Solbrud

support Mutilation Rites
author AP date 02/09/18 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

As the culmination of Solbrud’s late summer European tour with their stateside brothers in Mutilation Rites, tonight’s double feature is met by a sizeable audience eager to welcome the Copenhagen-born quartet back with a proper homecoming shindig. Even the fact that we are soaking up the last hours of the weekend has not stopped a handful of fans from lubricating themselves with a beer or three too many, so that when the New York City, NY-based support act unceremoniously takes the stage, the band is treated to a surprisingly raucous reception of horns and bellows.

Photo courtesy of Adriana Zak

Mutilation Rites

Mutilation Rites’ latest album, “Chasm”, is one of the most brutal offerings to have presented itself to me this year. Mixing black, death and thrash metal, it forms the backbone of the band’s performance tonight as well, providing headbanging and windmilling opportunities aplenty via the likes of “Axiom Destroyer” and “Post Mortem Obsession”. While the sound mix is not exactly on the quartet’s side, it is especially the drumming of Tyler Coburn that leaves a lasting impression, his atypical and quite discordant patterns proving the perfect companion for the dynamic riffage of guitarists George Paul and Michael Dimmitt. It is a shame that some of the most poignant melodies woven by the two six-stringers, not to mention the guttural backing growls of bassist Ryan Jones, are so often lost within an infernal rumble of bass, drums and rhythm guitar, as the resulting impression rarely exceeds that of a decent, yet ultimately unremarkable blackened death metal band. Little does it help that the band’s showmanship borders on non-existent as well, with the only recognition that there is actually an audience here coming in the form of Paul commenting, “This is our last show with Solbrud — those f**king weirdos…”. It is an odd way to address Solbrud’s hometown and draws a confused reaction from the attendees, who seem less and less interested in commending the group’s passive stage presence with each passing song. Personally, I am only momentarily drawn by the music, when the four musicians delve into the punky roots of black metal on the opening track, when they deliver a particularly grandiose atmospheric segment in the fourth, or when the going gets especially nasty during the death-metal-dominant final piece.

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Solbrud

The story could not be more different with Solbrud, who have not only found the right balance of clarity and volume, but also command the sort of authority that instantly silences a venue. Beginning with the spectacular “Forfald” off 2017’s “Vemod”, the quartet lets the cascades of tremolo melodies and blastbeats in that song envelop the room inch by inch, slowly building up a grandiose monolith of atmospheric black metal, until the shards of ice that are frontman Ole Luk’s screams puncture the soundscape and pull us down into the murky depths of Solbrud’s universe for the next hour or so. Unlike the support act, Solbrud also enlists the full might of the lighting rig and dry ice machines in order to surround themselves with an unsettling dark blue mist, the perfect visual aesthetic for a track like “Det sidste lys” (the opener of the aforementioned “Vemod”), the title of which translates to ‘the last light’ in English. Indeed, the show is as intense and evocative as ever, leaving little reason to question why Solbrud is held in such high regard both here and abroad, and a major part of this allure of course stems from the composition of the music. The atmospheric black metal genre relies heavily on the presence of a transcendental character both in music and performance, and the likes of “Sortedøden” (off 2014’s “Jærtegn”) and “Dødemandsbjerget” (taken from the band’s eponymous début album from 2012) once again tick both boxes, leaving me gasping for breath and putting the final touch on another spellbinding performance by these torchbearers of Danish black metal.

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