support Redwood Hill + Fortress
author AP date 14/09/13 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

Better late than never: although Barricade released their debut full-length "Terrorlight" already in June, it was not until this mild evening in September that it was to be celebrated with a free show featuring three very different Danish rock/metal bands. I am pleased to find a reasonable amount of people bustling inside the venue for once shortly after my arrival, and having found "Terrorlight" an exciting release by virtue of its fine combination of sludge and hardcore, I raise my expectations for what is sure to be a very decent showing.

All photos by Philip B. Hansen


In charge of initiating the proceedings is the least metallic outfit on the bill, which is perhaps a wise choice given the predominantly uplifting nature of Fortress' music. For those not in the know, Fortress draw heavy influence from classic hard rock, and pepper it with a tongue-in-cheek attitude that also bleeds through their garb (or rather, lack thereof) and demeanor on stage: the foursome are all topless, and wearing one of boxer-shorts, denim hot pants or sprayed-on leather trousers, and look every bit as deliberately goofy as I remember from the previous time I caught them live (in Pumpehuset's summer garden during Distortion). Thankfully the music they play is still serious enough to avoid the joke rock stigma, and to a fairly recent devotee to the heritage rock movement the profuse amount of groove packed riffs, blues influenced solos and fuzzy guitar tones strokes my interests almost as gracefully as bands like Graveyard and Witchcraft do. The latter, in particular, seems to have played a significant role in the shaping of Fortress' sound, as is evident from songs like the magnificent "Full Moon Ritual" from the recent "Of Bones" EP, by which the initial mix problems have been sorted out to a satisfactory degree. Said issues at the beginning of the set, however, mean that one has great difficulty in discerning exactly what songs Fortress have selected for the occasion, but in the most professional manner, Fortress do not allow their frustration to spill into the efficacy of their performance. It's a fine show, but I am missing some of the energy that so enamored me when the band provided support for Pet the Preacher at Beta earlier this year.


Redwood Hill

The atmosphere grows pitch black as Redwood Hill - one of the most exciting metal bands in Denmark right now, if you ask me - take the stage. Without uttering a word, the group proceed to crush our jovial mood with their signature brooding dissonance, ominous tremolo riffs and harrowing Scando-black metal-style growling, and engulf this barren venue in total darkness. Since the first time I experienced them live, Redwood Hill have begun focusing more heavily on the mood their music instills, and less on a frenzied demeanor on stage. They still collapse into a maelstrom when the music demands it, such as during the Psyke Project-esque breakdowns of "Dybbuk", but what is now most impressive about them is the consistent, expertly designed visual aesthetic that gives the band an almost inhuman character; as if they're mere vessels for the conveyance of an idea through the clefs and tones of their music.

My mind wanders toward imagery of dark, winter bitten forests, a toneless grey ocean whipping a stony shoreline with immense white-caps, and shadows cast by rays of moonlight through cracks in the curtain, dancing in the corner of a dusty, forlorn log cabin. It would of course look even more impressive with dry ice and light behind the band only, but even without such circumstances, Redwood Hill remain a genuinely evocative band to watch in the live setting (and listen to on record, mind you). There is little movement crowd-side, owing most likely to most people descending into the sort of trance I describe above, and the band's avoidance of interaction with the audience, preferring instead to segue from one song to another without pause - ebbing and flowing from "Aten" through "Tristesse", "Applewhite" (a brand new song, to receive its online premiere soon, I am told), "September" and "Poseidon", and concluding with the nihilistic refrain of "Like rocks into rivers / Like trails in the dust" in "Dybbuk" - only strengthens the disconnect they wish to create between the music and themselves as persons. Indeed, Redwood Hill do not wish to be personified; their desire seems to be that the band is the music, and the music alone.



With Barricade, the concept is almost the polar opposite. Their music - an aggressive, intense fusion of sludge metal and elements from hardcore - demands an energetic response from the crowd, and as though under the command of bassist/vocalist Jonathan Reinhardt, who makes frequent surges toward the front of the audience with a possessed gleam in his eyes and an enraged expression painted across his face, riling it up to produce the sort of response he wants. The show contains all of the characteristics of a release party, with band and crowd melting into a flurry of sweat and movement at once when "Traitor's Trail" opens the proceedings with a furious assault of thick, two-pronged drumming and a mixture of growling and yelling courtesy of Mr. Reinhardt and his colleague Mr. Heston on guitar/vocals. Unfortunately Reinhardt's contributions go largely unheard during these first few minutes as the volume of his microphone is either much too low in the mix, or it is turned of entirely, but even so this excellent track loses none of its urgency.

In the 45 minutes that follow, we are treated to the remaining songs off the group's debut album "Terrorlight" in a mixed order, performed with an excess of energy that stimulates a riotous response upfront. The unique setup of two vocalists and two drummers that enamored me so on the record works extremely well in the live setting, too, pushing KB18's sound system to its limits with a mix that oozes testosterone, and adds even more weight to standout moments such as "Abyss of Kain" (which recalls the darkness of Mastodon's "Leviathan" album) and the title track. And combined with the enthusiasm with which each of the five members performs (the stage is a constant maelstrom of movement, headbanging and screams of encouragement toward the crowd, with even the two drummers leaping to their feet here and there to conclude a song in best Safri Duo fashion). This is a thoroughly entertaining show that confirms my hailing Barricade as the pinnacle of the (admittedly scarce) sludge metal scene in Denmark.


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