Pupil Slicer

support Demersal + Genocide Doctrine
author AP date 02/06/22 venue Stairway, Vanløse, DEN

It has been a while since I last got to experience a genuine floor show, but when I arrive at Stairway in the Vanløse district of Copenhagen, this is the setup I am met by — much to my positive surprise. In relation to the stage, the amps, mic stands and instruments are positioned against the right wall, perpendicular to the sound and light desk, and there is, of course, no barrier to separate the artists from the smallish audience that has found its way here tonight. Combine that with the fact that this will be the first time the headliners in Pupil Slicer have played outside of their native United Kingdom, and everything seems set for exactly the sort of intimate, raucous, sweaty and unhinged show I have been hoping for. Let’s see how it turned out, shall we?

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest


Genocide Doctrine

In another first, this is apparently Genocide Doctrine’s début concert. But the trio, which has swollen into a four-piece with a session bassist for the occasion, spends little time on introductions, telling us “We are Genocide Doctrine. We play hard, fast, and short." before unleashing their barrage of archetypical deathgrind. Songs like “Planetary Decimation” and “Discipline the Lesser” start and stop quicker than one can draw a breath, but nonetheless paint the group’s seasoned drummer Richardt Olsen in particular in a glowing light. Not only does he play at a staggering velocity most of the time, his patterns are also distinguished by an impressive amount of texture that adds some much needed variety into the band’s music. Meanwhile, vocalist Mads T. Madsen has wrapped his microphone cord around his neck, dangling it above his head as though he were trying to hang himself with it, while he practically vomits his growls out into it. His repertoire of dry humour also helps to fill the short pauses between the tracks as guitarist and backing vocalist Lars Johansson tunes his instrument — not that there are many of those during the 20 minutes their setlist lasts. It is a very decent first concert then, albeit one that would benefit from more intense showmanship from the three actual band members; for now, it seems to be just the session bassist who is willing to throw himself around and engage in some wilder acrobatics especially toward the end of the set. Fans of classic grindcore should still find lots to appreciate in Genocide Doctrine’s music, which delivers cacophony and groove galore.

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Demersal

Just two weeks before, Demersal were without their bassist Jonas Maigaard and plagued by a horrific sound mix that rendered their set at A Colossal Weekend into a 40-minute drum solo by Emil Lake. It was not the band’s fault, but it made their performance impossible to enjoy, which is why, as soon as their concert here begins, it nigh feels like a redemption. As guitarist Viktor Ravn’s shrill screams and piercing tremolo melodies fill the room, I am instantly reminded what makes this quartet so good: their music is emotive and atmospheric, and their performance is extremely intense. Indeed, Maigaard is throwing himself into the front rank of the crowd at every opportunity, while Lake is slamming his kit so hard that one of the rubber fixtures keeping his hi-hat in place flies off halfway through a song. Meanwhile, Ravn and the other guitarist Sebastian Andersen are exchanging growls, stumbling over each another to pull the most anguished face expression to embody the downtrodden nature of their skramzy tunes. Demersal are thus once again showing us why they’re the perfect basement band: raw, unadulterated, and so, so present. It is performances like this that give me faith in the tiny, yet hard-working, Danish punk underground — one that is happy to embrace all kinds of subgenres like the classic screamo played by Demersal. It sounds counterintuitive, but I hope this band never makes it big so that we may continue watching them in these dingy, intimate spaces where they’re at their best.

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Pupil Slicer

Having watched Demersal’s show from the merch table, both Pupil Slicer’s guitarist and vocalist Kate Davies and bassist Luke Fabian are probably wondering how they are going to one-up the local act, as they take their positions on the floor. But they have nothing to worry about; as soon as they launch the concert with “Martyrs” off their début album “Mirrors”, the first two-step dancer of the evening knocks the beer out of my hand and sets the stage for an even wilder performance than Demersal’s. The trio’s session guitarist may be wearing a shirt with a deathcore Dolly Parton on it, but as the squeal, screech and whine effects that Davies is pulling out of her instrument prove, we are deep down the mathcore rabbit hole now. After “Husk” is played, she stops to put on a pair of sunglasses and admits that “It’s amazing that anyone even turned up", which only underscores the fact that these four musicians look completely bedazzled by the mad reaction they’re getting from a crowd numbering perhaps 30 at the most. There is a slight hint of nervousness about the group, but they deliver their often impossibly technical songs like “L’appel du Vide” and “Worthless” with precision, with Fabian in particular proving himself a virtuoso with his slap bass technique. With his long dreadlocks, he looks straight out of the kind of reggae or funk rock outfit in which this kind of playing is the norm — and his grooves prove to be a vital part of keeping Pupil Slicer’s chaos from collapsing into nonsense.

One of the most harrowing moments of the concert arrives with the intro to the band’s latest single “Thermal Runaway”, which sees Davies frenetically screaming above a punchy bass line by Fabian, the former’s eyes threatening to pop out of her skull from sheer vitriol. That song inspires even more people to partake in the two-step action upfront much to the band’s satisfaction, and by the time the blackgazing “Collective Unconscious” is played, all of those jitters that Davies & co. might have had in the beginning are gone. Instead, the quartet looks to be really feeling it now, shutting their eyes and arching back as they unleash cascades of blastbeat and tremolo, culminating with Davies and, quite unexpectedly, drummer Josh Andrews both charging into the audience to finish that track off in the midst of the moshing. “Wounds upon My Skin” and “Stabbing Spiders” then provide some of the most intense musical beatings of the set yet, concluding these festivities in fantastic style, with the crowd now fully in Pupil Slicer’s faces, and Davies savouring every bit of it, ripping through the finale with her tongue out in best rockstar fashion. This band’s return to Denmark cannot come soon enough!

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Setlist:

  • 1. Martyrs
  • 2. Husk
  • 3. L’Appel du Vide
  • 4. Vilified
  • 5. Worthless
  • 6. Thermal Runaway
  • 7. Interlocutor
  • 8. Mirrors Are More Fun Than Television
  • 9. Collective Unconscious
  • 10. Wounds Upon My Skin
  • 11. Stabbing Spiders

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