August Burns Red

support The Devil Wears Prada + Veil Of Maya
author AP date 07/11/12 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Evening two of a coincidental metalcore extravaganza in Copenhagen boded three bands with a more technical and scene-friendly take on the genre: August Burns Red, The Devil Wears Prada & Veil of Maya. Though the crowd numbers at no more than 300 by my estimation, the concert is to take place on the upstairs stage of Pumpehuset - a sizable upgrade for the evening's first act Veil of Maya, who performed downstairs in this very venue just six months ago on their own headlining tour. They are back so soon because Whitechapel were forced to drop out of the tour and a replacement was required.

All photos by Lykke Nielsen

Marc Okubo of Veil Of Maya

Veil Of Maya

Knowing what to expect this time, Veil of Maya don't make quite as powerful an impact on me as they did in May. But with a fine selection of songs once again, including highlights such as "The Glass Slide" and "Punisher" off the latest record "Eclipse", as well as the older "Crawl Back" and "It's Not Safe to Swim Today", there is little at fault with the band. We are treated to a solid helping of groovy chug, technical virtuosity and individual performances that speak of a band infatuated by their own music. The four of them, particularly guitarist Marc Okubo and bassist Danny Hauser - with his enormous seven string bass making quite an impression again - are completely lost in the groove, their movements and facial expressions dictated by the rhythm of the music. They don't seem to notice or care that only a tiny handful of crowd members are showing any real response to the show - the hallmark of a band whose performances are not dependent on the audience; only their own, personal enjoyment of playing. Vocalist Brandon Butler repeatedly makes an attempt to rile up the crowd, but his pleas are futile, as the only time the audience actually wakes up and breaks first into a wall of death and then a moshpit, is during the aforementioned "It's Not Safe to Swim Today". Regardless, however, Veil of Maya cement themselves as a quality live act yet again, though it isn't quite the spectacle that it was back in May.

Mike Hranica of The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada

Now, here's a band I've never found any affection for. Everything about The Devil Wears Prada strikes me as juvenile and riding on current fads. That is, until the much loved "Zombie" EP was released two years ago to introduce a previously unheard darkness and maturity to the music - even if the EP conceptually dealt with a zombie outbreak. As such, it should come as no surprise that the two songs aired from that record - "Escape" and "Outnumbered" - are among the best picks on tonight's setlist. "Dez Moines" also makes an impression; the rest, however, is not the type of music I could ever consider listening to outside of a concert, with songs like "Assistant to the Regional Manager" and "Mammoth" in particular drawing on every metalcore cliché. But be that as it may, there is no denying that The Devil Wears Prada are an excellent live act. Not only does frontman Mike Hranica seem to have a far greater influence on the proceedings on the floor than Butler did just before; the band is also considerably livelier on stage, with moments of calm few and far in between. Were it not for the constant, unbearable barrage of monstrously heavy breakdowns dotting their songs and distracting my attention from what could otherwise be sound compositions ("Danger: Wildman" is a good example), I might even go as far as to say that in the live setting, The Devil Wears Prada is one of the most exhilirating metalcore bands out there right now. If they continue on the darker, heavier path of "Zombie" and last year's "Dead Throne" LP, which both showcase a more grown up version of the band, the future should bode well for them.

Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red

August Burns Red

August Burns Red, too, have grown up since the admittedly excellent sophomore "Messengers", with their best material coming from the two most recent outings "Leveler" and "Constellations". Here is another band that loves a good breakdown more often than is reasonable or healthy, but unlike The Devil Wears Prada, for whom breakdowns are merely a tool to drive crowds into a frenzy, August Burns Red use them intelligently, and back them up with brilliant guitar leads so that even in their least impressive moments, the songs never wind up frustrating.

It seems that August Burns Red are well aware of the critical acclaim that has followed them since their debut album "Thrill Seeker", which is why only one song from that record, "Barbarian", has found its way into tonight's setlist. The rest divides itself nicely between the remaining three, and unsurprisingly it is songs like "Internal Cannon" and "Cutting the Ties" from the most recent "Leveler", with their jazzy interludes and progressive vibe, that prove most popular tonight. The always powerful "Meddler", the beautiful "Salt & Light", as well as the newfound crowd-pleaser "Empire" also provide chilling reminders of the talent underlying this band's music; something that lead guitarist JB Brukaber seems to pride himself on, as he regularly stands on a pedestal to show off his vigorous finger movement on the fretboard. Jake Luhrs on the vocals is also his usual imposing self, towering over the audience as if we were his personal orchestra and he the bandmaster; while rhythm guitarist Brent Rambler is slightly more reserved, preferring to leave the spotlight for the others - not that his contributions should be belittled in any way.

Dustin Davidson of August Burns Red

The consummate highlight of the performance, for me, comes when the guitarists and Luhrs smoothly exit during the dying embers of "Leveler", leaving only bassist Dustin Davidson and drummer Matt Greiner to pull off one of the most scintillating drum solos - or, I suppose in this case, duos that I have ever seen. It's one with a slightly tribal vibe, during which the two switch between playing the smaller kit upfront and the actual kit in the back - without ever stopping the drumming! With the wealth of texture brought in by cowbells, tom toms, cymbals and snare, the duo becomes almost a song in itself, and it is lapped up by an enraptured audience. Very nice. The rest of the band then returns on stage following a brief encore, to finish things off in style with the aforementioned "Empire" and "White Washed", putting a nice final touch to what has been an excellent performance.

8

Setlist:

  • Composure
  • The Eleventh Hour
  • Internal Cannon
  • Cutting the Ties
  • Mariana's Trench
  • Divisions
  • Barbarian
  • Carpe Diem
  • Meddler
  • Ocean of Apathy
  • Salt & Light
  • Back Burner
  • Leveler
  • Drum Duo by Dustin Davidson and Matt Greiner

--Encore--

  • Empire
  • White Washed

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