Grusom

support De Forbandede
author AP date 11/05/18 venue Musikcaféen, Copenhagen, DEN

It would seem that neither Grusom (from Svendborg) nor De Forbandede (from Odense) have amassed a very large following in Copenhagen as of yet, as what I had assumed to be a quick sell-out turns out to be quite a scarcely attended affair at Musikcaféen on this warm Friday evening. The two bands are nonetheless hot on everyone’s lips lately, with Grusom gearing up to release their highly anticipated sophomore album in the autumn, and De Forbandede still riding the ride unleashed by the two full-lengths they put out last year (“De Forbandede” and “Den evige nat”) — and as such, it was an easy decision for me to skip the usual post-work festivities and head over to the House on Magstræde instead.

All photos courtesy of Philip B. Hansen

De Forbandede

Déjà vu: the sound issues that plagued these Odensians’ performance at VEGA last month have been transferred to this venue as well, with Nicolei Aagaard Rasmussen’s bass guitar dominating the mix from the get-go, and the mixture of frontman Peter Østergaard’s singing and effect-laden guitar riffs, and Michael Hansen-Buur’s keyboard melodies coming across as much too lofty for such an intimate venue. On the other hand, it is a pleasure to discover that the quartet has mixed things up quite a bit since that previous concert, striking the perfect balance between the two aforementioned albums with a choice of six songs off each and delivering early highlights with the ‘60s hippy vibes of “Et stort sekund" and the wah-wah overload of the following “Flygtige saltopløsninger”. Despite releasing two albums in rapid succession, there is a clear dichotomy between the efforts, with those older songs leaning more into psychedelic rock and the newer, poppier ones, such as “Befri dig selv” and “Kun jeg er til”, offering more immediate rewards, and as a result, the show is bestowed with excellent dynamics.

It cannot be very motivating to struggle with a subpar sound mix and most other artists would likely have laid down their weapons long before the majestic balladry of “Gnisten bliver til flammer” woos me yet again. But De Forbandede have an almost hellbent desire to always perform to the utmost of their capabilities and tonight is no exception. There is a lot less space on this stage than at VEGA, yet the ever-so-expressive pair of Østergaard & Rasmussen makes full use of every inch to rock out, sometimes stumbling over their pedalboards to throw a pose, flash some bravado and generally to show their audience a good time in punchier tracks like “Nuets æoner” and “Byens ødemark”. And when the going gets moodier and the instrumentation takes on a more jam-based character in the likes of “Gnisten…” and the closing piece, “Evig ild”, it is mesmerising to watch all four musicians becoming completely lost in the moment, in thrall of their own music. But alas, most of this subtlety seems to have little or no effect on the handful of patrons that have bothered to gather in front of the stage, and given that De Forbandede’s showmanship is on such a high level, this can almost only be a symptom of the suboptimal mix and the ensuing difficulty in impressing upon the audience the lasting value of the band’s music.

6

Grusom

Although it is my impression that not everyone agrees, the circumstances under which Grusom gets to perform are vastly improved. The variety of nuances in the Svendborgian heavy psych act’s music have no trouble penetrating my earplugs and separating into the dark, yet invigorating stories of life and death that vocalist Nicolaj Hoffmann Jul so vividly tells against a soundtrack of ‘Sabbath-school riffs and ‘70s style organ arrangements. Gloom is the band’s gospel, as evidenced by “Evil” — one of the standout tracks off their eponymous début — but against expectation this does not translate into a sullen, shoegazing, or introverted show; on the contrary, Grusom’s performance is absurdly uplifting, more smiles than glowering. Jul especially is in a congenial mood, authoring the concert with humour and charisma when he is not sending chills down my spine with his heartfelt singing in the likes of “Cold Stone” and “No Gods”. With palpable passion, he takes the music to himself and breathes it, personifying the sense of drama that reigns over the band’s often balladic take on heritage rock.

Around Jul, the five remaining musicians are more understated in their demeanour, but they play so tightly together and ensure that the soundscape remains lush throughout, whether by virtue of an oriental-sounding guitar solo in “Skeletons”, a marching rhythm in “Embers”, or by foraying into a mind-altering instrumental segment and Thin Lizzy-esque twin leads in “One Last Breath”. With the exception of “One Last Breath”, which premiered as a single over a year ago, these are all brand new acquaintances, and will all feature on the upcoming album. They leave a lot to look forward to, but none so much as the hair-raising power ballad that is “Piece of Mind”, which Jul dedicates to the “idiots leading us today”. The song epitomises what Grusom is all about: slow, yet powerful compositions that are not afraid to reference The Doors and even Nick Cave within their doom-laden core. The band even jams out a part of The Doors’ “Break On Through (To the Other Side)” before the baritone deviousness of “Gruesome” — as if to prove that point themselves. Many a Danish band has taken this retro rock revival for a swing, but none of them have pulled it off with the elegance of Grusom, who, once the new record drops, are certain to establish themselves as a force in the genre.

8

Setlist:

  • 01. Evil
  • 02. Skeletons
  • 03. Embers
  • 04. Cold Stone
  • 05. No Gods
  • 06. One Last Breath
  • 07. Beyond This Land
  • 08. Peace of Mind
  • 09. Vågn op
  • 10. Gruesome
  • 11. The Journey

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXVIII Rockfreaks.net.