support Helhorse
author AP date 05/08/12 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

On this second day of the premiere edition of Dirty Days of Summer (click here for a review of the first day), yours truly had been invited to provide a barrage of southern, sludge and rock'n'roll tunes while guests feasted on savoury spare ribs and Jambalaya - the signature dish of New Orleans. This was a unique opportunity to bring out some of the more dusty parts of my music collection and give people a solid soundtrack to the southern themed evening, and personally I had a brilliant time; made even more brilliant, of course, by the two great performances by Helhorse and Crowbar. Below you will find my thoughts on those.


Helhorse have already established themselves as one of the leading live acts in the country, so it comes as hardly a surprise that their performance tonight is impressive. But when assessed against the show they played at Loppen in June to promote their sophomore album, the woes of a support gig such as this become abundantly clear. The audience, undoubtedly here for Crowbar only, is hard to carck, and although Helhorse give it their absolute everything, especially the two vocalists Mikkel Wad Larsen and Aske Kristiansen, and the band's energy level goes through the roof, one is still left with the nagging sensation that this is not quite as exhilirating as the aforementioned show. Still, what you have in Helhorse is an extremely talented and professional ensemble of musicians, who will not let such aspects set them back. The setlist, which includes a solid selection of picks from the as-of-yet unreleased new album speckled among the usual classics like "Death Rde", "Black Weed" and "Last Tempation", is expertly composed and the songs are played with the utmost precision, so really there is very little to complain about here. The fantastic thing about Helhorse is that even though you've seen them probably several times within the space of a year, there is always something fresh about their performances. They combine well written songs with a liveliness seldom seen from other Danish bands.


Crowbar is, for all intents and purposes, like an institution, and their cult following is one of the most dedicated of its kind. As such, it is to be expected that the venue is maxed out by the time these four ancient gentlemen casually stride onto the stage. These are not slim gentlemen by any measure, so the level of energy is not nearly on par with what we've just seen Helhorse muster up. But they play with a kind of conviction, and perform with a kind of charisma that lets them establish complete superiority over the crowd whilst maintaining a warm and intimate presence. And their songs are so unbelievably heavy, and laden with so much sweet groove that you would have to be a massive elitist, or slightly backward, to not find aspects in both their performance and music that you can savour.

This is of course a somewhat modified rendition of what Crowbar used to be, given the newer additions to the line-up: Matthew Brunson of Kingdom of Sorrow on guitar, Patrick Bruders of Down on bass, and Tommy Buckley of Soilent Green on drums. None of these three featured in frontman and living legend Kirk Windstein's original 1989 line-up; however, it takes no time whatsoever before their worthiness as current members of Crowbar is proven to the fullest extent. Playing a great selection of songs from the band's extensive discography, including a handful of picks from this year's "Sever the Wicked Hand", the band leans up close and personal, driving almost the entirety of Beta into headbanging as deep and heavy as the subject matter of Windstein's lyrics.

One of my personal highlights of the evening comes with the classic "Planets Collide" with its maelstrom of crushing power and melody, and even though Crowbar push on more or less as long as they please to play the longest set of this even, there is never a moment of lull or boredom pecking out your attention. The quartet mows through the venue like a freight train with supreme focus to ensure that every one of the 150 attendees is given their money's worth. It's a great performance, though it would undoubtedly be even greater were I a bigger fan of this band, as the sheer weight of many of the songs demands some sort of prior experience with them in order to fully understand and appreciate.


Photos copyright of Rasmus Ejlersen

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