Knocked Loose

support Malevolence + Renounced + Justice For The Damned
author AP date 10/12/19 venue Lille VEGA, Copenhagen, DEN

When I arrive at VEGA on this freezing December evening, the empty circle in the middle of the room that people have courteously left there for two-steppers immediately reminds me that it has been a long time since I last went to a genuine hardcore punk show. I am in no mood for bruises, however, so I make sure to stand in my favourite location of any venue: by the bar, from where it is easy to stay out of trouble, get a good overview of the festivities and have fast access to refreshments. The last thing of course has its own dangers associated with it, especially when one has a job to go to early in the morning. But who worries about such things when there is live music to be heard? I don’t — so I grab my first pint and prepare to watch the opening act.

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest


Justice For The Damned

JFTD have traveled from afar to be part of this tour — more specifically Sydney, Australia — but it seems like the last shreds of jet lag have long since dissipated. “Alright, what the f**k is up, Copenhagen?”, bellows vocalist Bobak Rafiee as the band arrives on stage, looking like they have something to prove, and as soon as the opening track gets going, there are people pacing the open pit, riling themselves up for a night of flailing their arms and kicking the air, as if playing Mortal Kombat with VR goggles. This five-piece from Down Under is the perfect catalyst for such antics from the crowd, though as the set progresses, it also becomes clear that JFTD have tried to move away from pure beatdown hardcore by introducing nuances of black metal, grindcore and even some tom-tom-based tribal percussion into their music. And it is especially when those tribal influences are flashed by drummer Chas Levi in the likes of “Dragged through the Dirt” (the title track to the band’s 2017 album) and the brand new “The House You Built Is Burning” that the band manages to pique my interest. Less so the injections of dark tremolo melodies from the two guitarists — Nick Adams & Kieran Molloy — which ring and soar like hell, but never achieve the grandeur of the genre from which they are borrowed. One can also tell that people are not here to be challenged by unconventional touches, as crowd activity is at its dullest in these moments, while the countless, inevitable breakdowns provide the driver for the moshers to let loose. Rafiee is pleased with what he sees, albeit he does call for “more fucking movement!” in the wake of virtually every song. I suspect this is part of his projection of machismo, as his performance is mostly defined by aggressively pacing the stage and beating his chest as he growls his lyrics at us. I personally find his showmanship to be quite cliché, and since very little of the material itself catches me, I must admit that by the time “Please Don’t Leave Me” arrives to close the set, JFTD have not succeeded in making a fan out of me.

5


Renounced

“Death to false metalcore”, reads the Facebook bio of this London-based quintet, and they certainly do their utmost to stand behind their mantra. As the intro piece “Ghosts” off the group’s latest album “Beauty Is a Destructive Angel” gives way to the first track proper, “Self Inflicted”, the clock is instantly wound back to the late ‘90s and early ‘00s heyday of metalcore, where staccato riffs, harmonised twin leads and sharply timed breakdowns was the sacred combination. Indeed, these Britons have done their homework, and as such, they manage to sound much older than actually is the case (the band debuted in 2014 with “The Melancholy We Ache”). As an avid fan of classic metalcore, I am far more intrigued by Renounced than I was by the opening act — even if the music does have a tendency to sound a little derivative at times. In an attempt to remedy this impression (and indeed in order to fit tonight’s bill), the group does throw in elements of beatdown hardcore here and there, resulting in horror chord-backed breakdowns that possibly sound even more devastating than those laid down by JFTD just before. Apart from the different style, which includes the occasional clean singing by one of the guitarists, as well as quite emotional lyricism, Renounced do not do all that much to separate themselves from the pack here. They employ the same show tricks as JFTD, with vocalist Daniel Gray striding back and forth, sometimes dropping to his knees when a particularly impassioned moment arrives, while the remaining musicians are content with standing in their positions and rocking out ever so slightly. Regardless, the moshing is constant and violent, though one suspects that the handful of individuals operating in the pit are either indifferent to, or unaware of who or what is on stage as long as they cater to some two-step action. I am marginally more enthusiastic about Renounced than JFTD, but I am still not totally impressed.

