Entombed

support Essence
author AP date 11/05/12 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

Some would say there are better ways to spend a Friday night than watching and listening to old school death and thrash metal, drinking cheap bottles of gold beer, but it is nonetheless my intention as I set out for my favorite capital city venue. Sure I could be in the meat packing district sipping gin and tonics with the hipster crowd, but when the choice stands between obscure indie/electro/dubstep and metal, there rarely is a shred of doubt in my mind which I'd rather be listening to - and especially not when there are two fantastic bands such as these on the bill.

Essence

Essence have been busy of late, holed up at the Abyss Studio with its famed owner Peter Tägtgren to record their second album - the follow-up to last year's critically acclaimed "Lost in Violence". Needless to say, many a fan, including myself, has anxiously been waiting to hear the results of the collaboration, so when it was announced a few days prior to tonight that not only would the thrash metal crew be supporting here tonight, they would also be using the opportunity to brandish their new songs. With the exception of "Trace of Terror" and "Blood Culture", the setlist is composed entirely of material fresh from the oven, and despite a somewhat clumsy beginning that probably owes in equal parts to the generous swig of vodka vocalist/guitarist Lasse Skov takes, the lack of experience playing the new stuff live as well as its complexity, and an initially hesitant crowd, Essence once again demonstrate beyond all doubt why they should be considered one of the most talented bands in the country, and one its few real candidates for international exposure and fame.

There simply isn't another band in Denmark that can pull off songs this difficult so tightly - our photographer Rasmus Ejlersen actually refuses to believe that the band is not using playback before Skov makes a negligible rhythmic mistake during "Final Eclipse". What is even more baffling is that much like the great Jimi Hendrix, Skov and his compatriot Mark Drastrup have little need of pedals; they're perfectly capable of producing the effect sounds with their fingers, palms and picks to produce unbelievable solo work. But as though the skill of musicianship was not impressive enough on its own, the band then delivers an absolute monster of a track in "Gemstones", blurring the boundaries between the various extremes of the metal genre and demonstrating a maturity and song-writing prowess beyond their age and experience. Heavy as fuck, yet instantly memorable, this progressive masterpiece looks to become the defining piece on the new album - that is, of course, provided that Essence don't have something even grander in store for us that they are holding back until the album release later this year.

Once the crowd warms up to the band during the familiar "Blood Culture", which due to time constraints is performed without the signature bass solo courtesy of session bassist Rasmus Munch Nielsen (of Caro), its reaction grows exponentially stronger until band and audience alike are in a state of euphoria. Were it not for the tiny glitches that occur during the five new songs played tonight - which, to be fair, is totally understandable considering how new they are - chances are this show would go down as the best Essence has ever played. It certainly gives us a lot to look forward to.

8

Entombed

By the time the Swedish legends appear on stage, Beta is brimming with people, sold out as the show is. Entombed nearly a quarter of a century of live experience to distill into their performance, so it is hardly a surprise they approach the task with the utmost professionalism, staging an energetic show that fully embraces the intimate setting of the venue. Upfront, a moshpit is operating tirelessly, while in the back the older and more grizzly metal dudes nod along in unanimous approval.

If there is one thing that does not speak to me as clearly as to most of the crowd, it is the music of Entombed itself, as much of the material draws from to a rather limited set of ideas. The songs epitomize metal with a huge M, providing plenty of headbangable chug, irresistible grooves and crushing heaviness, but when placed next to each other, there really is very little to separate one song from the next. There are a number of exceptions to the rule of course, such as as the magnificent "Damn Deal Done", "Wolverine Blues" and "Chief Rebel Angel", and despite these blues inspired bangers providing the absolute highlights of the evening, there is no question that what Entombed muster up tonight is still a formidable concert - well worth the bucks paid by most to see it. Vocalist L.G. Petrov in particular makes a solid impression as a true entertainer, his level of energy belying his age.

But without a doubt the most interesting aspect to watching a band like Entombed is the authenticity; to the younger members of the crowd, such as myself, the experience could be likened to listening to one's grandfather telling anecdotes and stories from his youth - though with the cozy fireplace, ancient rocking chair and pipe replaced with well worn, patched denim vests, cargo pants and a microphone pumped with reverb. So even though I personally find it difficult to maintain my undivided attention given my lack of familiarity with the band's material, it is easy to see that for the vast majority of people here, the show is a nostalgic backward glance at the good ol' time when metal was played by men and had nothing pretty or beautiful about it.

8

Setlist:

  • Living Dead
  • Like This with the Devil
  • Serpent Speech
  • Out of Hand
  • Just as Sad
  • Serpent Saints
  • I for an Eye
  • Supposed to Rot
  • To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth
  • Stranger Aeons
  • Damn Deal Done
  • Left Hand Path
  • Chief Rebel Angel
  • Night of the Vampire
  • Say It in Slugs
  • Wolverine Blues

Photos courtesy of Rasmus Ejlersen

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