The Psyke Project: The End Of An Era

author PP date 02/10/14

One of the most important eras within the Danish music scene will come to an end on Friday when chaotic hardcore group The Psyke Project will call it a day. After having spent the last fifteen years as unequivocally the most important underground band in the country, the scene has been set for one final celebration of underground music culture and their status as the flagship of uncompromising music at Pumpehuset, where the band will play two sets mirroring their two very different eras sound wise as a band. While a thorough dissection of their impressive discography is grounds for an extensive article on its own, where said eras are inspected in detail and analysed in the context of their contemporaries, this article focuses more on their sense of purpose and importance within the Danish scene at large. However, let me start by introducing you to what's gonna happen on Friday first.

More than a farewell party

Leave it to The Psyke Project to go away in style. It's never felt like an appropriate TPP experience to watch them performing on a stage high above the audience with a barrier in between them and the crowd. We know it. The audience knows it. The band knows it. That's why they've agreed with Pumpehuset to scrap the stage altogether and perform on the upstairs floor instead. They will set up their equipment in the middle of the 600 capacity venue with multiple platforms (including the real stage) available for people to observe the show from above, whilst the surrounding areas to the band will undoubtedly transform into merciless mosh pits and pure, utter chaos. Needless to say, expecting to be anywhere near the front rows and to simultaneously come out of the show without bruises and drenched in other people's sweat is pretty much delusional. Crowd safety, while important, is secondary to a truly epic live experience that has the potential to be talked about as the best concert Denmark has ever seen. Remember the unspoken rule: if someone falls down, you pick them up again.

Photo: Peter Troest

The first set will consist of relentless brutality and uncompromising chaos from the "Samsara" and "Daikini" albums plus the demo EPs that came to define The Psyke Project as one of the craziest and most insane live acts in existence. Think along the lines of vocalist Martin Nielskov in the midst of the crowd leading the pit charge, whilst the rest of the band are crashing into each other at best of times, crowd surfing or leaning against the front of the crowd at other times. Here's where you'll get the craziest pits, people jumping off everything imaginable and risk the venue's structural integrity losing its strong points and the whole building collapsing down.

Photo: Peter Troest

The second set will revolve around material from "Apnea", "Dead Storm", "Guillotine" and of course the "Ebola" EP, all of which showcase an unwavering belief in their own songwriting ability and disposition to write totally unique and experimental heavy music that dared to differ completely from their chaotic hardcore origins. Instead, these albums portrayed a more brooding and complex soundscape that truly drew from the cold origins of their Scandinavian heritage, resulting in captivating soundscapes which, while not as crazy as the original material, featured the kind of depth and intricacy that would leave a long-lasting impression on anyone paying attention and predictably resulted in critical acclaim both nationally and outside of Denmark as well. As such, here the insanity level in their live show is likely be toned down for a more mysterious, droning approach which will feel more hypnotic and induce you to slowly headbang in unison with the 600 other people in attendance. It will be a different and less-active approach from the first set, but it will demonstrate the evolution of TPP as a band and how non-'break everything in sight' showmanship can also be great.

But there's only so much that can be said on paper. If this trailer does not get you excited for Friday then I don't know what will:

TPP: The most important Danish band 1999-2014

While The Psyke Project may never have obtained as sizable following as many of the more mainstream rock bands in Denmark, their role within the Danish music scene far outweighs those numbers. They are arguably the most important band Denmark has had throughout the years, and they are that for a multitude of reasons.

Photo: Peter Troest

One, their music has always successfully avoided the stale and generic Danish metal sound, instead bringing forth a completely different and songwriting-based approach to heavy music rather than just the usual "lets sound as heavy as fucking possible" that has plagued (and still does) all too many heavy bands in Denmark. It's a soundscape that has managed to stay both brutal but also expansive and ambitious in its nature ("Dead Storm" being the epitome of this experimentation in many ways), and has continuously pushed the boundaries of what is possible to do with heavy music. The resulting expression is not only unique but also critically acclaimed almost unanimously by the media that have gotten their hands on a copy of their recent material. There aren't many Danish bands who have been able to consistently capture critical acclaim in the same manner as TPP over the years.

Photo: Peter Troest

Two, the band are unequivocally the best live band in Denmark. Though never paraded as such on the numerous awards shows in Denmark, you can ask anyone who has been to multiple TPP shows and they'll preach it to you as a fact. They're not wrong. Known for their chaotic live experiences which are as unpredictable and crazy as their music in the early days, this is a band that has drawn favorable comparisons to the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Chariot, two bands widely regarded as the greatest live bands the global music industry has ever seen. There's something primal about a bunch of dudes hanging from the rafters, crashing into each other, jumping animalistically around a stage while their vocalist roars indecipherable raw grunts and finds himself within the audience 50% of the time. To compromise, that has never been a part of TPP vocabulary, and as such some of the craziest and most unbelievable moments in the Danish live circuit have taken place at The Psyke Project shows. They've been the flag bearers of how every single live band should look like every single time they play: passionate, absolutely drenched in energy, and no stand still moments where you'd feel like this is no different from listening to the record at home. This band has always been about performance when it comes to their live shows; they are truly exemplary in the Danish live circuit and miles ahead of pretty much everyone else in the national scene.

