Konvent

support Morild + Eyes + Katla
author AP date 25/01/20 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

In what used to be an extremely rare feat until only a couple of years ago, the larger upstairs room at Pumpehuset has managed to sell out with a bill exclusively featuring domestic metal bands. This is a testimony to the fact that the scene is enjoying perhaps its best period ever, with promising artists now popping up with an increasing frequency, and audiences now willing to support them by turning up in force whenever these artists need it the most. Arriving some 20 minutes before the first of four bands is set to begin, the venue feels electric with anticipation for one of the most hyped units in Danish metal right now: the all-female doom metallers of Konvent, whose début album has landed in stores the day before via the cult institution that is Napalm Records. And with three other excellent bands also lined up to perform, there is real potential here for a night to remember.

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest


Katla

Katla have come a long way since their recent inception, having emerged victorious from last year’s edition of the annual W:O:A Metal Battle and seen the hype surrounding their name grow on an almost weekly basis after that. There is thus good reason to be excited about the Copenhagen trio’s performance here, and to no one’s surprise, the venue is already packed to the brim when the clock strikes 8 p.m. and an eerie intro of rattles, sighs and apocalyptic horns starts to emanate from the speakers. And it does not take long for the three musicians to win our hearts with their heavy stoner-doom grooves and energetic show. Although in musical terms, Katla have little in common with Kadavar, it would not surprise me if they had taken cue from the German stoner rockers’ style of performing. Flanked by a pair of inverted crosses, drummer Rasmus Bang wastes no time in making a spectacle of himself, swinging his hair and pounding his kit with astonishing menace from the word ‘go!’, while, to his either side, guitarist Marc Christensen and bassist David Rosing spice up their riffing by rocking out as though it were their last day on Earth.

The music they create may be simple, but it is easy to hear why Katla have garnered so much praise in such a short period of time; they have the riffs and the dynamics needed to produce catchiness in a genre that is not exactly renowned for it, and as such, even though they seem to prefer completely exhausting an idea before moving onto the next, one never feels like their songs drag on unnecessarily. On the contrary, the multiple instrumental segments presented in the likes of “Man Slayer” off the band’s self-titled 2019 EP bestow upon the music an entrancing quality that sends hundreds of heads banging without a conscious effort on anyone’s part. Somewhat to my surprise, just before the last song Rosing is spurred to exclaim: “We don’t give a f**k about the church, and we don’t give a f**k about the establishment! F**k capitalism!”, revealing yet another interesting aspect of Katla that is quite atypical to the genre — namely political, rather than pro-drug, anti-religious lyricism. They provide an excellent start to the evening, and thankfully, it won’t be that long before the band takes the stage here again in support of BAEST in a little less than two months’ time.

8


Eyes

Even though the line-up tonight is quite diverse, Eyes nonetheless strike me as the odd ones out. It would not surprise me if this chaotic and vitriolic hardcore punk unit was added to the bill in order to shake things up between the slow and atmosphere-focused other artists, but in honesty, the antics of frontman Victor Kaas are almost too much in this setting. His eyes bulging with antipathy, and his voice seething with indignity, Kaas makes a valiant attempt at stirring a reaction in line with his own performance from the audience, but alas his calls for mosh and circle pits go largely unheeded, save for a tiny handful of fans upfront. “Come closer… We need to destroy things. We need some crushed skulls!”, he tries, before entering the pit himself, but still it seems like the dissonance of tracks like “Silhouettes” (taken from the bad’s self-titled 2018 EP) fails to attract much interest from a crowd disposed to all things slow and heavy. One has to applaud Kaas and his colleagues for their show of tenacity, however; they look unfazed by the stillness, and spare no energy in their efforts to deliver an invigorating concert and perhaps convert a couple of metalheads in the process. But even so, I can’t help thinking (and remembering) that Eyes are far better suited for an intimate venue full of the punk-of-heart. I admire the band’s chutzpah, but this is nonetheless the first time I have been left with something of a flat feeling after one of their shows.

