Hell On Earth Tour

support Unearth + Evergreen Terrace + Bane + Nasty + Casey Jones + Worth A Kings Ransom
author AP date 07/09/11 venue The Rock, Copenhagen, DEN

As autumn veers into Denmark the frequency of worthwhile concerts is, once again, on the increase. In the coming months we will feature a huge number of gig reviews of both domestic highlights and international heavyweights; my personal schedule already looks quite overwhelming with a minimum of two concerts per week if everything goes according to plan. We begin this review parade with a report of this year's edition of the Hell on Earth tour, which brought an impressive package featuring Unearth, Evergreen Terrace, Bane, Nasty and Casey Jones to the newly refurbished venue of The Rock.

Worth A King's Ransom

Originally the tour was to include Full Blown Chaos as well, but due to circumstances beyond their control, the band was forced to pull back from the tour only weeks before its beginning. Instead, the tour promoters arranged a series of Facebook votes for each stop, in which attendees to the respective stops were to vote for their preferred upcoming European punk, metal and hardcore act to replace Full Blown Chaos. Helsingborg, Sweden based Worth a King's Random emerged as the victors of the Copenhagen date vote, and while the band could certainly do with a more intensive rehearsal regime to dust off the cosmetic flaws from their live sound, it takes but one glance to recognise the presence of genuine talent. Guitarist Joel Olsson in particular garners a lot of attention with his lead work, often involving complex tap and sweep arrangements. During these more demanding parts the youngsters are glued to the ground - a hindrance only experience can cure - but when the breakdowns roll in, Worth a King's Ransom demonstrate that they have a solid grasp on their instruments. But while the live presence of this band is satisfactory, the music, for the most part, is not. Said breakdowns are used in abundance as unwelcome breaks between standard fare metalcore instrumentation (generic staccato riffs, pummeling bass pedals and pedestrian time signatures), and the occasional clean vocals provided by rhythm guitarist Marcus Nordbeck Toth are horrendous at worst, and average at best. There are moments where Worth a King's Ransom are definitely onto something, such as on what I gather to be the band's hit single, "The Arsonist", but in order to survive in this ferociously competitive, saturated genre, much work is still needed in the songwriting department.

Casey Jones

It is the first time Casey Jones have set foot in Denmark, we are told, and it will sadly also be the last. At least collectively; brothers Josh and Caleb James, respectively on vocals and drums, have been here before with their main unit Evergreen Terrace. Unphased by the skint crowd, the band is determined to make this a banging hello-goodbye, so the energy remains consistently high throughout the set. But because the band only has one guitarist tasked with providing equal parts melody and chug, there are limitations to how thrilling their live presence can be: aside from the occasional leg-splitting hardcore jumps and brandishing of instruments, most of the presence rests on Josh James' shoulders. He roars through the songs with passion and conviction and does a fair job at engaging the few fans gathered upfront; "Hammer the Nails" in particular is received with much enthusiasm by those. I have a feeling that the intensity of the band's music would translate better in a smaller venue, but alas, on a stage this size most of the intimacy that Casey Jones' music supplies is lost in the largely vacant room.

7

Nasty

The moment Belgian outfit Nasty begins chugging at it, my thoughts immediately descend on reasons why I loathe this variant of hardcore. Not surprisingly, there are the usual few peeps in the pit enjoying every bit of it, flailing their arms and legs, falling, and knocking over other people's drinks, but then said dudes would probably regard half an hour of nothing but open string chugging and punishing beatdowns with equal admiration. I have been advised to not review the pit, however, and focus instead on the band. Unfortunately this review would be far more descriptive and even result in a higher grade were I to review the pit, which is as violent and, for those in it, entertaining as a pit at a hardcore show should be. The show, on the other hand, has few such positive characteristics. Nasty literally beat their way through half an hour of brutal, generic hardcore, while their supposedly notorious live presence is nowhere to be seen. Vocalist Matthi is the only source of show at all, but at the very least, some applause must be offered for his unrelenting attitude, honesty and crowd engagement. His strange prancing about the stage like Fred Durst, however, deserves none. And with music as uninspiring as this to back it, it is extremely difficult to discern what it is that people see in bands like Nasty. There are countless hardcore bands out there that are able to combine the kind of urgency Nasty strives for with unique, recognizable sounds. Why waste time on listening to endless breakdowns?

