The New Shit Showcase VI

support Eyes + Drukner + Pudsige Herrer + Expatriated + Human + (0)
author AP date 05/01/19 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

For the sixth year running, my gig calendar for 2019 kicks off with The New Shit Showcase, an initiative by the metal blog Blastbeast.dk to try to kickstart the careers of some of the most exciting new rock and metal artist Denmark has to offer right now. By their own admission, 2018 was the most challenging year they’ve had thus far in terms of unearthing that talent, yet succeeded they have once again, in presenting six domestic acts looking to find a footing in their respective genres. And true to tradition, it is a wide variety of genres the six artists are spread across, ranging from extreme metal to mainstream rock, which likely is at least partially responsible for attracting such a sizeable audience to Pumpehuset on this first Saturday of the year.

Main photo courtesy of Jacob Dinesen — all other photos by Jannie Ravn Madsen

(0)

“At last”, is the first thought that wanders into my head as (0) is announced by the conferencier as the opening act tonight. Although the band does not perform with hoods or masks, they have nonetheless been shrouded in mystery ever since they emerged into the public eye in 2017, not revealing their identities and maintaining a cryptic atmosphere in everything they do. Indeed, I have been under the impression that (0) was a post-black metal band, yet as the five musicians begin their set, barely visible in the dim turquoise lighting, it becomes clear to me that this is far from the case. A better way to describe the style of this Jutlandian outfit would be avant-garde, as there is no specific anchor to which any of the songs they present here cling. There are bits of black, death and doom metal, post-rock and even a passage of Motörhead-esque metal’n’roll erupting out of the eclectic mix, with perhaps only the Japanese weirdos of Sigh manifesting as some kind of meaningful reference to what (0) really sounds like. Certainly, Denmark has never spat out a band quite as unique as this, and although the music still seems to be missing that final, magic touch to really implant itself into the fabric of my memory, most of the expectations that I had been building up for my long-due first experience with (0) are well and truly met. It is just a shame that the sound mix should be so unkind to them. The bass and drums take up an enormous amount of space within the soundscape, the sheer punch of it all against my chest getting me worried that my heartbeat might get displaced, and end up muddling up not only the vocals, but also a significant slice of the finer intricacies contributed by the two guitarists. And as such, I think I need to see a headlining performance by (0) in order to completely make up my mind about their prowess and potential.

6

Human

Next on the running order is Human, who, despite their young age, have already acquired some street cred by virtue of being praised by Jesper Binzer (frontman of D-A-D). The band is quite a rare sight these days, in that their genre of choice is grunge when it had its heyday in the ‘90s, but in honesty the trio have plenty of work ahead of them if they hope to make a genuine impact in Denmark and especially abroad. While there are some catchy elements pricking my ears here and there in the songs, it is only the heavy and groovy third song, “Black Hole” (the title of which of course makes you think of a certain other genre classic by Soundgarden — although its style is more akin to Alice in Chains) that stays with me beyond the duration of the short set. It is not that Human do anything wrong per se; bassist Jakob Jonathan Bjerg even makes for quite a character on stage by way of his twirls and other rockstar moves, and frontman Joachim Rahbek Iversen is just as brooding as you want your grunge vocalist to be. It is just that the songs betray a lack of experience in writing strong, memorable songs and as such, it is hard to form a real connection to any of them at this point. Without question, Human have the basics of grunge down: the interplay between clean melodies and heavy riffs, the almost lethargic style of singing, and the slow, groovy rhythms. But they need to harness those elements with a more assured hand to produce the lasting value their music so desperately needs.

5

Expatriated

Expatriated is another band completely unknown to me, and from their name I predict them to play alternative metal or hard rock for some reason. It turns out that my assumption could not be more wrong, as the primary influence of this Horsens-based four-piece seems to be Opeth, albeit the oddly timed rhythms of drummer Henrik Kanstrup-Smith and the poignant tone of Jens Gadeberg’s bass guitar give it a modern, techy sheen as well. From the two lengthy tracks Expatriated manage to present, I judge their music to be a little rough around the edges still, in terms of the transitions (too abrupt at times) and song dynamics (leaning toward a more is more philosophy). But as the second and final piece, “Conflagration” off their début album, “The Last Trace of the Imprudent”, reveals, the four musicians are extremely talented, and if they manage to hone that talent into more smoothly flowing songs, they could very well inflict a lasting mark on the Danish progressive rock and metal scene. In terms of showmanship, it is obvious that the main emphasis is still on a tight performance of the music, which means that Expatriated come across as a little introverted on stage — but this is something that will change with experience. One thus hopes that the quartet will continue on the path they have mapped out for themselves, as Denmark could use a boost of more serious actors within this scene. I, for one, choose to believe and will be keeping tabs on this group’s progress.