6


Morild

It is not often bands choose to perform in pitch darkness, but this is exactly how Morild have elected to begin their performance tonight. Together with the patient swell of their first song, it builds tension and atmosphere before ultraviolet lights slowly start to illuminate the five musicians, each of whom is splattered with luminescent paint in keeping with the band’s moniker, which is Danish for the ghostly light emitted by phosphorescent algae. Morild have built a reputation as one of the most immersive and mysterious live acts in the country, and even though this is my second time in two months seeing it, the allure of their showmanship is yet to wear out. But compared to their concert here in November, the sound mix is not in the quintet’s favour; the thunder of Simon Frenning Sørensen’s drumming and the reverberating growls of Tue Krebs Roikjer threaten to inundate everything else, such that at first, it is only when the music enters a more tranquil segment that any semblance of melody becomes apparent. Blissfully unaware of this, the five musicians — or rather, their silhouettes — deliver a spellbinding visual performance, and when the soundscape does achieve a balance intermittently, the elegance of Morild’s music once again leaves me at a loss for words. Their début album “Så kom mørket…” is quite the varied affair, and the band seems to use that variety in order to mix things up. Indeed, whereas the concert in November emphasised the black metal aspects of that record, the setlist tonight seems to focus on its subtler and more atmospheric facets, producing a show that feels unique even after such a short period of time between the two experiences for me. But alas, the imbalanced mix ultimately leaves me feeling ambivalent, the crescendos losing much of their grandeur to the infernal, low-end rumble that erupts as soon as the volume rises.

7


Konvent

As the clock nears 11 p.m., the lights are dimmed for the last time while an ominous children’s choir sings its sermon on the backing track. It is a dramatic intro befitting the band’s abyssal take on death and doom metal, and it segues nicely into “Puritan Masochism” and its dire tone. Whereas most new artists like to innovate on old ideas, this title track to Konvent’s début album carves it out plainly that the four musicians prefer a retrospective approach; the guitar riffs slung by Sara Helena Nørregaard have that distinctly old-school crunch and tubular tone to them, while vocalist Rikke Emilie List enlists the sort of startlingly guttural growls that are seldom heard beyond the depths of underground death metal. Throw in bass lines that resemble molten lead by Heidi Withington Brink and drums that stomp like a primeval beast, and you have one of the heaviest metal bands Denmark has to offer right now — one that sends the majority of the audience headbanging without any hesitation. The group has an impressive hold on the crowd, and much of that owes to the showmanship of List. She has a unique ability to seem like she is performing exclusively to you, ensuring that her eyes meet as many of the attendees as possible, and in general by using her arms and facial expressions for emphasis. Her three compatriots have no shortage of energy either, but even so it is List who shoulders most of the responsibility in Konvent’s putting on a show.

The audience seems enamoured, but it would be amiss not to mention some of the cracks that begin to appear in the fabric of this concert by the time the harrowing “Trust” has sent its wave of tremors through the venue floor. While there is no doubt that Konvent excel in producing crushing tunes, their music has the unfortunate side effect of growing very monotonous over the course of an evening, to the extent that it sometimes feels like one unchanging song. I admire the brutal growls laid down by List, but they are also the main culprit for erasing the differences between the individual songs — and this becomes very obvious when Morild’s Tue Krebs Roikjer joins her for a cameo during “Waste”. It is the first time in these proceedings that one really notices a song, and the same applies to the penultimate “Ropes pt. II”, which brings a notion of grandeur to the table and practically begs for List to reach for a higher pitch during the crescendo. I am thus left feeling divided. In visual terms the band delivers an entrancing performance, with the witchy antics of List in particular catching the eye, but as far as the music goes, standout moments are too few and far in between to render this concert as one for the ages, contrary to what I had hoped and predicted. Konvent are still in the early stage of their career, however, so there is no reason to worry. The four musicians show plenty of potential, which is certain to really unfurl as they build up experience henceforth.

7

Setlist:

  • 01. Puritan Masochism
  • 02. The Eye
  • 03. Trust
  • 04. World of God
  • 05. Bridge
  • 06. Waste
  • 07. Idle Hands
  • 08. Ropes pt. I
  • 09. Ropes pt. II

— Encore —

  • 10. Squares

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