The New Shit Showcase III

support WOES + møl + Grusom + Oxx + Crueltys Heart + Gaia
author AP date 09/01/16 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Every second month, the Danish metal blog Blastbeast selects from a pool of demos sent to them a band whom the two bloggers believe could become the next breakthrough metal artist in Denmark. Each is given a spot on Anders Bøtter’s Sort Søndag radio show that month, and the six artists are then ultimately collected at an annual event dubbed The New Shit Showcase, where they are given the opportunity to test their live worth against a typically largish audience in festive weekend spirits. One of the big draws about the showcase is the huge variety of music on offer, with never more than one representative of a specific genre chosen, and, usually, the opportunity to see some genuine up-and-coming talent with little prior to show for it. This year’s edition took us from downtempo doom at one end to high octane hardcore at the other, and as always, the mood was festive, the event a resounding success. In the paragraphs to follow, you can read about how each of the evening’s six bands fared according to our grade book.

Photos courtesy of Marika Hyldmar

Gaia

Gaia, a revenant from last year’s festivities, was brought in as a replacement for the now defunct stoner outfit The Hyle, the first band to be booked for this third edition of the showcase almost one year ago. The Valby based trio makes a fitting substitute though, given their practice of ‘cosmic doom’, and although their 2015 performance was lacklustre, it is with a sense optimism that I position myself near the front to catch their opening set — they have had some time to hone their sound and musicianship since then, after all. And judging by the song choices — the first an as yet unreleased track clocking in at roughly 15 minutes in length, the second their latest single “A Cure for Time” ditto — much has changed over the year, with the scorching stoner doom sound exchanged for a heavier, darker and more psychedelic variant centred on hypnotic repetition. The music is simple, yet oddly captivating given what must be no more than 3 chords constituting the bulk of the initial song, with the occasional wah-wah solo the only source of relief from Gaia’s atavistic stomp.

Fortunately, the three musicians have developed immensely in the art of performance between tonight and that last time, and by providing a visual aesthetic to complement the music, Gaia are significantly more interesting to watch now. The bassist, with his low-slung instrument and dreadlocks, has that perfect, druggy vibe to his rocking out, while the guitarist plods the stage with Yeti-like steps to the slow beat of the tunes. There is a primal feel to the proceedings, distilled as much from the antics of these two caveman-looking beings as from the low end lumbering of the music, that inspires deep headbanging, loud applause and cries of approval from an audience that has grown much fonder of the band as time has passed. For me personally though, Gaia’s songs could use a little more colour and depth in order to cash in their full potential.

7

Cruelty’s Heart

Not knowing what to expect from a band with such a moniker — cheesy power metal or cringeworthy hard rock? — it comes to me as a genuine surprise that Cruelty’s Heart is neither of those things. Originally founded in Southampton, United Kingdom by vocalist / guitarist Philip Butler but now resident in Roskilde, the group rather plays a frosty, melodic style of pagan metal with a touch of black colouration, sadly muddled by a suboptimal mix which has little mercy for Butler’s shrill screams. Sometimes reminiscent of Kalmah, other times Amon Amarth, these boys have a penchant for grandiose melodies (sans the brief lapse into thrashy, Darkthrone-y black metal in the third song), but as much as they have this tradecraft down, there is no escaping the fact that Cruelty’s Heart have yet to develop one hundred percent confidence in their own abilities. What this translates to in the live setting is a static performance with all of the instrumental musicians’ eyes firmly fixed onto their instruments, tongue in the center of the mouth so as to achieve perfect execution of music that admittedly does not sound very easy to play. There is promise here, certainly. But for now, Cruelty’s Heart emit an amateurish aura which belies their capabilities as musicians.

