The New Shit Showcase II

support EVRA + Gaia + Serpents Lair + Pataus + Odonata + Crassus
author AP date 10/01/15 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Despite the fact that in Denmark, it is almost a custom to moan about tiny turnouts and a general lack of belief in bands practicing in this country's metal underground, the inaugural edition of's 'New Shit Showcase' last year was a resounding success. Three of the bands the Danish metal blog had dug up during 2013 and presented have enjoyed veritable success in 2014 (Bersærk, EVRA and Lucer) and it would be a logical fallacy to claim that this showcase had nothing to do with casting a spotlight on them. As such, the expectations were reasonably high for this year's event as well, with fans, media, bookers and the like all eager to discover new, exciting local bands. The turnout was sufficient to ram the downstairs area of the venue, and from what I hear, the party continued until the early hours after our departure. So it's safe to say that the 'New Shit Showcase Pt. II', too, was a success. Below you can read our assessment of the five bands presented (there were to be six, however Maelsteria were forced to pull out last minute), as well as EVRA from last year's edition, who stepped in to complete the line-up on short notice.

All photos courtesy of Philip B. Hansen


At this type of event one must anticipate the featured bands to not have everything down just yet (one of the requirements for participation is that the artist must not have releases beyond demos out) and tune one's expectations for them accordingly. But even so, prog-thrashers Crassus begin their set, it's impossible not to feel they were a little too eager to start gigging. The quartet, comprising vocalist/rhythm guitarist Tim Stie, lead guitarist Niklas Korsholm, bassist Asger Grau & drummer Andreas Vilmar have original ideas to be sure, the mixing of aggressive onslaughts of thrash with Opeth's most progressive nuances instantly separating them from most of their domestic peers. It's just their level of experience is so dismal that the performance suffers deeply: it's untight, the many transitions between the two styles in their songs need serious polishing before truly impressing, and the four musicians look and act too timid to be able to put on much of a show.

Why take to the stage when neither songs nor performance has been fine tuned yet? That is the question that haunts me as I nonetheless note that there's a plethora of cool riffs jammed into their material. Likely their oldest and most rehearsed song, "The Realm" does offer a glimmer of hope halfway: Crassus appear more comfortable playing it with the result that it's tighter, and allows the band to accompany the track with a hefty dose of the headbanging so integral to performing thrash metal live. But in general, the combination of their two interests - the prog and the thrash - is only occasionally successful in terms of structuring, and as such, the evening's final song which largely shuns the jazzy meandering in favour of a more straightforward thrash assault emerges a much better pick than the band's more complex songs. There's promise here, but my advice would be to spend some time refining, rehearsing and perhaps playing a couple of shows to an exclusive audience of friends and taking notes from them.



Odonata address us with the admission that they've only got three songs to play, but that at least they're quite long. They're one of the bands I've been most interested in checking out at this shindig given they've been advertised as a djent/progressive metalcore act, of which there are few in Denmark at present. This is only their third show, we're told, yet that notion seems perplexing when they actually get into it. Odonata, made up from vocalist Sam Kormind, guitarists Andreas Hylleberg & Toby Mohr, bassist Jamie de la Sencerie and drummer Thomas Lien, look extremely seasoned, with an enthusiastic stage presence and the sort of subliminal understanding among one another that ensures their songs are played with precision. Arguably, the music would be impossible to play without it, given the frequency of odd time signatures and complex riff patterns that characterise their songs. There's some monitor feedback from Kormind's vocals here and there, but that's just about the only real issue the quintet face during their short performance (which does stretch into a fourth, shorter song at the end).

This stuff is overtly inspired by the likes of TesseracT and Uneven Structure, and for such a young band as this it's impressive to behold the finesse with which they fuse the lofty progressive passages and hard hitting grooves that form the foundation for the genre. Not surprising then, that final song "The Rule of Two" inspires the evening's first moshpit and drives nigh everyone in the venue at this point to fix their eyes on stage and witness what might just be the next thing in Danish metal. If Odonata continue to expand on their performance with a touch more energy and unpredictability, they're well on course to becoming one of the nation's trustiest live acts.



