support Winds Of Plague + War From A Harlots Mouth + Iwrestledabearonce + We Set The Sun
author AP date 14/05/11 venue The Rock, Copenhagen, DEN

As its moniker suggests, the annual "Mosh Lives" tour serves a single purpose: to unload the maximum number of breakdowns onto venues across Europe over a month. And this year's line-up certainly epitomises the concept, headlined by the veritable kings of shallow mosh music, Emmure, as well as a host of four other, similar-minded bands. Having seen all but one, We Set the Sun, live at festivals and other gigs before and being lulled into a bore almost every time, the prospect of watching them all, one after the other, seemed an impossibly trying task.

We Set The Sun

First in line is the only band out of the five tonight to feature traditional clean vocals, and the second to hail from Germany. Clearly this band entertains a solid fanbase in their hometown of Hamburg, since at least six such devout followers have traveled the five hour journey to be here. But it is difficult to fathom why We Set the Sun even exists, such is the horror that confronts me on stage. Entering with some obscure electro-rap ravaging in the background, We Set the Sun are the latest development in the inexplicably growing popularity of eurodance-meets-metalcore, crunk, and other things that need to be destroyed. In fact, the only redeeming factors in the haphazard, frankly amateurish display of what happens when a band writes music on a computer and has it produced to perfection without regard for reality, are guitarist and backing vocalist Thomas Reichelt, whose clean vocals thankfully show at least some promise, and frontman Fabian Jansen, whose demeanor on stage is eerily similar to Asking Alexandria vocalist Danny Worsnop's when he was still on drugs. But because the material sounds like it was plastered together in Audacity out of various incoherent guitar and electronica parts, the result is a total disaster - but one nonetheless lapped up by distressingly old-looking German fanboys. My honest opinion, sans the vaguely interesting stage presence? Utter garbage.



What makes Iwrestledabearonce such a step up despite the overwhelming strangeness of their music, is that they deliver it with a hint of irony - not to mention eruptions of Dillinger Escape Plan like madness. Watching the petite Krysta Cameron contort her fragile voice into a psychotic scream and growl amidst wildly noodling guitar leads and disco cheese is an absurd spectacle in itself, but when drummer Mike Montgomery backs it up with a funky beat, with one stick between his teeth and pumping a cymbal stand in the air, it is impossible not to crack into hysterical laughter. Nothing about Iwrestledabearonce makes any sense, has any sort of structural coherence, or provides any compositional satisfaction, but they are damn entertaining to watch, and the instrumental prowess underlying the music is undeniable. Watching Steven Bradley tap 'round the neck while loading his output with ever stranger effects is show enough on its own, and the bewildered crowd is a testimony that no matter how ridiculous Iwrestledabearonce are, and how little musical integrity they have, their shows are always a mutual blast.


War From A Harlots Mouth

As War From a Harlots Mouth enters to deliver the third support set, the aforementioned German contingent is, once again, ecstatic. It stands in stark contrast with the light-hearted approach witnessed just before, reinstating a serious tone and attitude. Where this band thrives best are undoubtedly the countless tuneful jazz interludes that dot the songs; however, much of the rest resides in generic hardcore/grind hybrids with - you guessed it - plenty of breakdowns and indecipherable noise. It really is a shame that a band as obviously capable as War From a Harlots Mouth waste their talents on meaningless chug; the few glimpses of experimentation that appear in newer produce from the recent "MMX" album are welcome breaks in an otherwise monotonous blur of songs that nonetheless appear to go down well with a crowd now visibly more intoxicated and bloodthirsty. As such, one cannot blame the Germans for lack of crowd control. But on the other hand, the band's largely static stage presence does no justice to the violence of the music. It might not be as utterly dismal as We Set the Sun proved to be (and had a much less impressive sonic repertoire as well), but I struggle to remain interested in this decent, but not great, display of signature German metallic aggression.


Winds Of Plague

Things become even more serious when Winds of Plague conquer the stage. Much of the crowd's attention is initially diverted to the left side of the stage, where photogenic synth pianoso Alana Potocnik is set up, but when it becomes obvious that Alana's role in the band is no more exciting than delivering haunting ambiance and some solo-ish mini sections whilst subtly headbanging behind her instrument, the allure suddenly dwindles. Musically, Winds of Plague differentiate themselves in the line-up with the least hardcore, and most metallic sound, an impression no doubt strengthened by the symphonic element. But just like War From a Harlots Mouth, there isn't much to get at in the band's lax stage presence. Although vocalist Johnny Plague is an imposing persona on stage, his mundane walking from side to side fails to bring to life the terror contained in the band's music. The drummer , Art Cruz, is, of course, a chapter of his own, unleashing a deluge of thundering blastbeats, pummeling double pedals and intensive cymbals, but where the sonic impression is one of a mighty metal machine, the remaining musician's disengaged attitude fails to cash out, resulting in another decent, if largely unsurprising performance tonight.



Were it up to me, the existence of bands in the vein of Emmure should be made illegal, or the undiscriminatory slaughtering of them acceptable. But since I must conform to the law currently in place, instead of dosing the stage with gasoline and eliminating Emmure once and for all with the flick of a lighter, I settle for watching them from upstairs, in denial. The music, when played live, sounds even worse than it does on record (a number of the songs from recent album "Speaker of the Dead" were, in fact, almost decent), which is to say that rather than sounding like breakdowns with occasional break-ups, Emmure's set sounds like breakdowns, and breakdowns only. During the set I find myself claiming to be able to play every Emmure song and being asked by a colleague why, then, am I not in the position of Emmure, and the answer is simple: I don't want to be there. If the cost of success is to surrender all signs of integrity and dumb down the music so that the only way that it can possibly be enjoyed is in the pit, through slam dancing, then I would rather be a nobody.

Having said that - while the "music" of Emmure grinds my gear to no relent - it would be a mistake to claim that the band has no live appeal. If we look past the fact that vocalist Frankie Palmeri looks and acts like Fred Durst - i.e. a wild gorilla - and growl-raps lyrics best summarised by those found in "Drug Dealer Friend" ("I wanna watch you suck his dick / I know you fucking love it, bitch"), which somehow constitute exactly half of the lyrics in the entire song, Emmure do actually know how to present themselves before a crowd. Palmeri has much of the lower floor in his palm throughout the set, exerting an impressive authority over the venue, which responds with a sizable moshpit stretching from left to right. The fans in attendance are not here to be blown off their feet by complexity, but by sheer volume. Emmure boil their show down to absolute simplicity, and even if they don't quite know how to write a functioning verse, substituting them with breakdowns instead, they do know how to kick up a racket and incite people to bash each other to death.

So if we discount dignity, composition and riffs, all of which are non-existent entities in Emmure's music, it is actually possible to enjoy this band by understanding it at face value - as stupid and immature modern day Limp Bizkit garbage designed for mass consumption by - excuse me - people with no regard for, or understanding of, aesthetics. It is entertaining enough to laugh at the band and the fans that attempt to defend this as music, and bob one's head along knowing that this is the lowest common denominator, so rather than bitch and moan about it, I drown myself in pints of beer and accept this idiocy as brainless B-entertainment.

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