5

Oxx

By far the most eccentric of the evening’s entertainment, Oxx plays an avant-garde and jazzy form of metal difficult to latch onto at first, but which then transforms into groovy sludge every now and then to ensure that most brains can still compute what the band is trying to achieve. With guitar, drums, rumbling samples and the occasional oboe (played over blast beats, no less) as the tools, it would be an understatement to call the music of Oxx a little strange, an acquired taste, as witnessed by the loud chatter resonating across the venue courtesy of patrons unable to find head or heel in what the trio is trying to convey. The musicians have an energetic way about them though, and a passion that burns in their eyes whether they are spazzing out, settled into a driving groove, or enjoying a moment of tranquillity during one of the more tempered instrumental passages. What is needed is an anchor of cohesion in the actual music so that Oxx might be able to make a lasting impression — a catchy chorus, a soaring riff… you get the gist. They are fun to watch, but I have no idea what the fuck is going on half of the time.

6

Grusom

As the only band billed tonight, heritage rock act Grusom have already released a debut album, which we reviewed here. Said effort was rather excellent, and as a result, my expectations for the Svendborg-born six piece are significantly higher than for the rest of the acts (with møl coming in on a close second place). Despite the pressure however, Grusom swiftly and effectively establish themselves as worthy of my trust with one of the most qualified showings of the evening, looking every bit prepared for the throes of international touring. With beaming smiles, a retro rocking style and dexterous execution, the band not only delivers a highly entertaining performance, but also impresses with a selection of smartly crafted songs delicately balanced between the energetic and the kaleidoscopic. The lights are rather dim much to our photographer’s disgust, but to me the low key visuals only strengthen the feeling of days gone by being reanimated by the band. Indeed, from the smoky riffs of Dennis Warburg & Thomas Ulrik to the poncho looking sweater of keyboardist Peter Pørtner, Grusom look, sound and feel genuinely like someone picked them up from an analogue recording session and ushered them through a time portal to this moment. They are not in the same league as, say, Kadavar just now — they don’t have the same intrinsically catchy songs, and they would need to up the ante even more on stage to get there — but there is nonetheless huge potential here.

møl

Firm believers in the trendy black metal / shoegaze fusion, møl have already graced us with two EPs (”møl” and ”møl II”) and can thus rightfully count themselves among the most experienced artists booked for this showcase. The amount of rehearsal also means that the quintet is at once engaging; the songs are well written mixings of black metal, post-rock and shoegaze, the lighting is professional and considered, and each of the five members knows how to put on a show. As it should be in this genre, there is an air of mystery to the proceedings, with most of the light delivered from behind thus generating a cool silhouette effect on the musicians, each of whom spends most of the set hiding behind a veil of hair. The atmospheric nature of the music, and the possessed dancing of vocalist Steffen Rasmussen only adds to the entrancing sensation, which reaches a climax amidst the rolling drums, cascading melodies and piercing screams of the second last song (the title of which escapes me). The only constructive criticism I can muster is that many of the songs still lack the killer edge, the elusive it to make an instant and unforgettable impression similar to, say, Deafheaven. Still, based on my observations here, møl seem to have the necessary class to become at least a small international success, pleasing to anyone with an affinity for this hip new era of black metal.

7

WOES

Whatever energy dispensed by the five preceding acts is shamed when blackened hardcore upstarts WOES take the stage. Mildly put, their show borders on hysteria, with vocalist Nicholas Meents often charging into the heart of the audience to mosh and scream in our faces, hoping to incite an equally frenzied reaction. When he is not on the floor, he’s kneeling, lying on his back, or thrusting from side to side, always attaching a visual component to his furious expression. His three colleagues on guitar, bass and drums are almost as wild themselves, resulting in the sort of spectacle that hardcore show should be. As tends to be the case in this genre however, the band’s songs seem primarily to be designed for this exact purpose — to provide an appropriate soundtrack for their crazed antics — and as such one must succumb to the realisation that virtually every song sounds exactly the same: a compact discharge of fury with few nuances. But then, it is not with innovative designs that WOES are hoping to forge some success; rather, like The Chariot, their music seems to be a vessel for expressing emotion in a physical way. In that sense certainly, WOES succeed.

7

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