6

Pudsige Herrer

Although (0) fought hard for the honour of being the most eclectic band on the bill tonight, Pudsige Herrer (which translates to odd gentlemen) seem to have the edge over them with a bizarre yet entertaining mixture of classic rock and garage-style protest-punk. With no guitarist in their line-up, the trio relies heavily on the inventiveness of bassist Kári Birk Wellsandt for both rhythm and melody, and surprisingly, as an adorer of the six-string, I never actually find myself missing that instrument in this music. It looks like Wellsandt’s axe might in fact be rigged as a hybrid, with both bass and guitar strings, so there is plenty of chirpiness in the songs to go with their bouncy, dance-inducing nature. Best of all though, vocalist Jakob Rohde-Kappel (who also seems to be operating a theremin) carries himself with tremendous charisma and energy, like a younger Neil Fallon (frontman of Clutch), succeeding as the first artist tonight in eliciting a proper reaction from the audience, who gladly join him in singing some call-and-response lyrics targeting Denmark’s current prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, in the chorus of the fourth song Pudsige Herrer air. He finishes it off by charging into the audience to roar his indignation right into the faces of a select few festive crowd members, putting to shame the efforts of the previous three bands, who were very static in comparison. It is hard to imagine Pudsige Herrer making an international breakthrough, but on the domestic front they’re certain to become one of the most trusted party-starters this country has to offer and, based on their showmanship, a staple of the country’s gig circuit in the years to come.

7

Drukner

Drukner is the only group here that I am already familiar with, having established themselves as something of a regular opening act when there is a doom or stoner band from abroad in town. With so many concerts on their belt already, it is no surprise that Drukner also comes across as by far the tightest and most rehearsed band on the bill. For a doom/stoner metal hybrid, there is actually quite a bit of movement incorporated into their performance, albeit in slow and subtle ways. This is especially evident during the excellent second song, which sees the quartet totally lost in the morose atmosphere while they sling their dense grooves at us as though they were in a drug haze. And if they actually are, they are definitely not the only ones, judging by the scent of weed lingering in the air during the show. Indeed, it would not be a proper stoner concert if there wasn’t a whiff of that tickling at your nostrils, and the psychedelic feel of it all is perfectly reinforced by both the esoteric, mantric singing of guitarist Palle Skovhede (quite reminiscent of Sleep’s Al Cisneros) and the trippy blend of blue, purple and turquoise hues in the lighting. The music of Drukner has a tendency to be somewhat long-drawn at times, with riffs that send your mind drifting but also have a propensity for excessive meandering, but that never threatens to become an issue given their set tonight clocks in at around 30 minutes only. Instead, the show is a far cry from their set in support of Acid King last year and easily goes down as one of the best tonight.

8

Eyes

The other candidate for that prize must be Eyes, whose ferocious brand of metallic hardcore punk immediately compels vocalist Victor Kaas to bulldoze his way through the audience and mosh the beer out of my hand. Of course, the band’s energy should come as no surprise, given that bassist Kenn Bendtsen and drummer Simon Djurhuus also ply their trade in one of the most explosive acts Denmark has to offer: Hexis. Although the music of Eyes is not quite as ashen as that of Hexis, its level of intensity is just as high, manifesting itself as short bursts of extreme fury that prove to be the perfect fodder for the first pit action of the evening. Kaas also spends most of his time in there with a deranged glare radiating from his eyes, pushing and shoving the enthralled audience in an apt embodiment of the music, which, to me, sounds like a mixture of the aforementioned Hexis and the grinding hardcore punk of Nails. I must admit: it is impossible to call the songs Eyes air catchy or even to tell much of a difference between them. But it is also impossible not to get carried away by the sheer energy with which they are delivered — and I guess that’s also the point of Eyes: to be a live band first and recording artists second. A harsh and unforgiving ending to another rock solid showcase.

7


Once the music falls silent though, it does not feel like there has been a revelation in the vein of BAEST, Bersærk, Grusom or møl like at some of the previous editions of this event. Those bands have all gone onto forge successful careers both in Denmark and abroad, but alas, it is difficult to see that happening for any of the artists presented tonight. I hope that I will be proven wrong over the course of the year but until then, I look forward to what talent Blastbeast might be able to spot for the seventh edition of this fantastic tradition.

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