Entombed A.D.

support Aborted + BAEST
author AP date 01/11/19 venue Store VEGA, Copenhagen, DEN

It is Friday night, the annual festive release of Tuborg’s Christmas beer variant is only an hour away, and there is death metal on the menu at VEGA, so where else would yours truly be tonight, than at the iconic Copenhagen venue? The promoter’s gamble on booking this Danish-Belgian-Swedish trident for the main hall seems to have paid off as well; the venue is not sold out, but looking around me, it cannot be too far from its maximum capacity of 1.500 people, either. As the clock hits 8:59 p.m. and the dark and kind of sweet lager starts flowing from the taps at last, we are only a minute away from finding out if the opening act has what it takes to dominate an indoor venue of this magnitude…

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest


BAEST

BAEST have a mountain to climb tonight. It was unquestionably their popularity, not to mention the outrageously good show they played at Copenhell this past summer, that justified this tour to be booked for the main hall at VEGA. And as such, it is on their shoulders to prove that death metal belongs in these larger venues as well. The show also gets off to an excellent start with “Vitriol Lament” off the band’s sophomore album “Venenum”, with vocalist Simon Olsen once again adding substance to the claim that he is one of the finest frontmen in Danish metal. He leads the way for his four colleagues, darting from side to side, executing perilous jumps and screaming into the frontmost crowd members’ faces in a bid to reproduce the magic of that fabled festival show. And although the concert tonight never reaches the same level, the band still manages to bolster their already glowing reputation as entertainers. BAEST’s efforts bear fruit come the second song of the evening, “Sodomize”, which spawns a large mosh pit, and from then on there seems to be a mutual understanding between the band and the audience that this is going to be a show to remember, come hell or high water. Indeed, in its wake “Hecatomb” (off last year’s “Danse Macabre”) inspires a colossal wall of death without any encouragement from Olsen, and once this chaotic and diabolical track has ended, there is understandably a wide grin on each of the five musicians’ faces.

“We are going to show these big Belgian and Swedish bands how to toast, right?”, Olsen roars in an Århusian accent, and the response is deafening. But not as deafening as the following “Tula”, for which the band has sourced inspiration from doom metal to create a behemoth of a song, one that draws some of the most expressive antics yet from guitarists Lasse Mørch Revsbech and Svend Karlsson in particular. Far from your dime-a-dozen extreme metal musicians, the two have perfected the art of showmanship, presumably by taking notes from the classic glam metal acts of the ‘70s and ‘80s like their counterparts in Slægt. They neither look nor behave like stereotypical death metal musicians, showing a level of energy seldom witnessed in this genre…. which, in turn, injects even more adrenaline into the already raucous audience. But even though the band’s pomp on stage alone has the capacity to take them places, one must also give respect to their songwriting ability. Seldom has death metal sounded as catchy as in the likes of “Nihil” and “Crosswhore”, the latter of which is rendered into an even better version by a cameo from Aborted vocalist Sven de Caluwé. As if this song were not brutal enough already, de Caluwé’s maniacal growls and pig squeals take it to another level of savagery, ending the 50-minute support set in a climax.

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Aborted

If I was to describe Aborted live in a single word, it would be intense. The eerie, ambient intro full of birdsong and spoken word is a rare moment of calm in an otherwise relentless barrage of grinding death metal that begins with the title track to “TerrorVision” — the Belgian group’s latest album from 2018. Vocalist and sole remaining founding member Sven de Caluwé immediately positions himself at the centre of the proceedings, darting from side to side amongst his band mates as he spits out his guttural growls and swine squeals, only stopping to headbang deeply when the music turns instrumental. But while he is very much in the spotlight, the other musicians — guitarists Ian Jekelis & Harrison Patuto, bassist Stefano Franceschini, and drummer Ken Bedene — contribute their fair share of showmanship to the concert as well. It takes focus to be able to shred your guitar as vociferously as Jekelis & Patuto do during the likes of “Necrotic Manifesto” (off its namesake 2015 album), yet in spite of this, the two are constantly engaged in a windmilling contest and even manage to execute a couple of jumps off Bedene’s riser just before the finale of the classic “Hecatomb” (taken from 2005’s “The Archaic Abattoir”). And speaking of Bedene, one cannot but admire the man for his skill behind the kit. His work in the likes of “Deep Red” and “Squalor Opera” is phenomenal, regardless of whether he is laying down mid-tempo grooves or imitating the sound and mechanics of a machine gun.