Pataus is a name I've heard only in passing prior to this evening, so they've got a blank page when it comes to drawing critique from me. They're at an advantage in that most of the 250 to 300 attendees in here are now sufficiently inebriated to go a little nuts, and as it dawns on these that Pataus play a distinctly U.S. style of death metal infused with plenty of malicious melody, people look to be sold. Death metal is, after all, one of the most beloved genres in Denmark and one which is nearly always certain to provoke a positive reaction from an audience here. Pataus, like Odonata before them, look an experienced bunch, with that slow deliberate headbanging by vocalist/guitarist Tobias Olsson, guitarist Andreas Brock & bassist René Brock immediately signalling that these boys have done their homework when it comes to delivering a solid death metal concert. There's chain-headbanging taking place at the front of the audience, too, and an abundance of horns in the air from the rows behind, so objectively speaking, very little can go wrong here.

The band's music sounds a tad like By the Patient's early material (on the "Catenation of Adversity" EP specifically) with a subtle dosage of Amon Amarth influence to it as well: it's harsh, yet with a constant melodic edge that sustains my intrigue throughout. The third song aired (the title of which escapes me when it is brutally growled out by T. Olsson) is delightfully menacing, recalling to some extent the technical mastery and unflinching ferocity of Suffocation to which T. Olsson's deep growl is the perfect complement. And judging by the fact that the evening's first crowd surfer takes out during this piece, I'm not alone in my thinking that Pataus are very impressive indeed for a band of their age. During the final track "Hell Arise", a dangerous looking moshpit erupts at the centre of the venue, cementing the best audience reaction of the night thus far, and once the ominous sweep picked melody near the end of that track swiwels in, I find myself nodding in that convinced, approving I dig it way.


Serpents Lair

Having first arrived moments before Serpents Lair, it's my turn to take over reviewing duties for tonight, which starts by jumping straight into the deep end of the pool with black metaller's Serpents Lair. The venue is pitch black in darkness; the band appear on stage only as silhouettes with dark blue back-light drenching the venue in a cold, barren atmosphere. Through clever use of hoodies and facial masks, looking towards the band members feels like staring into the abyss as you can see nothing but blackness instead of facial features. It's a neat feature, and one that fits well within their immersive sound. It's pretty much textbook black metal with a brooding sound characterized by droning melodies, devilish shrieks and growls, and a mid-tempo delivery that specifically aims for creation of a solid atmosphere. This is what Serpents Lair are good at, because other than a few headbangs there's not much more than static stand-still happening on stage. Crowd interaction is nonexistent as is the norm in kvlt black metal shows in general, so the only thing left is to headbang according to the blackened melodies.



Next up is Gaia, whose doom-laden stoner rock is definitely inspired by Black Sabbath among others. Their interpretation of the classic genre is punishingly heavy and driven by dirty distortion and extremely slow tempo, which gives their expression its doom leaning. While this type of music is cool in the mid-afternoon sun in a festival atmosphere, it is absolutely NOT Saturday night friendly at least if you're looking to get into a party mood. Hence you have people heading towards the bar and the back areas of the venue away from the stage, because the band's minimalistic, unnervingly lengthy progressions lead nowhere meaningful and are more likely to put the beer-drenched crowd to sleep. Especially the dreamy sections are just too much tonight. Sure, at one stage the guitarist kneels down to play the last riffs to a song, but that's about everything positive I can say about their set for the time being - or anything else for that matter because not much is going on for their set either. Mediocre stoner with doom elements that needs much work before it'll appeal to a wider audience.



For the past year it has been one success after the next for the Copenhagen based southern hardcore / mathcore band Evra. Known for their explosive performances, they've torn apart Copenhell, an opening slot for Vildhjarta this autumn, and of course the last Blastbeast showcase a year ago in convincing displays of pure energy. Tonight, they are once again the most energetic band, but also face the smallest audience for some reason. Initial songs are plagued by bad vocals only audible via the monitors at the front, but fortunately this improves somewhat and the band's bouncy performance breaks out a few pits in the crowd shortly after. Throughout their set, it's one high energy track after another, yet their -core oriented approach to a metallic sound doesn't seem to grab the crowd in a meaningful manner. Perhaps tonight's audience is more accustomed to the traditional metal genres rather than the innovative and dynamic soundscape of Evra? Who knows. With vocal problems continuing throughout their set (being barely audible in places), it's difficult to get as much out of the set as usual, because the songs blend into each other way too much. Even so, final song "Erase/Rebuild" has the pit going absolutely mental. The vocalist vaults into the crowd and falls over straight away, creating more havoc in the process. It is just one example of a show that has been characterized by explosive and bouncy stagemanship, but which needed a better sound to impress properly.


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