The Haunted

support Hatesphere
author AP date 14/10/21 venue Tapperiet, Køge, DEN

Usually, I’m a bit lazy when it comes to attending concerts outside the Copenhagen city limits, but having been show starved for so long, I kick myself into action nonetheless and drive the 75 kilometres or so from my temporary residence to Køge, where one of my all-time favourite bands, The Haunted, are set to perform. A few minutes after arrival, it turns out that the group’s rhythm guitarist Patrik Jensen is stuck on a train in Sweden, which initially feels like a big blow to me, having come all this way for the complete package. The Haunted’s music is renowned for its crushing low end after all… But before I have time to get depressed about the man down situation, the evening’s support band Hatesphere arrive on stage to take my mind elsewhere.

All photos courtesy of Lykke Nielsen

Hatesphere

Hatesphere’s entrance is unceremonious, happening to the tune of circus music — or perhaps the soundtrack to some old Charlie Chaplin flick — which is then promptly interrupted by their launching straight into the chugging “Lies and Deceit” off 2017’s “Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes”. The thrash fueled death metal of this track reaffirms my belief that there is no better band in Denmark to warm up for The Haunted; they have previously cited the Swedish outfit to be one of their primary sources of inspiration and in honesty it is sometimes hard to find obvious differences between the two bands’ music. That is not an issue tonight, as the likes of “Murderlust” (from its namesake 2013 album) provide the perfect soundtrack for loosening up those neck muscles in anticipation of the evening’s headliners. And anyway, if there is one thing this Århus-born unit will be remembered for, it is unquestionably their showmanship, particularly that of the sole remaining founding member, guitarist Peter Lyse Hansen, as well as their shifting vocalists the latest of whom is the current session frontman Michael Olsson of Blood Eagle and Caro. He fills the shoes of his predecessors effortlessly, interchangeably glaring and grinning at us as he marches around the stage with a dominating confidence, and spitting dryly humorous remarks in between the songs.

Hansen has not lost his touch during his 21-year tenure in this band (or indeed 28-year, if one includes the band’s previous incarnation as Necrosis) either, slinging his lead guitar low and constantly flashing his signature, jesting expressions amidst the shred. It is no wonder that a moshpit eventually forms in appreciation of the group’s ‘smash hit’ “Sickness Within” (the title track to their 2005 offering), its manifestation so abrupt and violent that multiple beers are spilled onto the floor making the pit seem more like an ice skating rink as the song reaches its ominous breakdown. As the seventh and final track, it renders the show quite short even by support set standards, and as such the concert ends up feeling a bit rushed and unfocused compared to the plethora of times I have witnessed Hatesphere in a headlining capacity in the past. As only their second live concert since the first lockdown came into effect in March 2020, it is a decent showing, albeit not one I am likely to recall fondly as a particularly noteworthy moment in the band’s long career.

6

The Haunted

The Haunted initiate their set in the same way their latest album, 2017’s “Strength in Numbers”, begins: with the short, instrumental intro track “Fill the Darkness with Black” followed by “Brute Force”, which certainly lives up to its name here at Tapperiet tonight. The mix is far from ideal at first, but the song is nonetheless well received by the sizeable audience now numbering some 300 people by a gross estimation, and by the time it is nearing its end, a moshpit has already opened in the centre of the venue as an omen for how the rest of the evening will proceed. Still, it is the more classic cuts like “99” off the band’s iconic 2004 album “rEVOLVEr” that draw the most fanatical response from the attendees, which in turn compels vocalist Marco Aro to beat his microphone against his forehead until it starts to bleed. As a result, those growled words of “No one gets out alive!” just before the final chorus have seldom felt more hard hitting. Another aspect that sounds hard hitting though, are the instrumental parts, as the volume of Jonas Björler’s bass guitar has been turned up noticeably higher than usual in order to compensate for the absence of Jensen’s rhythm guitar in the mix, which is thankfully much more balanced than it was during the first two songs. The guitar solo by Ola Englund in “99” sounds absolutely phenomenal with only a bass riff rumbling beneath it, and although the band’s harmonised leads in songs like “Trespass” (taken from 2000’s “Made Me Do It”) and later on “Preachers of Death” are obviously missing, this is not something that anyone seems to notice or mind all that much.

Indeed, both band and audience are in high spirits, the former performing with a fierce intensity and the latter responding by tirelessly moshing, singing and shouting along to live staples such as “The Medication”, which appears on 2006’s “The Dead Eye” full-length. “This is crazy, man...", utters Aro in the aftermath of that song, visibly taken aback by the passion of the Danish fans present here, and as the aforementioned “Preachers of Death” gets underway in its oddly timed rhythm, he elects to stand completely still at stage centre, eyes shut and his fist in the air, seemingly just taking in the atmosphere inside the venue. Aro and his compatriots genuinely look to be fuelled by the crowd, which helps them to conjure up savage renditions of “Spark” and my personal favourite off 2014’s “Exit Wounds”, “Trend Killer”, with Björler’s bass guitar once again stealing the focus by virtue of its punishing tone and volume. And when “All Against All” is aired shortly after, the pandemonium on the floor only intensifies, with the evening’s first crowd surfer rising from the raging the pit in response to Aro’s asking, “Should we lift the roof off this place?”. This is of course one of the songs The Haunted are most revered for, and one I myself scream my throat hoarse along to, but even so there can be no doubt that Aro and the rest of the band feel there is something special about the festivities tonight. “Thank you so fucking much, thank you!”, he offers once it ends while moving around the stage to ensure he interacts with ever portion of the crowd, with the purest honesty and humbleness emanating from his voice and expression.

One of the reasons this concert stands out is for sure the setlist, which covers the Gothenburg band’s extensive discography, with the notable exception of the divisive records “Versus” and “Unseen”, both of which saw the former vocalist Peter Dolving leading the band into a more mainstream, hard rock style sound. In my opinion, some of the tracks on those albums do have their merit, but they would have sounded misplaced on tonight’s setlist and I am pretty sure I speak for everyone when I say that they aren’t missed. No, while everyone has a different set of favourite Haunted tracks, no classic is left unplayed, with the final third of the ordinary set in particular delivering a litany of those, among them “Undead”, “D.O.A.” and “Bury Your Dead”, the latter of which inspires the moshers to organise themselves into a circle pit. The roof is well and truly lifted off the place during “Hate Song”, with multiple crowd surfers now shedding their careful pandemic behaviours, and once “Bullet Hole” in the encore brings things to a conclusion after almost 90 minutes of concert, Aro deservedly rounds it off with a mic drop. An intense and absolutely devastating show of force from these veterans of the death and thrash metal fusion.

9

Setlist:

  • 01. Fill the Darkness with Black
  • 02. Brute Force
  • 03. 99
  • 04. Trespass
  • 05. The Flood
  • 06. The Medication
  • 07. Preachers of Death
  • 08. Spark
  • 09. Trend Killer
  • 10. Time (Will Not Heal)
  • 11. All Against All
  • 12. No Compromise
  • 13. Hollow Ground
  • 14. Undead
  • 15. D.O.A.
  • 16. The Guilt Trip
  • 17. Dark Intentions
  • 18. Bury Your Dead
  • 19. Hate Song

— Encore —

  • 20. Bullet Hole

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