Billy Boy In Poison

support 100 Knives Inside + Road To Manila
author AP date 29/01/11 venue Huset, Copenhagen, DEN

Day two of the Days of Thunder metal showcase at Huset i Magstræde came with an assortment of smaller bands all leaning toward the extreme end of the genre. The amount of attendees was noticeably smaller than on the previous night, consisting mostly of the friends of each band - but still large enough to eclipse the usual turnout bands this size entertain in Copenhagen. Three straight days of gigs was beginning to take its toll on me, but as the diligent writer that I am, I was determined to do my part in shedding some light on the Danish underground and give the bands the attention they need no matter the grades.

Road To Manila

First on stage are Frederician deathcore mob Road to Manila with substitute vocalist Andreas Bjulver. Rumor has it mainman Jesper Gün has chosen Andreas to carry on the legacy of this band following his imminent departure, and that the band is exploring new terrain for future material, so in a way, this is both a farewell concert as well as a new beginning. If you ask me, moving into experimental territory would do Road to Manila well; currently the band is all too occupied with idolizing music angled at the moshpit, wasting the obvious talent of drummer Niclas Facius in stomping breakdowns and meaningless chug; but with a little more emphasis on inventive riffs and actual leads these youngsters have the potential to woo a much wider spectrum of listeners. So, while the keen karate moshers certainly get their money's worth, the more casual listeners are left cold by what essentially sounds like a long-lasting beatdown. Sure the two vocalists on stage - Jesper and Andreas - do their utmost to reproduce every deathcore move they have ever seen - from still jogging to stomping the ground to the beat of the bass drum, and even venturing into the scarce audience at times - but the whole thing still looks and sounds like a cliché. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what transformation the band will undergo once Jesper resigns and a bassist is found. The drumming is already, at times, sublime, and guitarists Allan Kristiansen and Nicolaj Lindegaard seem to have a decent grip on their axes, so virtually nothing stands between them and creating something worth listening to. Dare to think outside the box.

6

100 Knives Inside

Next up are 100 Knives Inside, a Herning based technical deathcore outfit whom I've been meaning to see for a while. Watching a band like this is, in a sense, the ultimate motivation for picking up a guitar and starting a band: in the able hands of axemen Zalan Khattak and Thomas Hoff, impossible sweep patterns, fluid tapping and drill speed shredding look like child's play. If they can do it, why shouldn't everyone else be able to as well? The reality is different, of course, and most of us must suffice with devouring their talent with our eyes and ears. But while 100 Knives Inside can hardly be blamed for the same ambition related issues that plague Road to Manila, something about their incessant noodling feels a little too calculated and sterile to produce oohs and aahs like, say, Cold Night For Alligators. Instances of solo work have been inserted into every bridge with no regard for the general aesthetics of a song, with the result that more often than not, the eye-widening skill with which Zalan and Thomas execute their parts becomes lost in an overall lack of structure. It sounds as though 100 Knives Inside favor showing off over restraint, and jarring over coherent. The line between what constitutes pointless guitar wankery and what sounds like a necessary or relevant feat of instrumentation is crossed on both sides here, making the retrieval of anything meaningful from the songs extremely difficult. What's worse, the nature of the band's music renders it practically impossible for its musicians to capture us with their stage presence. 100 Knives Inside are not yet at a level where they are able to divide their attention, so crowd interaction and showmanship rests solely on the shoulders of vocalist Simon Jakobsen. In order to compensate for the static performance, the music would have to send chills down my spine, and mesmerize me like Between the Buried and Me, but alas, I do not feel challenged or intrigued beyond admiring the swift fingers protruding from the hands of Zalan, Thomas, and bassist Martin Jensen.

Billy Boy In Poison

Finally, the last band of the evening is Billy Boy In Poison, featuring that guitarist with the cat that has the weird eyes and that vocalist whose 4 year-old daughter listens to heavy metal. Over the years, BBiP have evolved from a generic metalcore act into extreme metal aficionados with a taste for the progressive, and this is fully reflected both in tonight's setlist and in the band's attire. Gone are the Killswitch Engage shirts and accessible songs à la "Guns Blazing" and "Down This Path" (not to mention the first song I ever heard by the band: "Can Never Win"), replaced with fluorescent Trigger the Bloodshed merchandise and the heaviest poison Billy Boy has to offer, including, of course, "Contaminated", for which the band filmed an amusing music video last year. Disappointingly the jesters behind the corpse paint on that clip look reasonably normal tonight, confident in needing nothing more than a set of their best material and a relaxed attitute for impressions. Having seen the band live several times, I know they can pull this off, always earning extra credit for the sheer and blatant blast they're having while playing to us.

Tonight would be no exception, were it not for the sound problems becoming increasingly obvious in the mix. Niclas Mortensen's double pedal, in particular, sounds like a serial fart for the first four songs, until all five members in unison decide to cut out in the middle of "Contaminated" to address the issue. And while the peculiar clipping noise is removed during this break, Billy Boy continues to struggle with glitches for the remainder of the set (I've been told this owed to the band not having their regular sound engineer handling the mix). As such, the performance is likely to be as, if not even more, frustrating for the band as it is for us on the floor. A ray of optimism comes with the airing of a brand new song that seems to foreshadow an even heavier, more death metal oriented pending debut album, and with the brooding, atmospheric C-part in "Cacophony of Blood", but as a (pseudo-)professional critic a set plagued by problems in such a degree makes it impossible to award a grade higher than

7

Setlist:

  • 01. Just Behind My Eyes
  • 02. This Will Break You
  • 03. Take Your Life Back
  • 04. All The Monsters
  • 05. Contaminated
  • 06. (new song)
  • 07. Against the Crowd
  • 08. Cacophony of Blood

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