Hatebreed

support The Psyke Project
author PP date 23/08/11 venue The Rock, Copenhagen, DEN

You have to give the Danish booking agents a round of applause for the band offering this year. It seems like every month you have not one, not two, not three, but many incredible bands stopping by Copenhagen (and elsewhere in Denmark) for a show. Whether you're into indie rock, punk rock, metal, or hardcore, great bands - both up-and-coming and legendary - have been lining up to play here...but especially hardcore bands. A stream of high-profile acts stopping by doesn't seem to be ceasing anytime soon, and Hatebreed playing an intimate club show at The Rock is just the icing on the cake. It's only worthy then, that the best live band in Denmark, The Psyke Project, was awarded the honour of warming up the crowd.

The Psyke Project

And warm up the crowd they did. Initially, they faced a half-full crowd as people were still streaming in, and one that on a Tuesday evening was more interested in standing still at a relatively safe distance from the stage, save for the die-hard fans at the very front. You could tell that the crowd tonight was a more straight-up hardcore oriented audience to whom the menacing and layered metalcore/mathcore of The Psyke Project required a few songs in getting used to, so despite vocalist Martin Nielskov's frequent requests to take steps closer to the stage were obliged to, the circle pit clearly needed some oil before it'd start rolling. Winning over a crowd like that is an extremely difficult thing to do, but 15-20 minutes later, The Rock saw a prelude of things to come as the pit finally broke out and didn't stop till the band were done. As usual, the band were their crazy self on stage, demonstrating lots and lots of energy, but due to a higher stage and the initial lack of crowd dynamic, the set felt a lot less intense than we've seen at, say, this show, and a big part of TPP experience is seeing the crowd go as mental as the band, which in turn fuels the band further and everything starts spiralling out of control. I didn't get that feeling and/or impression of their set tonight, even though it was great to see a loud scream-along to the last song where the microphone was thrown away for an analog shouting session. But they got the crowd going, and probably walked away with a few new fans, and that's what counts.

Hatebreed

Hatebreed can safely be referred to as an institution within hardcore. Their brand of give-it-all, tough-guy aggression has spread like plague around the world, leading the band into similar fan notoriety as a band like Slipknot, where legions of fans appear at gigs all proudly sporting Hatebreed merchandise as if to show allegiance to the band. Tonight's venue is a far cry from the big stages they are used to playing (as evident by their massive logo that's too large for The Rock's stage), representing a unique opportunity to see how Hatebreed' set - renowned for its ability to move huge masses of people at festivals and arenas alike - fares in an intimate club setting, and a fantastic direct comparison to the more anthemic Comeback Kid show from a week ago.

And from the moment that Jasta & co appear on stage, the crowd explodes from its feet into a frenzy of mosh pit, circle pit, and bouncing, sometimes all at the same time, showcasing precisely the same kind of energy we saw at the Comeback Kid club show. Except maybe with more jumping this time around. Hatebreed's studio output might not be on the same level songwriting-wise as CBK's, but they compensate with a superior stage show which is masterfully conducted by Jasta. It's largely thanks to him that the pit never ceases and the venue is shrouded in a sea of head banging from start to finish. There are times when the crowd mayhem reaches a point where its best description is a controlled riot, Jasta being the orchestrator on stage who commands people what to do, and when to do it, sounding so damn hardcore whenever he opens his mouth. That's why his chants of "lose your minds!", "here we goooo" and "get off your feet" sound so convincing, and why he only needs to pump his fist to get people shouting along to "Born To Bleed" and "Live For This", for instance. And why his hardcore unity speech about "hardcore was and is our life" doesn't sound cumbersome or stereotypical rather than fitting and inspirational.

It of course helps that the sound is really fuckin' loud tonight to the extent you can hear every down-tuned riff tear your chest apart and cause internal bleeding - this scribe was squeezing his earplugs in further on more than one occasion - which adds to the in-your-face aggression factor and the undeniable energy and atmosphere tonight. The vocals are more brutal and less polished than on the latest couple of albums, giving the songs a rougher and muddier flavor. It's a double-edged sword, because on one hand it makes the songs blend in too much, but on the other hand it creates a more authentic and destructive sound that gives an incentive for fist-pumping hardcore energy to light the room on fire. And for the first forty minutes, the whole debacle both looks and feels like an 8½ show, a lengthy hardcore celebration. But whenever older material - especially the first album - is aired, it becomes clear that it's not so popular here, given how chant-alongs are almost entirely reserved for the middle to late Hatebreed material tonight. Moreover, the show loses some steam around the one hour mark because of the aforementioned blend-in factor, creating moments where I'm feeling that a grade or a half a grade lower is more accurate because of the perceived lack of variety. However, the pit activity suggests otherwise, and the die-hard fans certainly got what they came here for in the 25 song setlist that left no era of Hatebreed untouched.

It can always be discussed whether Hatebreed are one of the rare instances of bands who are more suited to play arenas rather than clubs, because it frequently looks like they have difficulty in adjusting to the smaller space constraints and a smaller crowd. Plus, it's just never the same when you see a band move a crowd four or five-thousand strong, versus a smaller one, no matter how intimate the venue. But when the band finishes their set with "Destroy Everything" to the horror of the owners of the venue, the enormous response and the fact that almost everyone in the crowd has spent the last 75 minutes off their feet is enough to convince even the most skeptical of tough-guy hardcore journalists - the undersigned - that Hatebreed played a great show tonight in spite of my minor negative observations in the end.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Facing What Consumes You
  • 2. Mind Over All
  • 3. Smash Your Enemies
  • 4. Tear It Down
  • 5. Merciless Tide
  • 6. Everyone Bleeds Now
  • 7. Hands of a Dying Man
  • 8. In Ashes They Shall Reap
  • 9. Empty Promises
  • 10. Spitting Venom
  • 11. Burial For The Living
  • 12. Live for This
  • 13. To the Threshold
  • 14. A Call for Blood
  • 15. Doomsayer
  • 16. Proven
  • 17. As Diehard as They Come
  • 18. Beholder of Justice
  • 19. This Is Now
  • 20. Perseverance
  • 21. Defeatist
  • 22. Driven by Suffering
  • 23. Never Let It Die
  • 24. I Will Be Heard
  • 25. Destroy Everything

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