Livløs

support Iotunn
author AP date 12/11/21 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

This is my second night in a row, attending a concert, which is not something that I’ve been able to write for a very long time. The menu is entirely Danish tonight, comprising the progressive metallers of Iotunn as the appetiser, and the melodic death metal crew Livløs as the main course — judging by the strong turnout, a popular combo. I arrive at the venue with a slight buzz on, having drunk a couple of strong craft beers to get those Friday vibes flowing in advance of the headbanging antics in store, and immediately note that, once again, the atmosphere is already quite festive even before the first act has taken the stage. They do so within minutes of my arrival, however, so I pinch a pint of pilsner from the bar and set myself up near the front and center of the venue’s upstairs room.

All photos courtesy of Lykke Nielsen

Iotunn

Iotunn have been generating waves within the Danish metal community lately, not least by virtue of their lauded début album “Access All Worlds”, which they are also intending to perform in its entirety tonight. This is a bold move, considering that the record clocks in at 61 minutes and features mostly long and progressive cuts like the opener “Voyage of the Garganey I”. But it seems to be a winning move amongst the crowd here, with continuous roars of approval resonating through the cavernous room during the transitions between the various grandiose passages that make up this, and indeed all of the group’s material. Vocalist Jón Aldará is theatrically robed in a hooded cloak and has what appears to be runes of some sort painted onto his face, which is a very different appearance compared to my first experience of the band in 2017. Many a thing has changed since though, with the overblown, power metal-style singing of his predecessor Benjamin Jensen in particular toned down to make more room for Aldará's Nemtheanga-esque, strained roars and growls that, in my opinion, are a much better fit for the instrumentals. He still remains an expressive character, full of pathos as he uses his hands and arms and face to bring the lyricism in songs like “Waves Below” to life. He has a druidic way of performing that reminds me in equal parts of Mayhem’s Attila Csihar and Taake’s Hoest, except of course for his rather different vocal style.

There is no doubt that Iotunn’s showmanship is centered on Aldará's antics, but when I redirect my gaze onto the other musicians surrounding him, it is also clear that the entire band has developed immensely over the course of the last four years. The technical proficiency of brother guitarists Jens Nicolai and Jesper Gräs, bassist Eskil Rask and drummer Bjørn Wind Andersen is prodigious, and while it obviously requires some focus to pull off the riffs and rhythms in tracks such as “The Tower of Cosmic Nihility”, there is sufficient headbanging, windmilling and instrument brandishing by them happening to ensure that Iotunn never comes across as a one-man show in the same way that the aforementioned Taake for instance does. It has to be said that unless one is familiar with the record, however, 65 minutes of such thespian music has a tendency to wear people out, and this is exactly what starts to happen during the second last piece, “The Weaver System”, as a significant number of people make their way toward the bathrooms and bars to avoid queues. Fortunately, none of the five musicians seems to be fazed by this, and they proceed to bring the show to a grand conclusion with the epic, nigh 14-minute “Safe Across the Endless Night” without compromising on any of the power or theatre that has been governing the rest of their set. So while Iotunn’s music is of a nature that will inevitably render it not everyone’s cup of tea (power and extreme metal makes for a rather odd couple after all…), they deserve all the applause they receive tonight. The hype, it seems, is entirely justified.

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Livløs

It is hard to get past the fact that at least some of the buzz around this Århusian band stems from their having produced Simon Lindemann Olsen, the current vocalist of the Danish death metal comet BAEST. But nevertheless, his replacement Niklas Lykke has done a fine job not only in filling his predecessor’s shoes, but also avoiding Olsen’s shadow and thus ensuring that Livløs still have an identity of their own. People are not here in droves to remember Olsen — they are here to take in what has turned out to be a charismatic and riveting frontman in his own right, and naturally also the rest of a band, whose brand of melodic death metal seems to tickle Danish audiences in all the right places. Kicking off with “Kistefjael”, the interlude off their recent sophomore album “And Then There Were None”, followed by its natural partner “Drenched in Turmoil”, the five-piece is an instant sight to behold, particularly so Lykke, who wastes no time in making mad dashes across the stage, wielding his microphone stand like a commander leading his men to battle. A moshpit forms almost immediately and continues to rage on throughout the 70-minute set, the 500 or so attendees clearly enthralled by Lykke & co.’s imposing showmanship.

Still, I cannot shake the feeling that apart from their abilities as a live act, the things that are meant to distinguish Livløs from their myriad peers are not easy to identify. It seems to me like their main driver is to ensure their audiences have a party, which can sometimes feel a little off considering the extreme and intense nature of most of their material. And said material itself lacks those absolutely unforgettable tracks that can light things up, excepting the slow and heavy title track from their 2018 début album “Into Beyond”, which both has crowd surfers flying toward the stage and a sizeable wall of death spanning half the room forming halfway through. But even as the Århusian quintet then returns to play an encore, none of the three songs that comprise it arouse too much excitement in me, coming across merely as decent, but far from extraordinary examples of melodic death metal. It is thus fortunate that they have the showmanship required to blow people away at concerts, and while I would personally like my ears to be treated to something a bit more special as well, it is not without some semblance of having been impressed that I head out into the Copenhagen nightlife once “Seize the Night” finally brings the show to a conclusion.

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Setlist:

  • 01. Kistefjael
  • 02. Drenched in Turmoil
  • 03. The Sleepless
  • 04. And Then There Were None
  • 05. Rot & Ruin
  • 06. Mortal Severance
  • 07. Serpentine Supremacy
  • 08. Before the Flood
  • 09. Gallows
  • 10. Blood & Despair
  • 11. The Path
  • 12. Pallbearer
  • 13. Into Beyond

— Encore —

  • 14. The Purest Black
  • 15. Sheets
  • 16. Seize the Night

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