Slægt

support Maggot Heart
author AP date 04/10/18 venue Lille VEGA, Copenhagen, DEN

Due to an artist talk between Slægt and the Danish metal personality Anders Bøtter earlier in the evening, the former’s concert is set to begin at a savaging 23:45 on a weeknight, which might go some way toward explaining why the venue is far from sold out. After all, Slægt is one of the most hyped metal bands in Denmark right now, and their show tonight doubles as the release party for their sophomore album, “The Wheel”, which, it is hoped, will stage an international breakthrough for this blackened heavy metal quartet. But before the record is unleashed upon us in its entirety, the crowd is to be warmed up by Maggot Heart, the solo project of Linnéa Olsson, whom some people will no doubt recognise as a former guitarist of The Oath and Grave Pleasures.

All photos courtesy of Jimmi Brandt Pedersen

Maggot Heart

This new project turns out to be quite a bit noisier and punkier than Olsson’s former endeavours, verging on the Riot grrrl style and even hardcore punk at times, as evidenced by the third song, “Neuromancer” (off the “City Girls” EP from earlier this year). On the other hand, the likes of “Scorpion Time”, which incidentally also emerges as one of the standout songs of the evening, do hark back to the dark and mysterious atmospheres Olsson whisked up with her axe during her time with The Oath, and “Blood Envy” (taken from Maggot Heart’s recent début album, “Dusk to Dusk”) even opens with a riff that reeks of classic Black Sabbath. But while these certainly are moments to savour, Olsson seems very keen on giving her music an experimental sheen, and often this comes with the unfortunate side effect that the songs are difficult to get into, and even more difficult to remember once they have rung out. A strong criticism, but when you look around the venue, it is very clear that there is a pressing need for some chorus, riff or other kind of hook to sell this stuff to the audience. Indeed, it is obvious that Olsson has placed herself at the centre of the music and written the other instruments to play a supporting role, and the inevitable result is that many of the songs aired here suffer from both a lack of groove and a lack of direction. The aforementioned “Scorpion Time” is a notable exception, and the release notes of “Dusk to Dusk” also reveal that it is the one track on the album that was co-written by bassist/guitarist Gottfrid Åhman.

The band has a rocking presence, however, with especially Olsson and drummer Uno Bruniusson (who also plies his trade for Procession) cutting a fine figure on stage. The former has an air of Courtney Love about her — lots of attitude and personality, yet still a little bit withdrawn — while the latter’s wild, stick-spinning antics and whirling hair reminds me of Kadavar’s Christoph ‘Tiger’ Bartelt. The other two musicians are less tumultuous in their performance, preferring just to get the job done convincingly but not breathtakingly — which, I suppose, is exactly the feeling I get from the majority of Maggot Heart’s songs tonight. There is a lot of influences at play here, as my noting that the final song, “Pinned Like a Butterfly”, almost has a touch of The Cranberries to it, but if you ask me, they have not yet been harnessed in a way that would make me raise much of an eyebrow.

5

Slægt

Having seen Slægt many times over the past two years or so, I have become well acquainted with the quartet’s abilities as a live act. But even so, their performance tonight catches me completely off guard, and sends the band soaring into the highest echelons of Danish metal. Entering to a powerful scent of incense, the four musicians roll out their signature antics with more bravado than ever during the opening track, “Being Born (Is Going Blind)”, with lead guitarist Anders M. Jørgensen and bassist Olle Bergholz touting, swinging and lifting their axes above their heads as they roam around the stage in a glorious display of hair metal excess. Indeed, if guitarist/vocalist Oskar J. Frederiksen was not attacking his mic with such infernal screams, one could be forgiven for thinking Slægt to be a band in Def Leppard’s vein, rather than one dipping a foot in Norwegian black metal while the other is kicking in NWOBHM. The style itself is nothing new; it helped lift the group out of underground obscurity in 2015 when the “Beautiful and Damned” EP came out, and it consolidated them as a potent force on 2017’s “Domus Mysterium” LP, wooing crowds across the nation by virtue of not only the songwriting, but also the daring involved in not looking or sounding like any traditional extreme metal band. Yet with the release of this latest opus, “The Wheel”, Slægt continue to sound fresh and exciting, rocking their vintage Explorers and Flying V’s with absolutely no regard for what is considered ‘true’, and doing so with an energy that is unheard of within the extreme metal domain.

As far as I’m concerned, if you take offense with the camp and pompous style of Slægt on tracks like the aptly titled “Perfume and Steel”, you are welcome to keep languishing in a basement bar, snarling at these ‘posers’ as they lay their claim to stardom. But personally, I’m going to be there every step of the way, roaring in approval as Jørgensen and Frederiksen lean into each other and bust out harmonised twin leads galore in “Citrinitas”. I’m going to be there, nodding with assent as drummer Adam Nielsen tones down the blastbeats and leads into a clean, atmospheric quietus in “V.W.A.”. And I’m going to be there to be blown away by the baroque touches introduced by the magnificent “Gauntlet of Lovers” again and again. In my opinion, there are not many artists whose music and showmanship can stand to be taken on the road as often as Slægt do, but with plenty of material from which to choose now, with a veteran’s handle on their instruments, and with a phenomenally expressionistic performance, the band has nothing to fear in that regard. It seems that even the sky is no limit (to use a rather trite figure of speech) if Slægt continues on this current trajectory, and it would be surprising if they did not earn more recognition abroad now their breakthrough album has been revealed to the world.

9

Setlist:

  • 01. Being Born (Is Going Blind)
  • 02. Masician
  • 03. Perfume and Steel
  • 04. Citrinitas
  • 05. V.W.A.
  • 06. Gauntlet of Lovers
  • 07. The Wheel

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXVIII Rockfreaks.net.