-(16)-

support Inter Arma + Indian + Grime
author AP date 09/04/14 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

When it comes to underground metal, I will whole heartedly admit that Killtown Bookings tend to know what they're doing. With Roadburn Festival currently underway, many a treasure from the subterranean is touring on the continent, and sensing the opportunity, the Copenhagen based booking agency decided to stitch four of them together on a single eclectic bill of doom, sludge and post-metal, and cram them in the dingy, intimate confines of KB18 - which, together with Ungdomshuset, is probably the best venue to present music as murky as this.

All photos courtesy of Stefan thor Straten

Grime

Certainly true to their name, Grime from Shitaly (their words, not mine) kick these proceedings off in abysmal fashion, their grim, sludgy doom the perfect companion to their lyrics of drugs, suicide and despair. There are plenty of scratches, screeches and blasts of feedback peppering their barrage of low end chords in true underground style whilst any discernible melodies have been discarded; and as a result, it takes roughly three songs built from the same trudging sludge/doom formula to wear down my interest. There are no distinctive grooves even, and despite there being a certain intriguing augury to the fourth track, this stuff is much too repetitive and unwavering in its style to really impress.

Grime air two new songs tonight near the end of their set before the groovy "Giving Up" concludes their set, and while at first the only change seems to be that these songs are possibly even slower than older takes, there is a marginal improvement here with the incorporation of some atmospherics and tribal drumming in the first, and a menacing double pedal intro in the second, which suggests that perhaps in five or six albums' time, Grime will have transformed into a melodic doom band. They have no desire to be that, of course, but in always preferring the lower third of the guitar neck and punching out simple chords in predictable arrangements, the Italians will never win my vote for a band to keep an eye out on at least.

5

Indian

Indian aren't easy on the ear either, their droning, evil post-metal immediately sending my thoughts toward The Psyke Project, whose vocalist Martin Nielskov is incidentally stood right next to me. As I, he looks genuinely impressed by the loud, unsettling pummel unfolding before us, and I'm sure he sees some of himself in guitarist/vocalist Will Lindsay. After ditching his guitar during one of the songs, the man looks positively possessed, contorting his face into ever more gruelling expressions, sticking out his tongue, collapsing to his knees, and eventually raising his arms toward the audience whilst positioning himself just far enough from the mic so as to not get any amplification to deliver what looks every bit like a satanic sermon, or summoning.

Indeed, the best way to describe Indian is to imagine The Psyke Project at their blackest and most menacing - and then take that one step further by introducing an element of black metal (particularly in the dual vocals of Lindsay and the other guitarist Dylan O'Toole). Their performance is perhaps not as chaotic as TPP's tend to be (to a large extent though, this is the fault of the docile audience), but it reeks of the same sort of brutality and madness, and borders even on the deranged during the closing passage to "Rape" off last year's "From All Purity" LP as Lindsay & O'Toole repeatedly scream a duo of words ending in "rape!" with their instruments whining with feedback. Indian draw the biggest crowd tonight, and for good reason; this is magnificently harrowing stuff.

8

Inter Arma

Inter Arma begin their set on a much lighter note than the previous two acts, with a lengthy instrumental post-rock song during which vocalist Mike Paparro is doing his best to rile up the thinning audience with a profuse amount of stage moves and headbanging. This proggy, cinematic, and highly melodic approach stands in stark contrast with the netherworldly dirge we've just watched, but when the Deafheaven/Wolves in the Throne Room inspired second song ("The Survival Fire", perhaps?) eventually starts and Mike Paparro unleashes his shrill vocals and maniacal, bulging eyes, things immediately take a turn for the darker.

Without a doubt the most eclectic band on the bill, for the duration of the next 35 minutes or so Inter Arma plough their way through sludge, black metal and post-metal with incessant vigour, guitarists Trey Dalton and Steven Russell, bassist Joe Kerkes and drummer T.J. Childers all contributing to what is one of those shows that isn't spectacularly energetic, but still checks all the boxes for a lively, engaging performance. Above all, however, it is Paparro who sets the standard with a commanding, authoritative presence that reminds me of Job for a Cowboy's Jonny Davy. I am impressed, but not blown away.

-(16)-

-(16)-, who in the lead-up to this concert have been hailed as legendary sludge from California (they've been around since 1991, which I suppose warrants such a label), strike me instantly as one of those bands whose material requires familiarity to fully appreciate - at least at first. Their music is faster, traditional sludge metal, and as is appropriate to its swampy, drug drenched nature, the quartet's movements are drowsier, and somehow more hypnotic than those of the three previous bands. It feels right.

There is a no-nonsense feel to the proceedings and music alike as well - the typical birthmark of an old school band with plenty of years behind them - with guitarist Bobby Ferry and bassist Barney Firks letting the grooves do the talking. Firks' contributions in particular, so wonderfully prominent in the mix, border on the sublime, his endless torrent of smooth licks and bass riffs dominating the group's rhythmic foundation and indeed overall expression. He looks the part too, like someone beamed into present day from Woodstock '69, grooving in his own world like it's nobody's business, bathed in red light.

It is interesting to note that, with the exception of Firks, -(16)- perform in almost complete darkness, with a few extremely dim lights all but obscuring Ferry, drummer Dion Thurman and vocalist Cris Jerue. Whether or not this is normal, I couldn't say, but it does seem as though Jerue feels ill at ease: he appears to puke just before the beginning of the set, and looks about to do it again more than once throughout it. No matter though: as the concert progresses well past midnight, so does it grow better and better, and the 25-or-so people still here to watch them are understandably headbanging and cheering along with enthusiasm. An excellent performance by a band whose music I'll certainly be getting into based on what I've heard here tonight.

8

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