Monster Magnet

support Church Of Misery
author AP date 20/01/14 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

There's cause to celebrate despite Friday looking awfully distant on this frosty Monday evening: one of our most loyal readers, not to mention a good friend of mine, has returned from his navy duty in the Mediterranean just in time to make his way down from Jutland and watch this strong stoner rock bill from opposite coasts of the Pacific. It's one I've eagerly been looking forward to since Monster Magnet last visited us two years ago, so needless to say my expectations are high as the lights dim above an almost sold out audience and the evening's support act enters.

All photos by Philip B. Hansen

Church Of Misery

Japanese stoner-doom maestros Church of Misery enter the stage without ceremony and, true to tradition, without uttering a word. But who needs fanfare when you're loaded with riffs as eminent as these? Sleep may well be regarded as perhaps the ultimate stoner rock band, but even their stuff has trouble measuring up to the sizzling grooves that Tatsu Mikami (bass guitar) and Ikuma Kawabe dispense in the space of 45 minutes with no sign of relent. It isn't irregular that a band should impress me with rifftastic moments of grandeur; but to do so with as much consistency as Church of Misery requires extraordinary talent, and experience. I am lost in the moment, and devouring every second of it.

Of course, Church of Misery have more to them than otherworldly bass and guitar work, whether it be the roaring power and testosterone of vocalist Hideki Fukasawa (think Helhorse's Mikkel Wad Larsen for the most apt reference), or the way in which each member - even drummer Junji Narita - immerses himself into the band's psychopathic universe through expressive movement. They're in a world of their own, swaying to the groove and looking like mere vessels to their stories of serial murderers; and this passion translates to the audience as well, eyes shut and heads banging all around me. I haven't the familiarity with this band's discography to earmark higlights beyond track two "Brother Bishop (Gary Heidnik)", but rest assured, there are no weak periods to point out. It's loud, heavy and intense as fuck. Church of Misery deliver a stoner metal show of the highest standard, giving even a group as revered as Monster Magnet difficult conditions to further impress.

Monster Magnet

But Monster Magnet personally feel they've got an ace up the sleeve, plotting to blow us off our feet with a bold move. Once they've worked through "I Live Behind the Clouds", the title track and "Three Kingfishers" off last year's "Last Patrol" LP, it does not require a genius to decipher what the idea is tonight: they're to play that record from start to finish. Not the worst decision per se, as virtually all of the songs from it are garnished with my stamp of approval; but it's quite clear that most of tonight's attendees were expecting a more varied affair, given especially that when Monster Magnet last graced these pastures in the autumn of 2011, it was to the tune of their space odyssey "Dopes to Infinity" (1995).

Vocalist and occasional guitar chord-strummist Dave Wyndorf is his usual charistmatic self, endearing every man and woman inside the venue with the power (and, when needed, fragility) of his singing; his compatriots - guitarists Phil Caivano & Garrett Sweeny, bassist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella - look as reserved and... well, spaced out, as they tend to. But as the order of the proceedings dawns on more and more people, so does the amount of chatter in the room amplify (I myself must even admit to losing focus when Mr. Fukasawa appears at the bar, so that I can set the two of us up for a photo memento...), and really, I'd be lying if I didn't confess to a growing degree of boredom.

It's not that Monster Magnet don't play these songs with the expected level of skill and professionalism; it's that I, too, feel that it's about time we experienced some variety from this legendary outfit. With 9 studio albums, 3 EPs and 3 demos on their belt, there's plenty of outstanding material to choose from, and despite four such songs aired in the encore - the classics "Dopes to Infinity", "Look to Your Orb for the Warning", "Tractor" and "Space Lord" - I continue to be baffled at the persistent lack of picks from 2010's "Mastermind", which, in my opinion, contains a barrage of the perfect antidote to this band's otherwise trippy music: bombastic, no-nonsense hard rock bangers like "Bored with Sorcery" and "Gods and Punks".

Alas, I leave the venue with a pressing sense of disappointment, having expected so much and had so little given. And judging from the immediate surge of people toward the bars and wardrobe even before the inevitable encore is rolled out, I am not alone.

6

Setlist:

  • I Live Behind the Clouds
  • Last Patrol
  • Three Kingfishers
  • Paradise
  • Hallelujah
  • Mindless Ones
  • The Duke of Supernature
  • End of Time
  • Stay Tuned

--Encore--

  • Dopes to Infinity
  • Look to Your Orb for the Warning
  • Tractor
  • Space Lord

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