Indeed, Bedene and Franceschini are the enablers here, controlling the rhythm and tempering the insanity somewhat where necessary, while the rest of the band stumble over one another to inject the most extreme sounds into the music. So yes, Aborted are f**king intense, even on a large stage like this one, and it is no surprise thus, that the crowd responds to their efforts with a slew of mosh pits, circle pits, and even a wall of death during the breakdown in the older “The Saw and the Carnage Done” (taken from the band’s 2003 outing “Goremageddon”). The euphoria is at its highest, however, when BAEST vocalist Simon Olsen walks onto the stage for a cameo during “A Whore D’oeuvre Macabre”, which is rendered even more brutal by their dual growls, and which also features one of the very best segments on the “TerrorVision” album: a Death-like segment of ominous tremolo melodies riding on the crest of an irresistible groove. When “Threading on Vermillion Deception”, with its surprising, Gojira-esque nuances in the intro, brings the onslaught to a conclusion, it is thus difficult to imagine anyone being left disappointed by this domineering performance from Belgium’s number one extreme metal merchants.

8


Entombed A.D.

Entombed A.D. have always shunned frills in their music, so it is only natural that their stage setup reflects this attitude. Apart from a couple of cabinets, a drum riser, and a very basic backdrop, nothing about the production suggests the Stockholm-born veterans are here in a headlining capacity. In fact the only notion of theatre in the quintet’s performance is the dramatic intro of dancing lights and ‘80s synth music, which, however, quickly gives way to “Elimination” off the band’s latest album “Bowels of Earth” as the four musicians arrive on stage. The reaction of the audience is quite a bit more subdued than during the previous two performances, though a small mosh pit does initiate when “Fit for a King” is played immediately after. The muted response is perhaps explained by the fact that a lot of people still consider Entombed A.D. to be a weaker incarnation of the original Entombed, and have little interest in the three records the band has spawned since 2014, despite the fact that most of it is actually of a pretty high standard, objectively speaking. And quite right, there is a clear change of atmosphere as the first of many Entombed classics, “I for an Eye” off 2001’s “Morning Star”, is aired; the pit grows larger and wilder, and there are even a couple of crowd surfers flying toward the stage during the groovy second half of the song.

Unlike the more futuristic (or shall we say, inhuman?) style of Aborted, much of Entombed A.D.’s charm stems from their doing things the old-school, organic way. The songs crackle and squeak like only classic material can, and the band’s presence is more intimate than the Belgians’ — in particular frontman L-G Petrov, who is not afraid to inject bits of humour into the proceedings when he is not busy stomping around the stage to the rhythm of the dirty groove in “Second to None” (one of the standout picks from the band’s 2014 ‘début’ album “Back to the Front”), or twitching like a madman during the eerie “Stranger Aeons” (off Entombed’s 1991 sophomore outing “Clandestine”). Around him, it is especially the session bassist Tobias Christiansson drawing attention to himself, not least by virtue of his stupendously long hair, which paints some interesting patterns in the air when he swings it like a windmill in appreciation of the circle pit that has formed to honour “Revel in Flesh” (a much adored cut from Entombed’s 1990 début album “Left Hand Path”). Ignoring the initial hesitation, the audience is in a euphoric state now as all the classics are rolled out one after the other, culminating, of course, in an all-too-short rendition of “Wolverine Blues” off its namesake 1993 effort. Clearly all of the musicians involved in this tour are quite chummy with each other now, because Simon Olsen of BAEST once again makes a cameo and renders this excellent song even more visceral than it already is. His appearance continues to enchant the local crowd, enabling Entombed A.D. to finish the concert off in raging fashion with a trifecta of old-school tracks concluding with the pitch black “Supposed to Rot”. It provides a fine ending to a solid, though not extraordinary performance from this Swedish bulwark.

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Setlist:

  • 01. Elimination
  • 02. Fit for a King
  • 03. I for an Eye (Entombed cover)
  • 04. Bowels of Earth
  • 05. Torment Remains
  • 06. Chaos Breed (Entombed cover)
  • 07. Second to None
  • 08. Through the Eyes of the Gods
  • 09. Bourbon Nightmare
  • 10. Stranger Aeons (Entombed cover)
  • 11. Revel in Flesh (Entombed cover)
  • 12. Wolverine Blues (Entombed cover)
  • 13. Left Hand Path (Entombed cover)
  • 14. Serpent Speech (Entombed cover)
  • 15. Supposed to Rot (Entombed cover)

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