Black Christmas

support The Psyke Project + Redwood Hill + Ajuna + Église + Hexis
author AP date 07/12/12 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

Black Christmas is a concept envisioned by the Danish post-metal group The Psyke Project; an evening curated by the band, during which four underground acts handpicked by them are given the opportunity to showcase their music. Each band's performance is preceded by a short introduction by a member of TPP, during which they explain how they came across the band in question, and why they believe that band is worth keeping an eye out for.

Like the photos? Check out more by Rasmus Ejlersen

Filip of Hexis

Hexis

Following half an hour or so of DJ:ing by yours truly and a new writer from Devilution.dk, the evening's first band takes to the stage. Testing the capabilities of Beta's impressive sound system, Hexis turn the volume up to max and deliver their punishing blend of black metal and hardcore in total darkness - that is, with the exception of the array of strobe lights set up behind their drummer Simon, which sends short pulses of flickering purple and white light into our retinas every now and then. The effect is interesting, as we only see glimpses of the silhouettes of the band members moving in what appears as slow-motion, vocalist Filip in particular looking like some sort of demonic phantom as a consequence of his energetic stage presence. Once again, however, there is no smoke machine here to complete the visual aesthetic, which would be the icing on the cake. But even so, it is hard not to be blown back by the sheer volume, extremity and energy of this unique live act.

Michael of Église

Église

Second in line is a band I've seen mentioned on the capital city venue listings quite a few times over the past few years, but nonetheless one I've yet to experience live. The volume remains cranked to max with these boys too, with the effect that even with concert earplugs the noise is, at times, deafening. Église play a distinctly British brand of hardcore not too distant from the likes of Bastions, Goodtime Boys and Let's Talk Daggers. It is dissonant, chaotic and full of energy that manifests itself as a surprisingly captivating performance by such a young band. Halfway through the set, their vocalist Michael takes to moshing on the floor, eventually crashing into a good-looking young lady upfront; the two then collapse onto the floor in unison, Michael on top of her, whilst he screams the last lines of the song literally into her mouth - a scene that recalls the mental performances I've seen by The Chariot and, to some extent, The Dillinger Escape Plan. With this show, Église make an immediate and lasting impression on me as an extremely promising ensemble of musicians, and I will certainly be keeping an eye on them from now on.

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Bassist of Ajuna

Ajuna

Ajuna have calmed down considerably since the first two times I saw them live, with especially vocalist Anders presenting himself much less as a drunken maniac this time. Gone are his frequent ventures into the audience; in their place is a visibly more mature mainman, who distills all that passion into a vocal performance that oozes conviction. Since those first two times, it also seems that Ajuna have embraced their black metal influences to a greater extent, with every song tonight reminding me more of the Norwegian black metal scene than of the band's supposed hardcore stylings. Bathed in dim blue light throughout, Ajuna whip up an encompassing atmosphere of cold darkness that serves their music better than the frantic stage antics Anders used to gather infamy for.

Redwood Hill

Redwood Hill already became something of a protegé for TPP last year, when a few members of that band were in attendance at their support gig for Envy, and as such, it is hardly a surprise that they have been selected for tonight's showcase as well. It's getting to the point where I'll eat something inedible the time Redwood Hill put on a disappointing, or even average performance, as once again, this quintet proves why they are absolutely one of the most exciting prospects in Danish metal right now. Their music is dark, depressing and utterly beautiful, combining elements of post- and black metal to create their own, unique sound. The atmosphere and huge soundscape they toy with on songs like "Nadir" and the brilliant duo "Poseidon" and "Dybbuk" is complemented by a performance that must be one of the most meticulously designed in the country.

Marco Sewohlof Redwood Hill

If you've seen them before, you'll know that vocalist Marco Sewohl curls himself into a foetal position somewhere in the back every time his fellow musicians embark on an instrumental passage, only to explode into life when his vocals come into play again; just as you'll know that the musicians have an uncanny awareness of when to release bursts of energy, and when to restrain themselves for a quiet, clean part, such as that serving as the interlude in "Dybbuk". The lighting, too, reflects the mood of the music, which in itself is of a quality that would go down well in a live setting regardless of what the band do on stage.

Martin Nielskov of The Psyke Project in his element.

The Psyke Project

TPP use tonight as an opportunity to tease their new album, which they hope to release sometime in May, treating us to two brand new songs, both of which recall the psychotic intensity of their pre-"Dead Storm" days. Needless to say, the audience is... enamored is perhaps the wrong word to use for describing the reaction of the audience, but I'm sure there is a certain degree of love towards this band involved in the madness on the floor. The Psyke Project live up to their name as unquestionably the best live band in the country with a wildly confrontational performance that, among other things, sees vocalist Martin Nielskov dive into the crowd on multiple occasions and have his shirt literally ripped off his skin. "That's okay, it was an old shirt anyway", he remarks, before telling us the next song will be "In the Mist", driving the audience into a dangerous-looking frenzy.

It's a short but sweet reminder that TPP are still very much alive, not to mention a satisfying sneak peek into what their new material is going to sound like. Based on my impressions, those who swear by "Daikini" and "Apnea" are the ones that will find it most endearing, though knowing this band to be expert song-smiths and ones to appreciate diversity, there will undoubtedly be stuff reminiscent of "Dead Storm" and the "Ebola" split with As We Fight, too.

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