Like Rats From A Sinking Ship

support Ajuna + The Revolt Of Darwin
author AP date 09/09/11 venue BETA, Copenhagen, DEN

Despite the fact that this is not the first time that Norwegian experimental hardcore act Like Rats from a Sinking Ship plays in Copenhagen, the turnout at BETA tonight is extremely low, numbering some 20 to 30 people at most, and many of these are friends of or members of the two local support bands. It would appear that Red Warszawa, who are performing simultaneously at The Rock, have managed to draw in a larger contingent of people than I had expected. But I am not one to be phased by a low turnout as long as the bands deliver. Read on to find out if they did.

The Revolt Of Darwin

If you want your crowd to be pumped before your show, you bring a band like The Revolt of Darwin as support. Here is a band that spares no energy and always guarantees an intense live experience, regardless of crowd response. As implied by my flat review of their newest album, The Revolt of Darwin are a live band first and foremost. When played to a raging crowd, the short Southern tinged hardcore bangers are ideal for facilitating an intense performance, a reputation the five-piece live up to with formidable passion. Now that vocalist Toni has shed his guitar and given it to newest member Lars, he is no longer constrained to spitting his urgent lyrics out with a fierce expression; he now has the means to distill all that energy into a raging demeanor. The other members, too, probably empowered by this newfound force, are demonstrating energy not seen as of yet from this band, who just six months ago stood largely still while punishing the shit out of their instruments. They now do this and lash out like a band possessed all at once. If there's one thing to criticize The Revolt of Darwin for, however, it is the worrying lack of variation in the band's music. Even with a performance like this, one begins to descend into a slight lull by the uncompromising, balls-to-the-walls approach employed song after song. But at the same time, it is the same balls-to-the-walls fury that makes The Revolt of Darwin such a fantastic live band.

Ajuna

The name Ajuna recently began circulating in Danish gig lists, and ever since then I've been curious to find out what kind of proposition it is. Noting the other bands on tonight's bill, my initial guess landed on some variant of hardcore, but once the band initiates their furious assault I realize that I couldn't have been more wrong. Their sound is best described as a concoction between ambient black metal and hardcore - think Solbrud meets Yersinia, wherein black metal weighs the most, featuring lengthy tremolo riffs, blastbeats and piercing shrieks not unlike those of Darkthrone. The odd bull in the line-up is the frontman, who handles the second component of vocals with a more traditional metalcore screaming technique, and spits out puzzling calls-to-arms in between songs using a power metal howl. He spends most of his stage time collapsed on the floor, which would be a cool effect were it not used as almost the sole method, but is consistantly outshadowed by one of the guitarists spitting out the aforementioned shrieks. Not that the primary vocals are technically insufficient, but the shrieks are a much better match for the primarily brooding, atmospheric, and long-winding songs. Though Ajuna handle themselves with admirable proficiency, there is still room for improvement in order to tidy up the occasional glitches and form a greater synergy between the various members. In any case, it is always a pleasure to witness Danish bands doing things a little differently.

Like Rats From A Sinking Ship

One of the most disrespectful things you can do, if you ask me, is to leave exactly before the headliners, regardless of how unknown they are, or whether you even know them. This is nonetheless what happens, as bar for the drummer and two guitarists of local boys Billy Boy in Poison, myself and our photographer are almost the only people left by the time the Norwegian underground sensation appears on stage. But rather than be discouraged by the emptiness before them, Like Rats from a Sinking Ship instead decide to treat it as though it were full, putting on a raging performance during their faster, Converge-inspired songs, and appearing supremely confident during their slower, more experimental parts. Despite counting only three members - a vocalist/keyboardist/occasional guitarist, a guitarist, and a drummer - the racket this trio is able to kick up is truly impressive. One might expect the limited number of musicians to equate to a static live presence, but as already mentioned, this is not the case at all. Guitars are punished, the keyboard is slammed with fists, and strings are rubbed against amps for extra feedback, giving the band a suitable, slightly deranged appearance. Like Rats from a Sinking Ship have an uncanny sense of when to go batshit and when to refrain from doing so and stand in lulling stillness, making their show both refined and unpredictable. Had a slightly larger proportion of the already tiny initial crowd decided to stay and watch, the passion emanating from the stage could have transformed the venue into an equally raging maelstrom of bodies.

Setlist:

  • 01. Beneath a Plastic Sun
  • 02. Smash the Crystal Larynx!
  • 03. Honk If You're a Nihilist
  • 04. Peace, Love & Bankruptcy
  • 05. Mørketid
  • 06. One Bird in the Hand is Worth Nothing
  • 07. Lesson #9
  • 08. From Russia with Crabs
  • 09. UNDR3553D 4 5UCC355

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