Scream For Xmas Fest

support The Psyke Project + Iron + Redwood Hill + Ajuna + Gestapolis + Halshug
author PP date 13/12/13 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

Leave it to the guys from The Psyke Project when you want to have an event with a little more flair than the ordinary. Dubbed 'Scream For Xmas Fest', the band had in collaboration with True Believer booking and KB18 designed a brutal, crusty, metallic celebration of Christmas that would be so much more than just six hardcore/metal bands tearing it apart on stage. For starters, there is no stage; all bands are playing on the floor amongst the crowd for maximum chaos and impact. Secondly, the event is kickstarted with an outdoor bar in pouring rain, where "way too strong Glögg" is served alongside Schnapps and free beer outside. Thirdly, they have enlisted yours truly, AP, and Redwood Hill's Marco to turn the knobs behind the DJ booth for the entirety of the night to ensure for appropriate pre-live, in between band, and after party music. There's probably so much more that was happening which I wasn't able to notice due to my DJ / live review duties, but what the hell. Everyone is in high spirits throughout the night, and it can safely be called a raging success all around. For your reading pleasure, we've also reviewed all of the bands that joined us for a celebration of brutal Christmas.

Halshug

Halshug

With a band name as graphic as Halshug (which translates to decapitate), crust hardcore is not the first style to pop into my mind as I study the program for the night. But such is their chosen path, and so the proceedings are initiated with a fairly standard take on the genre, with heavily chord based songs delivered at breakneck speed, one after the other, by a trio who look appropriately pissed off. There's the occasional riff bit or solo to diversify the assault, and the fourth song aired even manages to remind me somewhat of Bad Religion's brilliant "Punk Rock Song" with its markedly slower pace and catchy riff. The fifth song, too, impresses with a Converge-style lead championing its blinding intensity. But what is the main selling point with Halshug is that they play their music with the utmost professionalism, and extremely tight. They cannot claim many points for originality, but for what they are, Halshug pull off their music better than most.

6
AP

Gestapolis

Gestapolis

Out of the almost 200 live bands I've seen this year (no exaggeration), Gestapolis might be the most brutal one. Immediately upon entering the stage we are treated to a barrage of uncompromising noise in the form of visceral grindcore with hardcore elements embedded within. Their singer is screaming senselessly into the faces of the crowd near the front, even breaking into pig squeals on occasion, as well as kneeling down to fortify his scream even further. It's a very crusty set that's best described as 'aggressive as fuck' for the lack of a better expression, and the whole thing feels like your body is forced through a cheese grater type of an experience. Very intense.

7
PP

Ajuna

Ajuna

Since the first time that I watched Ajuna approximately two years ago, much and more has changed: (1) vocalist Anders Andersen no longer behaves like a psycho on a cocaine rush, (2) the style of music, once influenced significantly by hardcore, has transformed almost fully into modern atmospheric black metal, and (3) the band have grown tremendously in terms of their song-writing talent. For much of tonight's set - played on the floor - Andersen is to be found on stage on his own, growling and shrieking from behind the drummer, still managing to look menacing without making those crazed charges into the audience that he was once accustomed to. What this translates to for the band collectively is that the spotlight no longer rests solely on him; a welcome change, which allows the instrumental channels of the band as much, if not more prominence. Ajuna have written a collection of magnificent songs for their debut LP "Prisoners of the Sun", which was released recently; full of evocative, introspective and mournful melodies that send the mind wandering; and I derive great pleasure from shutting my eyes here and there to take it all in. No, they may not be as intense a proposition live as they once were, but I feel this more reserved demeanor becomes them just as it becomes their music.

7
AP

Redwood hill

Redwood Hill

I've heard plenty of praise about Redwood Hill in the past, yet I've never had the chance to actually witness them live. It matches with what I've heard is their signature description: barren, droning post-metal landscapes, a sense of mystery attached to the band, as portrayed by their singer Marco who hides as much of his facial features into his hood as possible. The band engage in rhythmic headbanging that much resembles that of The Psyke Project during their slower passages, and practice their dark magic of post-metal that is always just about to explode from its confines. It's really a shame that people are talking loudly through the quiet atmospheric parts during "Tristesse", ruining parts of the experience that is meant to be captivating and enthralling for those into the set, but it's Friday night and people are starting to become drunk, so what can you do, other than decry irritation afterward. Their last song is dedicated to crusty hardcore group No Fealty whom Redwood Hill are replacing tonight, and by the time the song finishes, we've been treated to a complex, rich soundscape that has the band vary between standing still during atmospherics and TPP style crashing-around during the crazier parts.

8
PP

Iron

Iron

As the lone international band on the bill (they hail from Malmö, Sweden), Iron do their utmost to create an immediate impression. Vocalist Erik is roaming in the audience from the word Go!, screaming his sociopolitical ideas into our faces and doing his all to incite a riot. Describing themselves as a "sex positive, queer, vegan straight edge, and vehemently anti-capitalist" hardcore band, their set is full of vitriol, with rhetoric à la "If you have something against homosexuals, this is not your scene, so fuck off!" eliciting thunderous applause from tonight's populous audience. I am personally not the greatest fan of this crusty, old school hardcore stuff, but its message is as important as it is easy to identify with. And when you've got a vocalist as enthusiastic as Erik, as full of intoxicating energy, there never really was a chance that Iron weren't going to stage a decent performance.

7
AP

The Psyke Project

The Psyke Project

I've seen TPP play enough times to notice a significant difference between intimate shows and bigger shows in terms of setlist. Whenever the band is on stage either behind a barrier or otherwise elevated above the crowd, they opt for their droning songs that allow them to create a mythical ambiance at the venue as they slowly creep through their songs one by one in uniform rhythmic pulsation. They are good in this formation. Whenever they are at smaller venues, and especially here at KB18 where they are playing on the floor amongst the crowd, they are absolutely in their element. From the moment they kick off the party, there are limbs and bodies flying everywhere. Glimpses of singer Martin can be seen crashing into the semi-circular crowd formation at all sides, whilst bassist Bono is busy doing the same in the other corner. There's total chaos, an every man for himself type of an atmosphere as the crowd is about to kill themselves in what must be one of the most intense mosh pits KB18 has seen to date. Yes, it calms down a little halfway through their set, but how could it not? Those opening 20 minutes show the kind of sheer brilliance and bonding experience that The Psyke Project show is like at its very best. There's schnapps on stage, there's a girl fight in a big circle pit, Martin rushes across the crowd to grab people into participating into the pit, and there's a general sense that chaos is going to ensue throughout the set from start to finish. Later on, when "45 Tears" is aired from one of the old albums, fans surround Martin and in unison scream the lyrics to the song at the front together with him, before the band collapses on their amps and instruments in a majestic crash at the end of the set. I stand by what I have said for many, many years now: The Psyke Project is the best live band in Denmark. Still waiting for a band to prove me otherwise.

PP

Photos by: Jacob Dinesen

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