Photo: Philip B Hansen

Three, the band's innovation and creativity is sustained outside of their recorded output as well. No other band in Denmark has played the amount of weird locations, strange concerts, and fucked up shows than TPP have in the past. The next section will take you back on a nostalgia trip to what kind of crazy stuff they have been up to in the past.

TPP: Anywhere, everywhere

The majority of bands spend their entire career following a predetermined route: practice in rehearsal room, play your first show at a basement / small pub / tiny venue as support for some band, advance to the next level and headline small venues, then medium-sized places, then the occasional festival performance or two, and onwards to bigger venues. Common to all is that the band is performing on a stage, in front of a crowd.

This has never been enough for The Psyke Project. Throughout their career they have performed everywhere imaginable and far more places unimaginable. For example, back in 2009 they played a concert during a crossfit workout at Butcher's Lab Gym in Kødbyen, Copenhagen. Yours truly was present in a truly bizarre event where the band would play a brief song or two, before being interrupted for station change by the crossfit participants, followed by the next song or two. People were pumping iron left and right and the band was playing right in the midst of these people.

The Psyke Project at Distortion 2010

Fast-forward to summer 2010 when the Distortion electronic music festival was taking place near Knippelsbro, Christianshavn. The band literally played on the bridge in such a way that on the opposite side of the bridge you had the electronic music party, and whenever the bridge opened and stopped people from crossing the bridge, the band would play a few minutes of ear-destroying metal to show the people what real distortion means.

In 2011, the band proved their innovation yet again by challenging As We Fight to a versus-style showdown at KB18. The bands setup their stages in opposing sides of the venue to play against each other in two sets, allowing the crowd to practically stand in the middle of two stages and be bombarded by heavy music from both sides. It was a crazy night as AP's review will tell you.

Look at this fucking chaos at the DR RADIOHUS(!)

And, if we go back eight years to 2006, the band performed a truly chaotic and brutal version of "45 Tears" from "Daikini" at DR Radiohus, which was broadcasted live via the radio waves on P3. Needless to say this is probably the most aggressive and heavy material ever to have aired on national radio in Denmark, and probably the last time the stage of Radiohus will be voluntarily given to a band capable of such utter destruction as is the case particularly in the last 30 seconds on the above video.

The Psyke Project vs Helhorse @ Roskilde Festival 2014

All of this of course culminated in the most anticipated display of innovation in Danish metal in the history of the genre, when Roskilde Festival invited The Psyke Project to perform a collaborative set with southern metallers Helhorse on the Avalon stage earlier this year. The bands would blend their songs together, take turns playing each others songs, and play songs together in one brilliant display of the kind of talent both bands have displayed for many years now in the Danish music scene. I mean, just try imagine some of the traditional metal bands doing something similar. Not exactly the first thing that comes to your mind, eh?

Who's the new torch bearer?

So as we have seen throughout the course of this article, The Psyke Project have been the underground darlings for quite some time now. They have been the most forward-thinking band in Denmark throughout their existence not just via their recorded output but also via their live shows, which oftentimes cross the border into I dare say performance art. And with the candle being blown shut for one last time on Friday, we're going to be left with an empty feeling, a power vacuum in Denmark, simply because there are no other bands demonstrating similar passion for the unknown as The Psyke Project have demonstrated throughout their years.

Photo: Peter Troest

Despite their popularity barely hitting 10,000 likes on Facebook, their influence within the Danish music scene is far-reaching and undeniable in its fashion. They have been the band that almost every local heavy band has been looking up to during the last decade, simply because they have shown innovation, instrumental talent, brilliant songwriting, and boldness to go where no other band has gone before. And as such, from where we are standing, we fail to see which band will take over from The Psyke Project as the torchbearers of musical innovation in the Danish heavy music scene.

The throne is up for taking - it'll be exciting to see who, if any, will take it.

No compromise - WE SCREAM TOGETHER.

See you at the show - details below:


19:00: Get in the queue and hang out, drink free beers.

20:00: Doors open (buy your entrance ticket here - 60 kr)

21:30: 1ST SET (THE PSYKE PROJECT 1999 - 2005)

22:30: Break

23:00: 2ND SET (THE PSYKE PROJECT 2006 - 2014)

00:00 - ??: After Party at Pumpehuset. Get free Whiskey shots in the Jameson Bar at the lounge area.

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