When the trumpets sound and call to war ensemble in my home town of choice, Silkeborg, then it's time to go. This is not a place with a huge metal scene, and when something finally happens once or twice a year, it has to be supported!
Not too many have heard the war cry, though, and it's going to turn out to be a fairly timid affair in terms of audience show out, sadly.
The first band on the stage tonight is the local band Crematoria. I reviewed a demo CD of theirs a couple of months ago, and now I finally get to see them live. They look as young as they are - i.e. very young! They are 16 - 18 years old and what is most weird is the fact they sound like something that was hotter than hell when I was exactly their age 20 years ago. Yes, they are so old-school US death metal that it almost hurts.
Although they haven't got too many gigs under their belt and they aren't as in your face as you could wish, the attitude isn't half bad and they play impressively well. Front man Sander in particular impresses with his growl. He doesn't sound like a 17-year-old kiddo whatsoever, more like a 40-year-old who has drowned himself in Jack D and fags since 1986.
On the down-side, it's very, very hard to hear what the two guitarists and the bass player have on offer. Vocals and drums dominate entirely and leave no room for the axemen in the soundscape. Plus the fact that the volume is in no way at a level where you can feel it. If this had been in place, this could have turned out to be the biggest surprise of the evening.
Blood Label, whose ranks include The Burning and ex-Dawn of Demise guitarist Alex, has been forced to substitute their singer, Kenneth, who's down with a sore throat, with Sickseed vocalist Thorbjørn. He delivers a proper job, no doubt about that.
At first, I'm not too enthusiastic about the mixture of thrash and metalcore from the five-piece. It's a tad too hardcore inspired for me, but as we go along, I can't help enjoying the fairly complex structures and solid musicianship that Blood Label display. There's some really, really heavy shit in there as well, you've got to hand them that.
If you ever get the chance to see this band, notice bass player Nikolaj - that guy is just intense on a stage! Tongue flying, eyes wide open, extremely positive energy - I love when you can see that musicians are SO there, totally consumed by what they do.
No less consumed by their music are The Psyke Project. But this is where I have to be blatantly honest and tell you that I'm completely out of synch with the thing they have going. I'm as much a fan of what they do as I'm a fan of what Neurosis does. I.e. not at all. It makes my ears bleed. It friggin' hurts!
Yes, yes, they have lots of energy, but I'm just praising the Horned One that their second guitarist has fallen ill and therefore isn't here tonight - otherwise it would have been totally insufferable!
I can hear that it all sounds right, and had I been a Neurosis fan, I would have adored The Psyke Project, I'm certain of it. But I'm not and I don't. The sooner it ends, the better.
One of the constants of the Danish scene in recent years has been As We Fight. They have toured relentlessly and released decent albums, most notably the latest offering, 'Meet Your Maker', and thus gained a deserved momentum among Danish metal fans.
Following vocalist Esben's recent move to HateSphere, As We Fight have recruited Last Mile shouter Laurits. Laurits is admittedly not my favourite metal voice, but he proves to fit As We Fight's sound quite well and does a decent job.
Just like the bands before them, As We Fight struggle with a surprisingly slow Saturday night crowd here in Silkeborg, and it punctures the balloon a wee bit. Sadly, because a one hundred percent ignited As We Fight can be rather deadly - too bad it's not really taking off tonight!
Different situation in the case of HateSphere. It's as if the crowd finally wakes from its long slumber and shakes its mane. Even after something that feels like an endless row of line-up changes, HateSphere is a force to be reckoned with and one of live dynamos of the Danish scene.
After the newly concluded US tour, new kid Esben is well integrated and throws a brutal grunt into the death/thrash/metalcore pot that is HateShere's musical output. The attitude from this band has always been highly professional and to-the-point and remains so.
Songs like Backstabber, Hate, Coming of Chaos and Damned Below Judas secure that the party mode is kept at a high level, and the mid-way appearance of Drinking with the King of the Dead secure that old farts like me who enjoy a heavy as shit slow grinder bang their heads like maniacs. This is quality time!
Esben incites to mosh pits, circle pits and eventually to a wall of death. As peculiar as it looks with a fairly small crowd, it fares well and there's good energy all around. And what's up with the dude in the wheelchair who is hurled into both the circle pit and wall of death?! Fuckin' 'ell! Dedication!
Interview with HateSphere guitarist JakobNyholm
Your reporter on the spot stumbled into Jakob Nyholm (g). This is the essence of our wee chat:
Jakob, how was the UStour with Nevermore?
Jakob: It was a great tour! It was a cool experience to be on the road with my heroes in Nevermore. Jeff Loomis is one of my great guitar heroes, and it was amazing to find out that he was just a down-to-earth guy. I asked if I could use some of his equipment, and he was like 'sure, no problem'. The downside was that there weren't that many people out there to see us this time around. But still, it was a very good experience.
You have a new front man, Esben (former As We Fight fronter). How does he fit into HateSphere?
Jakob: Very well! He's a good guy, good voice and he fits in with the rest of us. He's got so much music in him. He's always well-prepared and is very serious about he whole thing. It is of course important that he's someone we like and get along with - we spend a lot of time together!
So he's a real member of the band?
Jakob: Yes, he is. The problem we have now is a replacement for Mikael (Ehlert, bass). Sadly, Mikael has reached a point where he has to prioritize his family and work. He left the band a while ago, but helped us on the US tour and some other gigs - it has been SO convenient because he of course knows all the material and is a great guy.
Are you working on new material?
Jakob: Yeah, we have been working on some material, we have one or two songs ready.
So, more death metal?
Jakob: No, not necessarily. I'm guessing more in the direction of 'Ballet of the Brute'. Simple and straight-forward. I'd like it to be simple, for one.
And the production this time?
Jakob: Tue Madsen again, we hope. It's just really easy working with Tue. He knows us, we feel comfortable with him.
Too easy and comfortable perhaps?
Jakob: No, not at all. With the last album ('To the Nines'), Pepe was put under a lot of pressure. It was the fastest record ever for him, both in terms of what he played and the time it took to record it, and it turned out really well.
How do you cope balancing family, work and music?
Jakob: Oh, it's a struggle sometimes. This is what I have chosen to do, and it is a strain on the family. I have a daughter and a girlfriend now, and it's really something you have you to agree on, otherwise it won't work. I have a son from my past relationship too, and he'll be here tonight! [And in truth, the three and a half-year-old sprog turn up with his mother later on! A kid born and bred in metal, indeed.] You could say that what living this life is totally self-centered. I go away for days or weeks, and when you look at the money from this, it's really difficult to justify that I pursue this dream. But on the other hand; I won't be doing this forever, and I really don't want to end up regretting the things I haven't done and ending up like a bitter old man!
Hats off to that attitude! Thanks to Jakob for the chat!
Attending and interviewing: Thomas Nielsen
See all pictures here
Impressive growl -
Sander from Crematoria
Stand-in for the night -
Thorbjørn, Blood Label
Noise pure -
The Psyke Project
New vocalist Laurits -
As We Fight
Powerful & professional -
A word with Jakob -
Jakob from HateSphere
and The Power of Metal.dk's travelling
reporter in a glam pose