As We Fight

support The Psyke Project + Redwood Hill
author AP date 11/11/11 venue The Rock, Copenhagen, DEN

The symbolic date of 11/11/11 turned out to be the last time I'd ever set foot inside The Rock, which has since declared bankruptcy and closed down permanently. I have watched many a great concert at the venue, partied into the early hours on countless occasions, and met an abundance of new people there since 2005, and so it is with a heavy heart that I unknowingly bid farewell to both this excellent venue and night club, and one of the most longevious bands in the Danish hardcore/metal scene, As We Fight, for whom this is the very last show ever in Copenhagen before disbanding.

Redwood Hill

Something about the dark, eerie sound of Redwood Hill speaks to me. Theirs is exactly the kind of music to silence and immerse a venue into a state of trance, with violent explosions of drop tuned noise inspired by the Psyke Project, mingling effortlessly with lingering atmospheric parts not unlike Envy. Indeed, here is a band with a level of promise seldom seen from Danish bands, their meticulously orchestrated live show belying the band's short lifespan thus far - this is only the band's third concert ever. With half the members wearing hoods and clever understated lighting and smoke screens, Redwood Hill excel at creating a lasting visual impression. There is a sense of enigma about the band that reminds me of Glassjaw (especially the bassist, who wears his instrument at chest level and uses a finger picking technique), and an air of unpredictability. It is not until halfway through the first song that I even notice the vocalist, crouched in a foetal position next to the drumkit, when he explodes into the forefront with anguished screams reminiscent of Zao and the Psyke Project. He does this repeatedly during the band's lengthy instrumental segments, which makes him look like some kind of manic, monstrous hatchling raging out in violent spasms. The whole thing is so thought through, but not to the extent that Redwood Hill's performance appears choreographed. As such, with a perfect combination of subtle visual details and music of enormous scale and scope, Redwood Hill once again cement their status as one of the absolutely most exciting metal bands in Denmark right now.

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The Psyke Project

Although practicing in similar medicine, the Psyke Project have no trouble living up to the standard just prescribed by Redwood Hill. After all, there is no band in Denmark with a live presence as exhilirating and terrifying as theirs. But it is once again set in stone that only in an intimate smaller venue does the full might of the Psyke Project come to its own, as the tall stage and reserved crowd do the band no favors. Not put off by the reaction, however, the Psyke Project give it their absolute everything as usual, playing a selection of only the heaviest, most brutal material from older albums next to the six songs from the "Ebola" split. Rarely does one witness headbanging as heavy as this, but alas, the sense of unhinged danger that tends to loom at any Psyke Project concert is not at its strongest today despite vocalist Martin Nielskov's confrontational tumble into the crowd. Even so, however, there isn't a moment of calm or a trace of fatigue to be witnessed here as the fivesome bulldozes its way through eleven fantastic songs. The choice of setlist could of course have been less predictable, but with a backlog as strong as theirs, the Psyke Project could play just about any song and still incite a riot. In comparison with their anniversary show at Stengade last year and the unbridled demonstration of power at KB18 earlier this year, however, this is tame stuff. Excellent, but nowhere near as extreme as it would have been in a smaller venue.

As We Fight

As We Fight's show is a bittersweet one. Knowing this is the last show the band will ever play in Copenhagen, there seems to be a mutual understanding between band and crowd to make this a performance to remember. Now, if you ask me, As We Fight have never proved themselves as a high grade live act despite the strength of their music, but tonight the band looks, feels and sounds different. It is of course somewhat disappointing that very few songs have made it to the setlist from the influential "Black Nails and Bloody Wrists", with the emphasis placed on more recent produce instead, but this I am willing to forgive in light of the fact that tonight, As We Fight absorb the headliner role with formidable skill. Not only is the entire crowd engaged from the get go, there is a rare and overpowering energy emanating from the band, who sound as tight as ever. Nevermind that they're not dashing into the crowd or throwing their instruments around in violent stunts, As We Fight are on fire, handling their headliner slot like a band with 10 years in the bag certainly should. The sound is crystal clear and the performance is flawless; the crowd is wild and ecstatic; and the band is clearly having a blast, wrapping their career up in A-grade fashion.

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Photos courtesy of Rasmus Ejlersen

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