Gojira

support Trepalium + Klone
author AP date 02/11/12 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Ever since its re-opening last year, Pumpehuset has been producing a steady string of excellent metal line-ups almost as an apology to those of us left aggravated by the untimely closure of The Rock, which used to be the mecca for those types of concerts. One of the latest notches to this string was the return of the mighty Gojira, who are starting to become a serious contender for a place among the Big Four of our generation, next to Lamb of God and Mastodon. Granted, they're not on a comparable scale yet, considering they're playing the 600-capacity Pumpehuset instead of the 2500-capacity Store Vega where the aforementioned two have recently been seen, but the show tonight is sold out in advance, and that is a clear testimony to the growing popularity of the French band (I mean, they played at Loppen a year-and-a-half ago!).

Want photos? Our friend Peter Troest has more over at his website

Klone

Klone

Tonight's support force consists of two French bands hand-picked by the members of Gojira, the first of which is the symphonic progressive rock band Klone. Given that Gojira pride themselves on non-conformity, it is not exactly surprising that they should have chosen a band of such a vastly different style to carry out the warm-up duties, but even so, the music of Klone strikes me as extremely bizarre under the metallic circumstances tonight. They could be described as a groovier take on Tool with overt symphonic tendencies, and as such bear a certain degree of similarity with the local Defecto, who have been making waves in Denmark of late. It takes me a while to acclimatize to Klone's strange mix of influences, but a few songs in it starts to make more sense, with especially the inclusion of a saxophone, wind controller and various keyboard samples adding a touch of distinction to the band's music.

But even if the music cannot convince the entire audience of its merits, Klone also boast a formidable performance so to provide another angle of approach for those people. There isn't a moment of calm to be witnessed among guitarists Guillaume Bernard and Mika Moreau, and bassist Jean Etienne Maillard, constantly throwing themselves and their instruments around on stage in a display that belies the introverted nature of the band's music, while vocalist Jean Etienne Maillard exudes passion with his unique stage personality - it is nigh impossible to take one's eyes off Maillard even with the rest of the band as energetic as they are, due in part to his excellent singing, but mostly to his ability to come across as a slightly eccentric, artsy type much in the vein of Maynard James Keenan.

Trepalium

Trepalium

The next French collective on the bill is a far more punishing affair, drawing heavy influence from the masters of groove metal, Lamb of God. As such the music is hardly innovative. But where it lacks in freshness it makes up for in intensity; something that the audience quickly picks up on to stage the first moshing of the evening. Trepalium's presence is not as reliant on the visual aesthetic as was the case with Klone, though they have erected two grim reapers on either side of the drumkit for extra atmosphere, presenting itself instead through solid metal songs that cannot be ignored. There is a brilliant element of jazz present in many of the songs that removes the serious business problem that often plagues bands of this nature - something that really becomes evident when a hooded clown appears on stage to deliver vocals that sound curiously much like rapping in on the stongs, and when the band wrap their set up with "Insane Architect", an amusing, yet thoroughly enjoyable cocktail of jazz, funk and metal that has the audience dancing. There isn't much else to be said about Trepalium as they aren't on stage particularly long, but if groove metal à la Lamb of God and A Life Once Lost is your thang, then perhaps you should consider checking out Trepalium as well. Apparently they are all the rage back in France.

7

Gojira

Gojira

While we wait frustratingly long for Gojira's set to begin, fellow writer Alex 'AZ' Zafirov and I discuss the importance in metal of creating a visual impression as well as an auditory one and conclude that the bands that put even a little effort into the former tend almost inalienably to produce the better concert than those that are content with providing only the latter. And when the lights finally dim, we cannot but hold our breath at the beautiful backdrop Gojira have created for this tour: a black curtain littered with LED lights in various sizes and brightnesses hangs behind the stage, and a white luminescent replica of the tree-brain artwork from the band's most recent opus "L'Enfant Sauvage" has been positioned in the center on top of it (it doubles as a projection screen in many of the songs played tonight, displaying moving pictures of natural scenery to coincide with the thematic material of the band's music). So certainly the visual impression is in order tonight. No harsh words can be said of the sound mix either, as everything resonating from the speakers sounds crystal clear and no instrument is obscured by the other.

Once the Ennio Morricone style outro of opening track "Explosia" fades out, the feeling in the venue seems to be that this promises to be an excellent concert. Indeed, Gojira do not disappoint. During the following "Flying Whales" we are given another tour of just what it is that makes Gojira such a fantastic live act - what, in my opinion, earned them the distinction of one of the two best shows at Copenhell last summer. You see, with all of the other bands that play comparable music (Meshuggah, say) there is hardly ever any movement on stage, as the various musicians are too preoccupied with delivering time-defying riffs and rhythms to also be thinking about swinging their instruments around, staging mental jumps off stage equipment à la The Dillinger Escape Plan, or smiling exuberantly at the crowd from the sheer pleasure of being able to play for them. But with Gojira, all of these things are commonplace. During the less demanding bits we are given energetic glimpses of chaos; during the more complicated bits we must see ourselves content with Gojira just headbanging madly, leaning over the barrier, and punishing their instruments with devilish force.

A fine display it is, then, and it is made only better by the fantastic setlist that has been put together for us for this tour. It includes the best picks from all of the band's four albums, with the ever-brilliant chugfests of "Backbone", "The Heaviest Matter of the Universe"; the progressive magnificence of "The Art of Dying" and "Oroborus"; the lonesome vastness of "The Axe" and encore piece "The Gift of Guilt"; and the hard-hitting fan favorite and ordinary set closer "Vacuity" providing a near-constant string of highlights, interrupted only by the somewhat less impressive duo "Tron" and "Wisdom Comes" midset. Apart from those, no issues present themselves during the near two-hour concert - though it must be said that it never approaches the madness and brilliance of their performance at Copenhell.

Setlist:

  • Explosia
  • Flying Whales
  • Backbone
  • The Heaviest Matter of the Universe
  • L'Enfant Sauvage
  • The Art of Dying
  • Toxic Garbage Island
  • Tron
  • Wisdom Comes
  • Oroborus
  • Drum Solo by Mario Duplantier
  • Clone
  • The Axe
  • Vacuity

--Encore--

  • The Gift of Guilt

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