Coliseum

support Bison b.c. + Kvelertak
author AP date 10/11/10 venue BETA, Copenhagen, DEN

One evening, three bands, and seven genres: black metal, rock n' roll, punk, hardcore, sludge, progressive and stoner. Quite a concoction - one which Rockfreaks.net was not prepared to miss. Featuring a selection of bands hand picked by Converge for their many tours in the past, this threesome forecast an evening of hard rocking, heated fun for friends of the underground. It was to take place within the tiny confines of BETA, which is still busting its ass off renovating, but as soon as the work is done, the amount of spectators it can capacitate per concert looks to double so that people interested in gigs like Coliseum might not have to be disappointed last minute when they sell out. Time will tell, but now for the evening's reviews:

Kvelertak

Kvelertak (in English: stranglehold or chokehold) is a name not only reflective of the band's music, melodious yet full of malicious intent, but also an apt metaphor for their way of engaging the crowd. Only Converge and The Chariot have in the past - in my experience - managed to install such reign over a small venue, driving every soul in the room into a mjød soaked frenzy. A heroes' welcome would be an understatement - Kvelertak are without dispute the main event. There is something irressistable about the way each song begins with an eponymous rallying call, lays down a rock n' roll rhythm, and then discharges the black metal, hardcore and punk influences; and something bewitching about the ill will vocalist Erland Hjelvik bellows with distorted growls and shrieks, like Ted Skjellum lending guest vocals to Turbonegro. From the gang yell of "Fossegrim" to the abrasive, black metallic "Nekroskop" we are held, truly, in a stranglehold.

The intesity is relentless. In fact, it is beyond relentless, summoning new realms of meaning for the word. Fans upfront get their five seconds of fame on Erland's microphone, while the rest of us pound our fists, flail our arms, and project our beer cups into each others' craniums in appreciation of everything that makes Kvelertak so fucking good: the seamless finger picking of Bjarte Lund Rolland (how many heavy metal guitarists do power-chords, shredding and solos without a pick?), the megalomaniac persona of Erlend Hjelvik, the berserk stage acrobatics, or simply the multifariousness of the music. No one stands still during songs as packed with furious, catchy attitude as "Blodtørst", "Offernat" or "Mjød", and witnessing it first hand is a testimony to the fact that currently, Kvelertak are a blue ocean band. They've carved their own niche, and now they're about to prove themselves as one of the most notorious live bands in the world. Necro rock n' roll, fuck yeah!

Bison b.c.

Rock n' roll fun is banished for the next half hour as Bison b.c. rattle the foundations with their punishing cave metal. This is as primitive as metal gets - dropped, heavily distorted tunes that happen following an overdose of Mastodon and a cocktail of mind altering drugs. Some might envision the result to be a little more colourful and surreal but alas, Bison b.c. strip the genre down to its bare essentials and live, the effect is less than impressive. Sure, there are bouts of instrumental prowess scattered amongst (though nothing spectacular) the lengthy, galloping sludge excursions, but with gruff, murmuring vocals that are virtually non-existent for the duration of the set, Bison b.c.'s set quickly grows tiresome through repetition. True to stoner tradition, stage acrobatics are also not part of the agenda (guitarist James Farwell sitting down on the edge of the stage is the absolute highlight), and despite providing ample opportunity for deep, scourging headbang, the performance bar the occasional neck noodling comes across as entirely underwhelming. Bison b.c.'s set is one spent anticipating a climax that never comes; nodding along, waiting for Godot.

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Coliseum

Coliseum face a halved audience when it's their turn, despite having the blessing of the enigmatic Converge crew, enjoying a status as visionaries, and being considered a cult phenomenon in hardcore circles. All this Coliseum have earned in just seven years by touring with relentless abandon, to, I'd imagine, crowds even smaller than tonight's. This is probably the reason there is no hint of irony to be detected in vocalist/guitarist Ryan Patterson's numerous thank yous to us, without whom the band would still be rotting away in some puny Kentucky garage. They are grateful to have the opportunity to tour the world, and it shows. Given the Converge association, one might expect Coliseum to tread similar terrain, so imagine my surprise when faced with a mellow, blues infused punk sound rather than the kind of furious extremity spewed out by their protectors. Okay, so Coliseum aren't exactly the most accessible punk band, but the hardcore element is kept consistently in the background, resulting in a sound that borders on South state rock n' roll (kind of a given considering the band's origins).

Musically thus, Coliseum tick a sufficient number of boxes on my good gig checklist. The performance is as energetic as one featuring three musicians can be, though much of the movement restricts itself to bassist Mike Pascal's amused jesting. But then the set relies heavily on Ryan's charisma, conviction and honesty, the latter of which unfortunately tends to go unnoticed for those of us without lyrics stored in our neural networks. Some songs then stand out more than others instrumentally, but overall Coliseum's performance feels a little mundane and devoid of the band members' full attention. Diehard fans receive a good dose of discography, no doubt, but having expected a live act in league if not with Converge, then at least with entertainers like Sick Of It All (based on the Coliseum's previous appearance in Denmark in support of Converge).

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