6


Malevolence

Sheffield’s Malevolence seizes my attention straight from the get-go, however, by virtue of both an energetic performance and music bristling with tasty southern fried riffs. This band may be British, but their heart belongs in the Deep South of the United States, to the extent that one is compelled to describe their music as Pantera, or perhaps Lamb of God, played by a hardcore band. Opening with “Slave to Satisfaction” off their 2017 album “Self Supremacy”, Malevolence succeed, as the first band tonight, in capturing not only the pit fiends, but the rest of the audience as well, and by the time “Condemned to Misery” (taken from 2013’s “Reign of Suffering”) takes over, many more patrons have entered the fracas in the middle of the room and transformed it into a circle pit. I still remain in the back of the room, but that does not prevent me from feeling the band’s grasp, with especially the the groove laden “Serpents Chokehold” drawing a smile of satisfaction onto my lips. And it is not only the band’s music that proves to be engaging — it is, as already hinted at, their showmanship as well. Vocalist Alex Taylor is an expert in crowd control, as underlined by the fact that regardless of what he demands of people here, they obey, including a massive eruption of two-step ‘dancing’ during the savaging metallic hardcore piece “Severed Ties”. But while he draws a lot of attention to himself, the rest of the band is not far behind in the degree to which they exert themselves, with plenty of jumps, kicks and spins executed by bassist Wilkie Robinson as well as the two guitarists, Josh Baines & Konan Hall, throughout the set. Indeed, it is riffs and guitar solos and bursts of energy galore, and the evening is finally given the boost it needs by a band whose intensity receives a deservedly fantastic response from the audience.

7


Knocked Loose

Even though Knocked Loose have been riding the underground hype wagon for some time now, I must shamefully admit that I only have very limited knowledge of them. Apart from the obvious — that these Kentuckians play hardcore punk — I have no idea what to expect, which explains why I am so surprised to hear vocalist Bryan Garris employ such an atypical type of voice for this genre. His screams are in a much higher pitch than any of the other bands on the bill tonight, but rather than coming across as off-putting, it seems to bolster the deranged style of this band’s music. All of the artists on this tour lean toward the heavier end of hardcore punk, but Knocked Loose are on a different level, with virtually all of the songs built around chugs and devastating breakdowns that leave little to no room for melody. The moshpit is already looking hazardous, yet after “Belleville” off the group’s latest album “A Different Shade of Blue” has ended, guitarist and backing vocalist Isaac Hale (who acts as a kind of MC throughout the evening) nonetheless roars, “Move this shit! Move! Move! Move!”, in a bid to drive people into an even greater frenzy. His efforts have the desired effect, and soon there is a steady stream of crowd members flying from the stage in perilous-looking dives. During “All My Friends” (taken from the band’s 2014 EP “Pop Culture”), there are so many of them that the receiving end on the floor cannot keep up, and eventually what I have been dreading all along happens: someone lands headfirst on the floor.

The music of Knocked Loose is not up my alley — not even when the monotony is interrupted by injections of dire, eerie melodies and djent grooves in the likes of “Oblivions Peak” (which features on the band’s 2016 album “Laugh Tracks”) and later also “Misguided Son”. But the band’s attitude, and the unbelievable level of heaviness into which they push their music nonetheless renders them an intoxicating live act. All five members spare no energy, leading by example in order to generate a berserk reaction from the audience — and apart from the few of us standing in the back, the crowd repays those efforts to create one of the most participatory concert experiences I have ever witnessed on Danish soil. It is pure mayhem on the floor and I am genuinely surprised only one person is unconscious (because of the aforementioned unsuccessful stage dive) after “Billy No Mates” and “Counting Worms” eventually bring this maelstrom of a show to a conclusion. So while I certainly won’t be listening to Knocked Loose casually at home, I would get some serious FOMO if I was prevented from attending the next concert they will play on Danish soil. The degree of fury dispensed here has been f**king cathartic!

8

Setlist:

  • 01. Trapped in the Grasp of a Memory
  • 02. Belleville
  • 03. All My Friends
  • 04. Oblivions Peak
  • 05. Forget Your Name
  • 06. Road 23
  • 07. Misguided Son
  • 08. …And Still I Wander South
  • 09. By the Grave
  • 10. Deadringer
  • 11. Mistakes Like Fractures
  • 12. A Serpent’s Touch
  • 13. Billy No Mates
  • 14. Counting Worms

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