Suffocation

support Origin + Re-Armed + Unbreakable Hatred + Slaughter Denial
author AP date 25/07/12 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Pumpehuset is rapidly becoming the number one spot for concerts in Copenhagen. After the most recent bankruptcy, the venue has really stepped up its game, both in terms of the quality of shows and the neat ideas that keep popping up all over the venue. The newest additions are a temporary beach bar - a wonderful idea for summer shows - and a container stack featuring a smoking area and bar outside. Both ensure that the capital's death metal crowd is well and truly serviced in beer before the evening's line-up.

Slaughter Denial

While most of the audience still sits at the temporary summer bar outside, it is up to an Italian four-piece known as Slaughter Denial to open tonight's proceedings. They play a blend of death and thrash metal, with an emphasis on the former, though sadly without the knack and fervour to produce a meaningful performance. Though one cannot blame the quartet for lacking skill, the music sounds like so much else on offer these days, and really only the fourth and sixth songs (forgive me for not knowing the titles) in the set stand out; the first beginning with a sweet bass solo before rolling into a solid death metal groove that gets ten or so people headbanging instantly, the second - a new song we are told - pushing the band in a more djent-inspired direction. In terms of the mix, the vocals have been given too much prominence, with the result that a lot of the melody that seems to be the driving force behind Slaughter Denial's music unfortunately becomes obscured.

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Unbreakable Hatred

Next on is a Quebec, QC based trio professing technical death metal with a slight Misery Index influence. The mix now has been balanced to both bring out the heavy elements in the band's music and afford some much needed clarity to the high-end stuff. Musically, the band offers a far more intriguing proposition; their songs varied and full of interesting textures. But being a trio and playing technically demanding music, there isn't much in the way of an exhilirating performance taking place aside from some well-timed synchronized headbanging and the like, which, for those not acquainted with the band's music and unwilling to participate in the headbanging activities of the few upfront, means that Unbreakable Hatred fail to pierce the solid but not amazing barrier.

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Re-Armed

The final support band of the night comes from my native Finland, which naturally means that a certain level of intrigue and anticipation precedes their set - at least on my part. By now the amount of audience inside the room is at an acceptable margin, and when the five-piece enters on stage to deliver the most eclectic setlist of the night thus far, the results are immediately evident in terms of moshing and headbanging. What I note down is that the band's vocalist Jouni Matilainen draws considerable inspiration from Max Cavalera, both in terms of his blunt lyricism and the style of his hoarse shouting, and that the band's music contains more thrash and hardcore influences than death metal - at times Re-Armed even launch headfirst into old school metalcore vibes. Although Re-Armed are less technical than the preceding two bands, the presence of two guitarists, Tommi Helkalahti and EP Mäkinen, gives them more depth of sound, and thus allows the music to be enjoyed on the spot. That Matilainen makes brief comments speckled with dry Finnish humour in between the songs is a welcome addition as well given the lack of any such interaction by the two first bands. Ending the set with a barrage of Sepultura/Soulfly inspired material, Re-Armed stir the crowd just enough to prepare it for the onslaught that is to follow.

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Origin

Understandably my expectations for Origin soar sky high given their mental performance at Stengade earlier this year and an SMS from our Jutlandian scribe MST the night before, praising the Århus show of the tour as the best death metal show he has ever seen. But while the opening salvo of "Expulsion of Fury" certainly recalls the madness and intensity of the aforementioned Stengade show, it quickly becomes clear that the combination of a much larger venue and a weekday night proves too great an obstacle even for Origin to overcome. It's not that the band isn't a sight to behold on stage in accordance with their reputation; it's that virtually no one in the crowd is prepared to reciprocate that energy in the way that they did at Stengade. Seeing Mike Flores noodle ten fingers around the neck of his bass in every song; witnessing John Longstreth pummel at his kit with inhuman velocity; staring at the virtuosity with which Paul Ryan shreds his guitar; and witnessing the sheer ferocity of vocalist Jason Keyser on stage is enough on its own to provide a death metal show unlike anything you will have seen before. But the fact that the crowd is so stubborn in its unwillingness to participate - something which Keyser repeatedly tries to correct during his amusing inter-song banter - prevents it from becoming the true spectacle that an Origin show can be.

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Suffocation

The reasons for the inactivity become clear when Suffocation takes the stage, however, as the now quite sizable crowd has apparently spared all its energy for the headliners. Playing with a new drummer, Dave Culross, and a substitute vocalist, Bill Robinson of Decrepit Birth, Suffocation have much to prove tonight, and together with an enraptured crowd the quintet sends the venue traveling through more than two decades of technical and brutal death metal played with the utmost precision and professionalism. Robinson is a fine replacement for Frank Mullen, exuding furious authority with his frenetic gesticulation and diatribes against religion, and even though bassist Derek Boyer is injured and under the influence of strong pain medicine, Suffocation performs with the kind of fervour only a band with this much experience is able to. The hour-long barrage of extremity is so relentless and impressive that even someone only superficially familiar with the band's music - such as myself - is able to fully immerse him/herself in the reciprocating madness between band and audience. Evidently Copenhagen has been waiting too long to witness these veterans once again - good thing they do not fail to impress.

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Photos copyright of Rasmus Ejlersen

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