TesseracT

support Lorna Shore
author AP date 07/08/22 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Though they make for an odd pair on paper, the double featuring of New Jersey’s hyped deathcore unit Lorna Shore and the British progressive metal visionaries of TesseracT has nonetheless drawn a maximum capacity audience into the familiar confines of Copenhagen’s old water pumping station Pumpehuset on this warm and pleasant, late summer evening. Fans of the two bands seem to be neatly divided into their own distinct cliques, with the former’s following taking up the prime moshing positions upfront to begin with, the latter’s fanbase standing in the rear half, and those of us with an affinity for both artists occupying the middle. It is a curious sight, underlining just how different these two acts really are, yet it also feels like the perfect opportunity for the respective camps to broaden their horizons as far as modern, pathfinding metal goes. I, often known to be a decrier of deathcore, am very curious to hear what Lorna Shore has to offer at least, considering the heaps of praise that various critics have been throwing their way since the release of their third studio album “Immortal” in 2020. And so I position myself in my optimal place — right next to the bar — and prepare to have my taste challenged and, hopefully, expanded.

All photos courtesy of Lykke Nielsen

Lorna Shore

Chants of “LOR-NA-SHORE, LOR-NA-SHORE!" fill the venue as the lights are dimmed and the five musicians that comprise this band emerge silently from backstage. There is no fanfare here; the opening track “To the Hellfire” from their 2021 EP “…And I Return to Nothingness” is unleashed without warning, its intense barrage of blastbeats and the famous spectrum of extreme metal vocals mastered by frontman Will Ramos quickly encompassing and overwhelming the venue. “Open this s**t up!”, he roars in something of a cliché, and as track two “Of the Abyss” off that same EP takes over, the moshing has well and truly started. To be sure, these are standard deathcore tropes, but as the sound mix gradually improves, revealing the brainchildren of lead guitarist Adam De Micco in their full glory, I begin to understand what it is that separates Lorna Shore from the throng of other artists practicing in this popular genre. His style of playing is truly singular; his lead melodies in tracks like “Death Portrait” carry a uniquely esoteric tone, and often seem to follow an entirely different time signature than the rest of the instruments, resulting in a mysterious and captivating atmosphere that seems to bend and manipulate the fabric of the universe itself into a kaleidoscopic canvas that slowly envelops the audience. Once I notice it, I cannot take my eyes off De Micco’s nimble fretwork... which is just as well, considering that Lorna Shore is not exactly the most visually exhilarating live act there is.

Ramos cuts an imposing figure as he stomps across the stage and hovers menacingly over the frontmost fans, but overall, the band’s performance is more rigour and focus than unbridled energy. It does of course mean that Lorna Shore deliver precise renditions of tracks like the brand new “Cursed to Die” (taken from their upcoming album “Pain Remains”, which is due out in October), and that their skill of musicianship is made painstakingly obvious. But while the crowd is doing its part in generating mayhem inside the venue, the somewhat reserved and introverted demeanour of the musicians sans the zealous Ramos, prevents the concert from reaching a truly spectacular level. Be that as it may, once the epic final track “Into the Earth” has rung out, I have well and truly been made a convert, and proceed to enthusiastically explain to my concert buddy how this Jersey crew is, in fact, redefining the deathcore genre and pushing its envelope long at last.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. To the Hellfire
  • 2. Of the Abyss
  • 3. …And I Return to Nothingness
  • 4. Death Portrait
  • 5. King ov Deception
  • 6. Sun//Eater
  • 7. Cursed to Die
  • 8. Into the Earth

TesseracT

There are no chants to welcome back TesseracT for their first concert in Denmark since 2019; in fact, the crowd is visibly thinner now despite the clock showing no later than 21:30 when the Britons walk onto the stage. Their set begins with an abrupt eruption of the first verse in “Concealing Fate, Part 1 - Acceptance”, thus foregoing the excellent djent riff housed by the intro and causing some annoyance on the part of yours truly. I love that riff — why do they never play it? It seems like I’m alone with this sentiment, however, as both the audience and the five musicians are soon engaged in synchronised and nigh trancelike headbanging, with vocalist Daniel Tompkins also pulling some caricatural, robotic movements to the tune of drummer Jay Postones’ rhythm. As ever, Tompkins comes across as a very charismatic and present frontman, ignoring the audience loss like the professional he is and instead exerting total control over those who wisely decided to remain for this second act. His calls for a wall of death during the final segment of “Concealing Fate, Part 2 - Deception” are met without question, and the moshpit continues to bubble and boil all through the following “Concealing Fate, Part 3 - The Impossible” as well.

Indeed, TesseracT are showcasing the best aspects of themselves, from the crystal clear sound mix, through the tightly played music, to the intensity with with each of the five musicians — and especially bassist and backing vocalist Amos Williams — performs. All of this is heightened by a moody, elegant lighting display that lends a spacey atmosphere to the concert, yet I cannot shake the feeling that I’m watching a meticulously streamlined product rather than a show brimming with passion. I can’t put a finger on why this is though, and my skepticism is even briefly sidelined by the arrival of a brand new and as-of-yet untitled cut featuring a funky, groovy and bass-heavy intro, which, to my surprise, has a strong Primus vibe about it. Those bass licks flow neatly into the subsequent “Dystopia” (taken from 2015’s “Polaris”), their punch accentuated by Tompkins’ spirited shadow boxing, until the rarely played “Beneath My Skin” off 2018’s “Sonder” services the diehard TesseracT fans in attendance here. For me, this is the standout segment in the band’s one-hour concert — an impression underscored by the setlist staple “Of Mind - Nocturne” off 2013’s “Altered State” that follows. On record, it ranks among my favourites as well, but I would almost prefer it if Tompkins stopped trying to (unsuccessfully) mimic the falsetto highs of former vocalist Ashley O’Hara in it and made the song his own instead.

Glancing at all the people enthusiastically jumping up and down around me as “Juno” is bringing the show to its conclusion, I catch myself wondering whether I’m just grumpy mood tonight, given that I’m clearly not feeling as enamoured by TesseracT’s efforts as the majority of the audience here. But then it dawns on me that I’m actually in an exceptionally good mood; that TesseracT have delivered much more captivating performances on Danish soil before, and played with much more nerve. This has felt more like a festival appearance than a genuine headlining set — professionally played, yet lacking some of that all-important nerve that will lift a concert into a higher dimension.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Concealing Fate, Part 1: Acceptance
  • 2. Concealing Fate, Part 2: Deception
  • 3. Concealing Fate, Part 3: The Impossible
  • 4. (Unknown new song)
  • 5. Dystopia
  • 6. Beneath My Skin
  • 7. Of Mind - Nocturne
  • 8. King
  • 9. Juno

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