Hatesphere

support Helhorse + Defecto
author AP date 21/04/12 venue Templet, Lyngby, DEN

It was a last minute decision for me to head out to Lyngby on this cold April evening, precipitated by a scheduling conflict. Originally my plan had been to check out the Copenhagen date of this tour at Lille Vega on the 10th of May, but given that a sweet post-rock/metal showcase featuring Nadja, The Ascent of Everest and Solbrud is taking place that day, the only nearby show left on "The Great Bludgeoning Tour" was this one.

Defecto

In charge of opening the proceedings is the hitherto unknown Defecto, whose convincing and technically competent display belies their young age. With one foot in hard rock and the other in symphonic metal, Defecto are the archetypical Napalm Records band, but in contrast with many of their German peers, there is something utterly mesmerizing about this quartet - at least on stage. Vocalist/guitarist Nicklas Sonne leads the pack with charisma and surprisingly competent singing (plus the occasional screaming), remember always to thank the crowd for their support, introduce the band's songs, and rocking out in a manner not unlike Lasse Skov of Danish thrash metal hopefuls Essence. To his right, Frederik Duus Møller handles the abundant leads and solos with a finesse seldom seen by musicians of his age; behind him Lars Jensen is evidently having a blast pounding the skins; and on his left, Thomas Bartholin plucks the six strings on his massive bass guitar with confounding expertise. So even though the music itself resides far outside my own interests, it is impossible not be taken aback by a performance this solid. If the band can consistently muster up shows like this, it should not be unthinkable that Defecto have a genuine shot at securing one of the two tickets to the W:O:A Metal Battle final at Pumpehuset on May 5th when they contest with Barricade, Cold Night For Alligators, Trusted Few and What Worms Inherit in the last qualifying round at Gimle in Roskilde in two weeks.

Helhorse

But while Defecto set the bar high for the two more established acts on the bill tonight, Helhorse can seldom be outclassed in a concert. It is my humble opinion that this sextet is one of the most promising and exciting bands in the country right now, and their blues tinged hardcore, sludge and doom is certainly apt enough to challenge the likes of Church of Misery, Crowbar and Down. As such, it comes as no surprise that Helhorse once again stage a formidable performance. The interplay between Mikkel Wad Larsen's gruff, powerful singing and Aske Kristiansen's piercing screams is at an all time high, while a dynamic setlist, pulsating with brooding atmospherics, as in the likes of "The Last Tempation"; dense grooves à la "Black Weed"; and urgently thumping Southern hardcore bangers like "Djöfullin er Danskur", ensures plenty of variety to keep those less familiar with the band fixated on the band throughout.

One of the most satisfying things about Helhorse is that their music can be digested on two separate, if intertwining planes. On the one hand you have one of the most passionate and energetic live bands in Denmark, ensuring that no performance enthusiast is left cold; and on the other you have a band with a formidable knack for writing great songs. Some of them are richly textured and progressive in nature; others bent on crushing heaviness; and still others provide brief fixes of hardcore fury, and yet all of them converge at a red chord that defines the unique and immediately distinguishable Helhorse sound. And If the two new songs aired tonight, "Like the Devil" and "Tamed" are any indication, then then band's sophomore album, which they plan to begin recording in June and strive to have in stores early next year, will take that sound to the next level and cement Helhorse's status as the premier sludge/Southern hardcore band in the country.

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Hatesphere

Hatesphere are renowned for two things: frequent line-up changes and persistence. Tonight marks my third time watching them live (the first time in almost three years), and of the five band members facing me I recognize only two: guitarists Peter Lyse Hansen, founder and longest standing member, and Jakob Nyholm, who entered the band in 2007 following his departure from Danish death metal icons Dawn of Demise; the rest of the line-up is completed by drummer Mike Park Nielsen, vocalist Esben Elnegaard Kjær Hansen, and bassist Jimmy Nedergaard and who joined the pack in 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively. As such I have never seen the band more than once with the same vocalist - the first time it was Jacob Bredahl, whose piercing high-pitch screams helped define the band's sound until his departure in 2007, and the second time it was Jonathan Albrechtsen, the current vocalist of Scarred by Beauty.

With all this in mind it is especially impressive that none of the magic that Hatesphere have inflicted on venues throughout their career has been lost in the member shuffling; they still perform with glee and execute old and new songs alike with unwavering precision. Hatesphere have never been ones to throw themselves around on stage, but what they lack in histrionics they make up for with an imposing presence, headbanging and windmilling like madmen and frequently leaning into the foremost members of the audience. As a long time Hatesphere fan it is a pleasure to discover the band armed with a setlist that stretches across their career, with "Bloodsoil" representing the very early material; the trio "Hell is Here", "Kicking Ahead" and "Disbeliever" showcasing the best of my favorite album "Bloodred Hatred"; "500 Dead People" from "Ballet of the Brute" driving the moshers into a frenzy; "The Coming of Chaos", "Heaven is Ready to Fall" and "Sickness Within" taking us through some of the most brutal material the band has written to date on the phenomenal "Sickness Within" album; "Floating", "Let Them Hate", "Drinking with the King of the Dead" and "Forever" war exposing the band's experimental traits; and "The Killer", "Resurrect with a Vengeance" and "Need to Kill" providing welcome blasts from last year's "The Great Bludgeoning", the namesake for this tour. It is curious that nothing from "To the Nines" has made it on the list, as many of those songs looked certain to become live staples judging from the previous show I saw in 2009, but with such a strong setlist it is difficult to complain about it.

It is the band's eagerness to explore fresh territory with each new release, without overstepping the boundaries of their distinct style and sound, that has always enticed me, and even though the furious thrash influenced pummeling of the bass drum and hollow snare does get a little bit repetitive at times, and even though the sound mix could afford more prominence to the lead melodies, there is hardly a moment of boredom of lull to be frowned upon during the 15 songs played. On the other hand, Hatesphere have never been ones to surprise, settling instead for delivering their songs with the utmost proficiency, and tonight is no exception. Hatesphere do what they do best, but for the weathered concert goer it would be a welcome addition to introduce an element of unpredictability to the band's live dogma.

8

Setlist:

  • The Killer
  • 500 Dead People
  • Floating
  • Resurrect with a Vengeance
  • The Coming of Chaos
  • Let Them Hate
  • Bloodsoil
  • Hell is Here
  • Drinking with the King of the Dead
  • Forever War
  • Heaven is Ready to Fall
  • Kicking Ahead
  • Need to Kill
  • Disbeliever
  • Sickness Within

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