Kadavar

support The Shrine + Horisont + Satans Satyrs
author AP date 02/12/15 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Kadavar play in Denmark often, yet every announcement of a new concert seems to rouse the same excitement in the band’s exponentially multiplying fanbase. There is a reason for this, and rather than state the obvious, you might either want to peruse it in the review below, or finally get your shit together and watch one of these shows. As such, I arrive at Pumpehuset fully expecting the place to be bustling at the tipping point to sold out — an assumption which turns out to be correct even if not to the extent that the venue would have felt it necessary to use the bigger upstairs room. Not that anyone should mind: the best way to experience Kadavar live is as intimately as possible. Judging by the band’s unstoppable success, however, such opportunities may be difficult to come by soon, so I cherish seeing Kadavar live (for the third time tonight) even more than usual — by pounding my first beer and purchasing a second in the seven minutes that I have before the opening act is scheduled to start. I have been suffering from a fever, you see, and I hear it is important to keep hydrated.

Photos courtesy of Peter Troest

Satan’s Satyrs

On their latest album “Don’t Deliver Us”, Satan’s Satyrs did not manage completely to woo me, but the record did enough to capture my attention and have me speculating that the Herndon, VA trio’s music would probably better function in the live setting. True enough, the combination of high volume, a heavy mix, a dry wooden tone on Jarrett Nettnin’s guitar, and plenty of distortion applied to frontman Clayton ‘Claythanas’ Burgess’ bass lifts their songs into another dimension — particularly so the searing second track “Show Me Your Skull” from last year’s “Die Screaming” LP and the badass closing piece “Alucard” off 2012’s “Wild Beyond Belief!”. Most people will recognise Burgess from Electric Wizard, but contrary to his silent instrumental role in that outfit, in Satan’s Satyrs he is charged with vocal duty and honestly, his singing, like Ozzy Osbourne after inhaling helium, is an acquired taste to say the least. That is why it is so crucial that he, Nettnin and drummer Stephen Fairchild are such an energetically disposed bunch, each member a constant flurry of headbanging and spirited handling of his instrument. Theirs is a riveting performance then, added further character by the Virginia twang in Burgess’ accent during his interactions with the audience, though it would be a stretch to claim that any of it leaves a truly lasting mark.

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Horisont

With the headliners’ mammoth amps stacked behind them, the five musicians that comprise the Swedish retro rock / power metal hybrid Horisont suddenly make the downstairs stage look very crowded, and it spells a dire forecast for the quintet’s performance to have such limited space to move around in. Luckily they seem totally unfazed by these circumstances, and proceed to rock out like it’s the 70s to an absolutely enamoured audience. Opening with a near-11 minute prog metal opus might seems a little risky, but Horisont manage it to the highest accolades with “Odyssey” before the gallop and profuse usage of cowbell in “Light My Way” ensures all heads are banging to the tune of this wonderfully unique piece of the ongoing retro revival movement. Indeed, these Swedes have struck a gold vein by adopting the instrumental bravado of your ‘Maidens, Scorpions and U.F.O.s, painting it in the rustic colours of 70s rock, and then injecting all of it into a progressive mindset towards songwriting. The songs are so tightly written and catchy, yet bursting at the seams with clever dynamic shifts and wondrous individual performances. Horisont also strike me as a band fully aware of their own appeal, and as a result, their show is a deeply satisfying mixture of tongue-in-cheek arrogance, ecstasy, and emissions of energy. The concert is a joy to watch and listen to, with tracks like “The Night Stalker” and “Writing on the Wall” forcing even the most disgruntled grimace into an approving smile. Mark my words, this five piece is on its way to stardom — listen to their recent new album “Odyssey” and see if you disagree.

