As We Fight & The Psyke Project

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author AP date 07/05/11 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

Sponsored by Ølfabrikken and endorsed by Copenhell, the Ebola release party featuring long-standing Danish metal bands As We Fight and The Psyke Project, was always going to be a special occasion. Outside the venue, half a dozen cases full of pale ale and 6.66% Copenhell brew on ice have been catered for free consumption while Kvelertak and Comeback Kid blast from a rental van's sound system. Inside, both bands are set up at the same time, on either side just in front of the stage, to facilitate maximum intimacy. Both bands are to play two sets comprising 6 songs each; this promises to be a good night.

As We Fight set #1

In honour of the running order on the split "Ebola" album, As We Fight begin proceedings on the left side, fenced in by the crowd on all sides. The notion of bad sound quality at KB18 becomes a distant and irrelevant lie as the metalcore veterans plough through "Bitter End" and "Coldhearted" with remarkable clarity. Unfortunately it appears that As We Fight are not at the top of their game tonight, looking drowsy and restrained in the small oval shaped area left unblocked by the audience. The setting offers a unique opportunity to channel the uncompromising fury of the likes of new songs "Black Heart" and "Dead End Streets" into an energetic and confrontational performance, but As We Fight seem content with merely delivering their songs with surgical precision, accompanied by a mediocre live presence. Rejoined vocalist Laurits Medom, in particular, has little enthusiasm to expend for reasons inexplicable, but fortunately the remaining musicians look pleased, if not ecstatic, to be showcasing the latest material from an already impressive repertoire. Consequently the spectators, too, settle for casual observing, bobbing their heads and tapping their feet along until "Can't Stop the Killing Spree" fades into deafening feedback...

The Psyke Project set #1

... and more of the same begins pouring simultaneously from the right side of the venue, as The Psyke Project let their presence be known. Having concluded their set at Huset i Magstræde with "Poems Written by Kings" the last time I bore witness to this band, it seems oddly appropriate, if coincidental, that the band should begin tonight's festivities with it. And when they do, the room suddenly awakens from its lull and erupts into a maelstrom of frantically flailing arms, hysterically twitching bodies, the punishing noise of The Psyke Project's instruments, and the primal scream of vocalist Martin Nielskov. It never seizes to amaze me how bassist Jeppe Skouv, and guitarists Mikkel Vadstrup and Christian Bonnesen, are able to exact such control over their instruments whilst flailing their bodies around in violent spasms and swinging them in dangerous arcs, but then again, it is for a reason these guys are considered the very best Denmark has to offer in metal. The pretty elements have been cut out from this first set, which features some of the most psychotic old and new tracks from the band's discography - including "We Came from Earth", "The Forerunner of Death", "I Get Paralyzed" and "45 Tears" - ensuring that nothing and no one is spared the merciless sonic (and visual) assault. Martin regularly grabs an unsuspecting crowd member in a chokehold and coerces him into reciting lyrics with his most abrasive growl, even collapsing to the ground from the weight of another bewildered fan tackling him from behind. This band never disappoints. And once "Only I remain" fades out into the same loud feedback that preceded the set, Martin declares a 10 minute pause before the second batch of sets.

As We Fight set #2

As We Fight start theirs with a short customised cover of "Stockholm Bloodbath" before letting loose "Slay the First Born", which finally kicks the crowd into participation. A small moshpit materializes amidst the still-unenthused band only to die out moments later from the sheer contrast between this and the insanity we just witnessed. One would have thought that watching The Psyke Project slay might inspire As We Fight to try to match up, but clearly this is not the case. The nondescript performance of even one of the most violent songs the band has to offer, "This Fuck You is My Last Goodbye" stands in stark contrast with the music; it loses half its impact without As We Fight looking like they mean business. The guitarists do make regular incursions toward the crowd to play breakdowns at us at point blank range, but the effect is sadly lost via one glance at Laurits' haphazard demeanor, looking like he'd rather be anywhere else than here tonight. "Shattered" and "Annihilation" provide a fine conclusion to As We Fight's parts...

The Psyke Project set #2

... and seamlessly, The Psyke Project lay down their own interpretation of "Bringing It All Together" before engaging the killswitch with "Battles", and initiating an even more psychotic second half. At this point, most attendees are in a mixed state of euphoria and intoxication, which reflects in the performance becoming more unhinged by the second. The line between band and audience is blurred into oblivion, and, seemingly fueled by the maddening reaction, Martin starts tearing members of the crowd into a hazardous moshpit in the middle of the performing musicians. His murderous scream, in turn, incites these people to lose all control and inhibition; at this point it is obvious that nothing positive will come out of this. Well, save for an absolutely fantastic live show, of course. Indeed, it takes all of one minute before Martin nails Jeppe to the ground, swiftly reciprocated by Jeppe tackling Martin into the drumkit, which promptly collapses from the impact, leaving drummer Rasmus Sejeresen slamming thin air with his sticks. This scenario repeats itself once more, this time courtesy of enthusiastic spectators, but not before Christian has managed to wrench a string from his guitar and replace it with a pastel blue Telecaster. The level of intensity goes through the roof as the band wraps things up with one of their most extreme songs, "In the Mist", and once again cements itself as absolutely and undoubtedly the best live act in Denmark.

As We Fight overall score:

7
Click here for the setlist.

The Psyke Project overall score:

9
Click here for the setlist.

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