Spirits of the Dead

support Bite the Bullet
author BV date 10/05/13 venue BETA, Copenhagen, DEN

As the fresh, yet gusty, Friday night air hit me in the face whilst I was riding my bike across Copenhagen to catch yet another show at Beta, it dawned on me that this might just be one of those nights where nothing out of the ordinary would happen, and the show would probably be good but not great for me, as I had not previously acquainted myself with either band of the night. – Luckily however, despite relatively low expectations, I had two quite cool gigs in store.

All photos courtesy of Kenny Swan

Paw Eriksen of Bite the Bullet

Bite the Bullet

Despite my lack of familiarity with the first band, I quickly realized that Bite the Bullet contained no less than three previous members of Highway Child, a former live-favorite of mine, and as such my expectations quickly rose from there. Bite the Bullet is riff-rock in all its simplicity and catchiness and as such, the fuzzy bass grooves and the reverb-drenched, crunchy guitar riffs are the foundation for this ‘easy-to-learn but hard-to-master’ form of songwriting and I am delighted to see that the catchiness and raw power of Highway Child lives on in yet another project. Throughout the performance, the band showed a tremendous amount of stage presence and at several times I found myself pondering whether or not the performance would have made the same impact without the maniacal gestures and the ridiculous amount of ‘power-stands’ – probably not, as they are a tremendous part of riff-rock when it comes to the live setting – these outbursts of energy were particularly abundant throughout the excessively long but really cool track “I Will Not Die” where Bite the Bullet also achieved a sort of climax for the night, as the grooves of each instrument lock tightly on to each other, reaching a near-perfect symbiosis of sounds to support the raw power of the vocalist – who was by far the biggest surprise this evening, as his vocal prowess was absolutely remarkable. As Bite the Bullet’s 40-minute slot drew to a close, I found myself wanting more – just the way a good show should end.

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Ragnar Vikse of Spirits of the Dead

Spirits of the Dead

The second band of the night, the headliner if you will, took stage at about 23:00. Where the previous act had shown their mighty prowess in the art of simplistic and catchy riff-rock, Spirits of the Dead had something completely different, yet somewhat related, in store. I had previously been told that Spirits of the Dead was a progressive act that tends to favor long instrumental passages – the information would prove to be ridiculously spot-on as the show progressed. From the first note played, it was abundantly clear that, even though the band was gazing inwards to focus on the music and the expression of it, they were never too far away to interact with the audience – as could be experience throughout the lengthy instrumental passages of the track “Spirits of the Dead” where singer Ragnar Vikse would, more often than not, walk around between the audience members while quietly chanting the vocals, and spellbinding the audience in the process. Where the guitar sounds were my primary focus while Bite the Bullet played their set, it soon dawned on me that the lengthy jams of Spirits of the Dead were prone to show an abundance in sophisticated yet efficient drumming techniques, where the work on the hi-hat was of particular interest to me. Nonetheless, the guitar-work was by no means inferior to that of Bite the Bullet, as the cascading sounds of the crunchy tape echoes rang throughout the venue with a simplicity as well as an elegance to them, that I honestly didn’t expect to experience on this particular night.

Ole Øvstedal of Spirits of the Dead

As Spirits of the Dead’s show progressed, the songs, as well as the perfectly sculpted soundscape (kudos to Beta’s sound-tech), slowly but steadily lulled me into the state of a mild trance where I had long since abandoned the notion of compiling a set-list, in favor of ‘floating away’ to some neat and trippy tunes whilst slowly starting to wonder why there weren’t more people present for this. However, despite the relatively poor turnout, it seemed clear by this point that the few people who actually dared to come out for the gig were having a great time. As Spirits of the Dead wrapped up their show a few minutes past midnight, I felt completely chilled out and I realized that I had just experienced two acts that I need to be following more closely, if their studio-work is of the same high quality as their live shows.

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