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The Shrine

Next on the menu are eight servings of filthy fuzz rock, courtesy of Venice Beach, CA based trio The Shrine, whose no frills philosophy unavoidably makes them the least personal artist in tonight’s line-up. The songs are significantly simpler than what has been on offer up until this point in the evening, with only the groovy mid tempo stoner of “Dusted and Busted” and “Nothing Forever”, as well as the turbocharged “Coming Down Quick” generating noteworthy marks on my memory, and the three musicians never conjure the magic (of Horisont) or weird allure (of Satan’s Satyrs) through their show. The band calls its own music psychedelic violence rock’n’roll, and admittedly that is not the worst description judging by guitarist / vocalist Josh Landau’s bulging eyes, hyper energetic demeanour and general swagger. But for such oomph in the description, the performance is too predictable, with Landau, bassist Court Murphy and drummer Jeff Murray all too content with just charging through the set with wild eyes like this is their first tour ever and nothing could interest them more than raiding Christiania and the backstage beer fridge. Don’t get me wrong: the show is characterised by high energy and the trio looks positively enthused about playing to us — they just never go the extra mile to come up with anything special.

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Kadavar

Let us begin with a spoiler: at this point, Kadavar can righteously proclaim themselves one of the finest live acts in the world — not just within the retro revival movement, but actually just in general. Exactly what bestows the German trio this honour is difficult to explain to those with no prior experience seeing them live, but in the jam-packed confines of Pumpehuset’s downstairs concert room there is without a doubt a universal consensus that very few other bands can measure up. This is because Kadavar belong to a rare breed with the capacity to absolutely stun an audience. They like to play so loud that even if for some bizarre reason you feel like you should have a casual conversation at their concert, it would be futile even to try. They have the kind of synergy that most people would deem to be supernatural. The three members look as gritty and badass as their monikers Lupus, Tiger and Dragon demand. They rock at least as hard as Lemmy Kilmister in his heyday. And they do it without so much as pausing for a breath.

That the musicians do not require a huge amount of room for the above facilitates an unorthodox stage setup in which Tiger — the drummer — acts almost like the frontman by virtue of his positioning as the central figure, by swinging his grizzly hair and beard around like a maniac, and by silently dictating the pace of the proceedings with both rhythm and his eyes. Lupus — the guitarist and vocalist — is stationed to his right, and Dragon — the bassist — stands to his left, thus strengthening the impression that in this each member is an integral cog in a well oiled, symbiotic machine producing some of the most spellbinding rock music that exists. It is entrancing first and foremost because it is LOUD, because each musician seems totally engrossed in the performance, and because they never fucking stop; Kadavar ploughs through 13 tracks like an unstoppable mudslide, and consequently, their show is extraordinarily intense.

Choosing six songs each from this year’s hard rocking “Berlin” and 2012’s psychedelic and doom laden “Kadavar” (with the exception of “All Our Thoughts”, that is actually the entire span of the record, including the bonus track “Living in Your Head”) and one from 2013’s “Abra Kadavar”, the concert is also characterised by huge variety, alternating between the long spaced out jams like “Black Sun” and “Purple Sage”, more straightforward rock’n’roll picks such as “Lord of the Sky” and “Last Living Dinosaur”, and those à la “Doomsday Machine” that fuse the two worlds. As such, the show is not only fixating by virtue of sending you into a blissful trance, but also because the dynamics are constantly shifting. The only thing that remains in place is the fact that Lupus, Tiger and Dragon look like resurrected Nordic gods on acid, with especially the first two banging their vagrant heads with absolutely no relent and looking like a pair of beasts enslaved by the power of rock’n’roll. And as such, the only thing that could conceivably have improved Kadavar’s performance tonight would have been to continue playing until the musicians ran out of steam (“Thousand Miles Away From Home” and “Come Back Life” have both been frequent additions to the setlist at other shows, just saying’…) or the venue ran out of beer. Another demonstration of superiority from heritage rock’s most distinguished purveyors!

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Setlist:

  • 01. Lord of the Sky
  • 02. Pale Blue Eyes
  • 03. Stolen Dreams
  • 04. Goddess of Dawn
  • 05. Doomsday Machine
  • 06. Black Sun
  • 07. Last Living Dinosaur
  • 08. The Old Man
  • 09. Living in Your Head
  • 10. Into the Night

—Encore—

  • 11. Forgotten Past
  • 12. Creature of the Demon
  • 13. Purple Sage
  • 14. Thousand Miles Away from Home
  • 15. Come Back Life

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