Sadistic Intent

support Sijjin + Artificial Brain
author AP date 12/07/22 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

High summer is not prime time for concerts in Denmark, so one has to take what one is offered. One of the few shows happening in July was the One Day of Death event organised by Kill-Town Bookings as a way to build anticipation for its main event in the beginning of September: Kill-Town Death Fest 2022. And knowing the sharp eye the booking agency has for bringing in lesser known, yet always intriguing underground extreme metal acts, this seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to get a taste of what the actual festival is like, having never attended it myself. So onwards to Pumpehuset and its fantastic Byhaven urban garden I went, eager yet also completely oblivious to what I should be expecting…

All photos courtesy of Philip Onyx


Artificial Brain

Despite losing a lot of their instruments to the baggage handling chaos afflicting many of the European airports currently, Long Island, NY’s technical death metal unit Artificial Brain arrive on stage more or less on time, wielding an armoury of borrowed axes, including a lefty eight-string guitar from which the lowest, F# string has been removed. Kicking off with “Celestial Cyst” off their third and latest full-length album, which is a self-titled offering, the New Yorkers immediately expose themselves as fans of Blood Incantation and that band’s so-called cosmic death metal style. Its ringing lead melody provides an early warning of things to come — this is not going to be a barrage of dime-a-dozen barrage of old-school material, but rather, a glimpse into the future of a genre that has found new horizons to explore at last. Indeed, it is often only the guttural growls and unearthly shrieks of stand-in vocalist Mike Paparo (of Inter Arma) that keep songs like “Parasite Signal” and “Insects and Android Eyes” stuck in the roots of death metal, with the rest of the soundscape taken up by ambient and nigh ethereal sounds.

That is not to say that Artificial Brain’s music is wanting heaviness though; in fact, their music is afforded extra oomph in the live setting, with the bass lines of Samuel Smith and the drum patterns of Keith Abrami ensuring there is plenty of groove to bang your head to even as the very idea of rhythm guitar is absconded. The group’s demeanour on stage is not wild by any means; the impossibly technical arrangements demand the full, undivided attention of the four instrumental musicians. But their performance is still captivating, not least by virtue of the imposing presence of the aforementioned Paparo. His expressive use of arms, his flushed face, and his incessant headbanging and windmilling exude pure passion, and when “Static Shattering” off the band’s 2017 sophomore outing “Infrared Horizon” eventually brings their show to its conclusion with a spectacular bass riff, and guitars that wail like signals from outer space and seem to fall in and out of time with the rhythm at will, the audience both looks and sounds enthralled by this first ever live appearance by Artificial Brain on European soil. And thus we are left to wait for their return for a headlining show…

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Sijjin

Classic. That is probably the most appropriate word to describe Sijjin — both from the musical and the aesthetic perspective. Battle vests and B.C. Rich axes, and blackened thrash metal chops delivered at a breakneck velocity join in unholy matrimony as this Berlin-resident trio unleash blasphemies such as “Daemon Blessex” and “Dagger of a Thousand Deaths” from their 2021 sophomore offering “Sumerian Promises” unto us, with a hellbent look adorning of bassist and vocalist Malte Gericke, guitarist Ekaitz Garmendia, and drummer Iván Hernández. These three musicians clearly mean business; their very mantra seems to be one of full speed ahead, come whatever may! And although, honestly, the group’s unflinching conformance to this formula means that their concert is sorely lacking variety, it is often easy to forget about this deficiency thanks to the vicious shredding and myriad blazing guitar solos that Garmendia manages to rip out of his instrument during the set. “Man, this guy can play guitar, huh?", Gericke dryly states after the titular “Angel of the Eastern Gate” off the band’s 2019 début EP has been aired by these three violently windmilling musicians, while Hernández is restoring one of the cymbals that fell off due to the sheer force of his playing to his drum kit. And that really is the essence of Sijjin’s concert here: intense and completely unhinged, even if the likes of “White Mantras Bleed from Black Magic” and “Unchain the Ghost” to eventually slow things down and expose a couple of infectious grooves amidst the onslaught near the end. It is a fierce performance full of blinding ability by the three musicians, but if Sijjin hope to break out of the deepest underground in which they reside, they really have to think about adding some hooks to their otherwise convincing salvoes.

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Sadistic Intent

It is the mark of a trve kvlt band never to have released a full-length album despite existing for no less than 35 years. Yes, Sadistic Intent from Los Angeles, CA are the very epitome of an underground outfit, spewing satanic filth galore, yet also taking every opportunity to introduce some catchiness to their mix of black, death, and thrash metal. The riffs of guitarists Rick Cortez and Ernesto Bueno are played with a merciless, savaging tone, and the vocals of the bass-wielding frontman Bay Cortez sounds like pure antipathy in tracks like “Funerals Obscure” off the band’s 1997 EP “Ancient Black Earth”, driving many an attendee into flashing their mosh moves in the pit that quickly opens just in front of the stage. Bay’s demeanour is a frontman worthy; every word he spits out seems to be accompanied by drips of venom, just as he puts his entire body into conveying the blasphemous lyrics for which Sadistic Intent is known. And like Sijjin before them, the group’s music is riddled with dizzying musical exploits like the squealing, Slayer-school thrash licks in “Condemned to Misery” that leave the audience — yours truly included — gasping for breath. There is more variety here than in Sijjin’s set as well, divided across both blindingly intense thrashers and eerie, black metal influenced pieces that allow the dual leads of Ernesto and Rick to bleed through and conjure the atmosphere that was missing in the Berlin band’s set. Sadistic Intent’s drummer Arthur Mendiola also has a penchant for toying with sudden, arresting shifts in tempo, further diversifying the band’s extreme metal palette. Still, I must admit that while this L.A. outfit is convincing as f**k in the live setting, that special something… that additional edge that might set them apart from the host of other, similar artists never seems to manifest itself, leaving me to eventually conclude that his has been a rock solid, but never breathtaking showing from these old-timers.

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