4

Bane

Despite being hugely influential to bands like Comeback Kid, Bane have never achieved a similar level of success. It seems that whoever regards Bane as a lesser band, however, has not actually seen them live, because the spectacle that unfolds before me is the stuff of legend. Bands like Bane set the benchmark for what live shows, or at least hardcore shows, can and should be like: relentless energy, supreme command over their instruments, and an uncanny ability to combine showmanship with musicianship. From the word go every member of Bane is flying in arbitrary directions, jumping around, and violently flailing his instrument in every direction - and this continues unabated throughout the set - yet the songs, brilliant combinations of hardcore fury and intricate melody, are rendered with unwavering precision. If there's one thing to complain about - and indeed, this is probably the reason Comeback Kid enjoys widespread success while Bane remains a cult phenomenon - it is that Bane lack the sort of empowering sing-alongs that characterize songs like "Wake the Dead" and "G.M. Vincent & I", so enjoying the songs at face value without knowing them first is a challenge. "Can We Start Again" comes close though: preceeded by a short monologue on embracing the days of our youth, the song has many a member of the crowd loudly singing "Can we start again / go back to what it meant back then / open minds and open hearts / the things that set us apart". Ironically, the same people that were going batshit with Nasty are now standing around unimpressed. Indeed, why waste time on listening to endless breakdowns when you have the opportunity to witness a band as enthralling as Bane? This is what hardcore is truly about.

8

Evergreen Terrace

Josh and Caleb James are on stage for the second time tonight as it becomes metalcore / hardcore hybrid Evergreen Terrace's turn to stir the audience. Josh, now with a guitar in his hands, exhibits the same kind of untiring energy he had in the beginning of the evening, even appearing somewhat frustrated by his demotion to a supporting role in this outfit. Together with chief vocalist Andrew Carey and guitarist touting clean vocalist Craig Chaney, this trio single handedly warrants all the critical acclaim thrown at the band since the release of their fourth and fifth albums, "Wolfbiker" and "Almost Home" through a tireless, competent and glitch-free performance that unites Carey's heartfelt narration with a rampant and often tongue-in-cheek punk attitude and a combination of fierce hardcore riffs and solemn melodies. Although I am disappointed by the omission of "Starter" and "God Rocky, Is This Your Face?" from the setlist, and their apparent replacement with an awful cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World", it is impossible not be convinced by, and sing along with classics like "No Donnie, These Men Are Nihilists" and the brilliant self-empowerement anthem "Chaney Can't Quite Riff Like Helmet's Page Hamilton". Still, the performance itself is hardly anything out of the ordinary. The various members demonstrate skill and passion at their trade, delivering a professional show that offers few surprises.

Unearth

Without a doubt the most metal band on the bill, Unearth seem to have amassed the largest contingent of fans on this Copenhagen date. This band is known for their almost paralytic consistency both on record and in a live setting, so it comes as no surprise that their performance tonight proves difficult to review. On the one hand, one could not ask for a better sound or more precision, making the brilliant melodies on the likes of "My Will Be Done" and "Watch It Burn" just as intoxicating as they are on record. But on the other, delivering such complex, demanding music live is always going to be a hindrance to how wild the accompanying performance can be. This is, in my opinion, the only thing that the less accomplished metalcore bands of today do better, and something that Unearth have clearly not prioritized as high. Of course there is a time and place for every kind of show, but despite even the stunning technical prowess demonstrated by guitarists Ken Susi and Buz McGrath on "Arise the War Cry", Unearth is, and I fear always will be, difficult to appreciate without prior knowledge of the band's extensive repertoire. While their latest album, "Darkness in the Light" contains more accessible qualities such as recognisable and memorable choruses sung by Ken Susi, five of the nine songs aired - disappointingly few from a headliner - come from the first three albums, and lean on the band's heavier produce. Alas, my personal favorite "Sanctity of Brothers" is nowhere to be heard. So what is the appropriate grade for a professionally executed and skillfully played concert that feels a tad too short? According to our grading standards, that should fall on good, but not the kind you'll remember for years to come.

Setlist:

  • 01. My Will Be Done
  • 02. Giles
  • 03. Endless
  • 04. Watch It Burn
  • 05. One Step Away
  • 06. Shadows in the Light
  • 07. Zombie Autopilot
  • 08. Arise the War Cry
  • 09. The Great Dividers

Click here for more photos from the show.

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