The Ocean

support Intronaut + Red Fang + Earthship
author AP date 02/06/11 venue Templet, Lyngby, DEN

Templet in Kgs. Lyngby has well and truly shifted from being a venue for small Danish underground bands to being a viable alternative to venues like BETA and The Rock. This strong tour package featuring Earthship, Red Fang, Intronaut and The Ocean is but one of many recent examples of excellent bookings made for the Temple of Doom nights; no surprise that the venue is sold out and packed to the brim by the time Earthship begin their set.

Earthship

Discouraged by our editor-in-chief's recent review, I never bothered to give Berlin based Earthship's debut album, "Exit Eden", a proper listen, but based on the bands the fans of which he recommended it to, their performance was likely to instantiate at least some neural activity. But as with many bands in this trade, their blending sludge, progressive, post-metal and hardcore results in a disconnected, if highly focused presence animated only by Jan Oberg's faint attempts at context-aware jokes. Yes, there are at least three Lyngbys in Denmark and Tuborg's Påskebryg is a fine beverage, but such remarks do not constitute true interaction with the crowd. In general Earthship get me started on the wrong foot, lobbing out their least adventurous piece in the beginning; one which consists primarily of a dirty chord progression and in no way warrants the comparisons to Neurosis, The Ocean, nor Mastodon. From then on, however, the songs become more vivid, their complex structures and fluid percussion fully warranting a position on this bill. What lacks in the band's performance is the important visual element - a well executed and coordinated light show or some form of projected backdrop would instantly improve the generic nature of not only the band's music (in the context of the genre amalgam in which they exist), but also the performance, which consists of four grimacing men churning out bottom heavy prog/sludge in admiration of the heavyweights in the genre.

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Red Fang

Red Fang is a far more interesting proposition, and, judging from the uncomfortably packed venue, one which a lot of people are keen to see. As their band name insinuates, Red Fang play darkened metal n' roll in the vein of Black Tusk, Bison B.C. and, to some extent, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. As such, both the songs and the expression are much more immediate and short in frills. This simplistic approach is a welcome descent back to the earthly realm, where music can be consumed at face value without shedding any thought to dissecting layers of instrumentation and spaced out jams. Red Fang simply bang in one riff driven song after the other and attempt to make arrangements for procuring marihuana from crowd members in between, and occasionally lapse into a smoky groove or bout of noise à la Kylesa. Moshing is difficult given the amount of people rammed into the tiny venue, but considering the number of heads banging in unison with each passing song, the universal feeling seems to be one of accept and approval. Still, the music is not inspired or novel enough to warrant an impression beyond "this is pretty good", nor is there much of a visual side to Red Fang on stage. What they set out to do they execute with pride, competence and candor, but without inspiring an epiphany.

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Intronaut

Intronaut's snarly bass tone and uplifting soundscapes have paved the way for one of the more unique sounds in the realm of progressive sludge and post-metal. And although the band is constrained by the sheer complexity of their songs to standing still during most of their set, few seem to notice or care, preferring instead to be absorbed by the overwhelming beauty of the songs aired tonight. Musically, Intronaut exist somewhere between Mastodon and The Ocean, employing a mixture of deep growls and powerful clean singing courtesy of all three musicians up front. With every passing song, the now considerably thinner crowd appears to descend deeper into a state of trance, closing their eyes, headbanging, becoming one with the music. My eyes remain fixed and my critical mind open, however, which leads me to note that despite the quality of the music, Intronaut are perhaps not the most interesting act to watch in a live setting, again owing to the lack of a visual counterpart such as those employed by Isis and Neurosis, for instance. Furthermore, despite emitting a cinematic feeling of optimism, the music of Intronaut is eerily similar to that of the headliners, The Ocean, whilst falling short of the sheer majestic brilliance of that band. Nonetheless, a fine performance by an oft overlooked band.

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The Ocean

Because vocalist Loïc Rossetti is suffering from a severe throat infection, The Ocean tell us they'll be performing an instrumental set tonight, with heavy emphasis on songs from "Precambrian". And while the omission of vocals from a number of newer songs such as "Firmament" gives rise to strange situations where the instrumental channels cannot compensate efficiently for no vocals, the end result is surprisingly intriguing. The Ocean have a clear advantage over most bands, who would probably be forced to cancel their performance in the event of their vocalist falling ill, in having a backlog of some of the most intricately layered, endlessly complex songs available in the progressive hardcore genre, bolstered by a plethora of samples and orhcestral backing tracks. Nowhere is this more effectively demonstrated than in the two-part finale, "The Origin of Species" and "The Origin of God", which by way of the sheer volume and number of instruments crafting their expansive and highly abstract structure are absolutely stunning; paralyzing in their ability to capture the audience. But while the instrumental brilliance here would by itself be worthy of high regard, The Ocean are equally fixated on delivering a visually enthralling performance. Granted, the quadruple LCD monitor setup behind them is out of order, preventing the use of abstract animations, but even so, having toured with the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan has left its mark on the band members, who at no point during the set restrict themselves to generic postures, instead throwing themselves around in constant spasms like the Ben Weinman fans that they are.

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