Decapitated

support Aborted + Fleshgod Apocalypse + Cyanide Serenity + Archspire
author MGA date 22/11/11 venue The Rock, Copenhagen, DEN

When I got the last minute call to go see The Decimation of Europe tour headlined by Copenhagen, I was excited for the more obvious reasons; Decapitated is legendary, Fleshgod Apocalypse are the 'it' band of death metal right now (if death metal is allowed to have 'it' bands, that is), etc. But after arriving at The Rock, I was informed by Rockfreaks photographer Rasmus that there was another reason to be thankful for our presence at the show on that Tuesday evening – rumor had it that this was going to be one of the last shows that The Rock would ever have. About a day later the rumors were confirmed, and while the Decapitated show wasn’t the absolute last concert at The Rock, by my estimation it was the last metal show. Without farther ado, I give you a review of the last metal show at Copenhagen's The Rock.

Cyanide Serenity

Because I only made it to the venue in time to hear what literally amounted to the final growl of Archspire's set, that obviously isn’t even a fraction of enough of a performance to type out a review to. Because of this, we’ll move on to Cyanide Serenity, a UK death metal band with heavy doses of –core in their onslaught.

As they blistered through their set, it was clear that nearly the entire audience had not only never heard the band's music before, but had probably never even heard of the band. I hadn’t. And beyond the two or three 15-16 year old guys headbanging while clutching the monitors in front of them, no one from the crowd would be going home that evening to search up Cyanide Serenity on iTunes, or even attempt to download their music for free. Maybe it was the fact that it was a Tuesday night (something the frontman frequently attributed to the lack of energy, though this sounded like more of a reassurance for himself than anything) that resulted in such a docile audience, but I suspect it has more to do with the music.

Cyanide Serenity play admirable death metal, but there is nothing about it to set it apart from several hundred death metal bands chasing the metalcore niche. The only thing that really broke the band out of a sea of also-rans were the clean vocals… and this was not in a good way. The clean vocals were extremely out of place, and I’m not entirely sure why they were even included within the songs; it didn’t fit the track, and it pretty obviously didn't fit the persona, style, or vibe of the bald frontman. You’re not As I Lay Dying… you’re touring with Decapitated!

A saving grace for the band was the vocalist personally thanking the few guys headbanging towards the front after their set for caring and showing some support. This was classy, and while it has no impact on the quality of Cynaide Serenity's sound, I do wish them well.

Fleshgod Apocalypse

And now, for something the people actually cared about. Italy's Fleshgod Apocalypse have been making waves for a couple years now, but right now those waves have finally gone from light ripples to ten foot swells. Having toured the United States earlier this year on the Summer Slaughter tour behind their latest album, "Agony," Fleshgod Apocalypse have turned heads with something that I think can really only be described as symphonic technical death metal.

I'll be blunt; Fleshgod Apocalypse is a solid live band, but they're a bit neutered in the live setting. While the operatic clean vocals are executed surprisingly well live, the classical music samples and keyboards really become buried beneath the double bass and dirty-yet-exacting riffage. While it was disappointing that this element of Fleshgod Apocalypse was fairly absent, it did leave behind a more than capable death metal band that not only sounded good, but looked great in their old, wrinkled suits. And it was for Fleshgod Apocalypse that the crowd awoke from their catatonic state.

Of interest was the fact that so many people had purchased FA shirts prior to their set and were wearing them; these were people that had already been converted to the symphonic death metal even before hearing a note of them live. Imagine how many people could have been turned in their favor by their live performance. If I was Fleshgod Apocalypse, I would be very excited – the future almost certainly sees them headlining within a couple years, and for good reason.

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Aborted

I’ve never listened to Aborted before, and after seeing their live performance the question is whether I would seek them out on my own, online. Two years ago, yes – today, no. This is less a reflection of Aborted and more a reflection on the development and fluidity of my own personal tastes, so by no means is it a knock on the band.

Aborted plays a brand of death metal rooted within the old-school vain, and they’re proud of that. In fact, the vocalist straight up asked if the crowd was "ready for some fucking old-school death metal." The answer was yes! But one exclamation point was not good enough, so the captain of Aborted reverted back to that strategy the teacher uses to get little kids excited. "Whoa, what was that? I guess you guys don’t want some old-school death metal. I’ll give you guys one more chance… do you guys want some fucking old-school death metal!?" YEEESSS!! Seriously though, I hate this technique. I thought it was lame when I was a little kid, and I think it's lame now. But I do have to give credit where credit is due – it worked.

And while it took a significant amount of prompting from the frontman to get the crowd going, eventually there was a fair sized pit, for a Tuesday night. This was the excuse every band continued to fall back on; the fact that it was a Tuesday night and that’s why the audience wasn't going out of its mind.

After playing a set of old-school death metal that actually had some '90s grind flavoring to it, the frontman invited the crowd to start stage diving and crowd surfing for their last song. It was like fan appreciation night… first the singer for Cyanide Serenity thanks a few kids for giving a shit, now Aborted is inviting kids to briefly share the stage with them before launching themselves into a mass of people. I really like this. Maybe it's because ticket prices are more expensive in Europe than in the US, but this was definitely a nice change of pace for me. It went above a beyond the usual "and by the way, thanks to the fans. We wouldn’t be here without you" generic schtick that gets trotted out.

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Decapitated

And finally, it was time to get Decapitated. The history of Decapitated is pretty infamous; one of about three bands people can name from Poland, the band has had a high rate of band member turnover and bad luck, often combined. A few years ago the band lost founding member and drummer Vitek in a van crash, and vocalist Covan left the band due to the injuries he sustained in the same wreck. The result is a Decapitated that has largely been stripped away of its original members, with only guitar mastermind Vogg remaining. But this is one of those bands where one member really is the band. Vogg is to Decapitated what Dave Mustaine is to Megadeth. Those that surround both really only amount to hired hands.

The hired hands in Decapitated are quite good. Vocalist Rasta was impressive in his ability to not only belt out the vocals on their latest record, "Carnival is Forever", but also perform older classics prior to his tenure in the band like “Day 69”. Vogg primarily relegated himself to the side of the stage and let Rasta lead the evening, something which struck me as strange considering Vogg's role in the band. But after thinking about this for a bit, I came upon a conclusion; while Vogg may be the star, I think it’s pretty clear that he wants Decapitated to be a normal, functioning band – not a legacy act. So while he does carry that legacy within him, he still is just the guitarist, and it's not like his handpicked vocalist is going to play second fiddle during a life performance.

Plus, why should he? Rasta is a great frontman. There's nothing quite like the thought of wondering if you’re going to get hit in the face with someone’s dreadlocks while they headbang.

There was one, poignant moment that I feel sums the night up best that occurred at the end of Decapitated's set. While Rasta was sharing the mic with audience members standing up front (fan appreciation night, remember?), there was a little boy that must have been around 10 years old wearing a Carnifex beanie and a way-too-big Carnifex t-shirt. Rasta, vocalist for an absolutely lengendary death metal band, held the mic downwards towards him with a very non-death metal smile on his face, and the kid wearing merchandise of a horrible deathcore band – but obviously still on the right musical track – did his best to growl into it. He gave a sheepish grin and Rasta beamed a bit, and then went back to growling like a pro to finish the song. It may have been a Tuesday, the crowd may have collectively been lukewarm, but all was right in the world of extreme music.

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Photos courtesy of Rasmus Ejlersen

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