" jokes went through my head at times), we were still witnessing to one of the strongest live bands on the Danish heavy metal scene at the moment.

8

Bersærk

My first live encounter with Bersærk was at last year’s Aalborg Metal Festival. I readily admit I was blown away by their sheer energy and lead singer Casper Popp’s voice and command of the Danish language. And over the last couple of years, much has been said about that voice. I was very much looking forward to seeing them live again because I have since had an odd relationship with Bersærk. When thinking about the band, Popp’s vocals seem a bit much and there is, in my book, a little too much emphasis on a sort of Viking romanticism. But all I have to do is put on one of their two full-length albums and all that changes in my head. When listening to Bersærk, I am sucked into their world and completely accept the premise and try to emulate Popp’s voice while bellowing (I have a terrible singing voice) along to "Dæmring" or "Fimbuls Børn", two songs that both have all the potential in the world to become classic rock songs.

The sold-out show left little room at the front but we managed to get very close to the stages minutes before Bersærk walked on stage. With almost no pre-amble, they kick off with "De Glemte" ("The Forgotten Ones"), a song that starts off slowly but quickly turns into a showcase for Popp’s vocal prowess and showmanship. Strangely enough, there is little reaction from the audience near the front but that quickly changes when "Kampånd" ("Fighting Spirit") from their 2018 album "Jernbyrd" kicks off. It is awe-inspiring to experience a mosh-pit in which people are singing along like there is no tomorrow while jumping around and crashing into each other.

They seamlessly rock their way into "Nordenvind" ("Northern Wind") from their 2015 debut, which is where the party really starts, and continues for another fifteen songs, with only a slight dip in intensity from the audience at the mid-way point. But due to the strong material and a solid stage presence, they finish off strong. Even a cover of the classic Gasolin anthem "Langebro" has the entire audience doing sing-along and seldom has a singer been better suited to cover that particular Gasolin song than Popp. And with last of the encores, "Dæmring", it seems like everybody, including me and my friends, walks away blown away and with smiles on our faces that will last the weekend.

8

Guest review by Thomas Kallehave

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