The New Shit Showcase

support EVRA + Sunken + L.A. Collection + Decay Of Existence + Bersærk + Mental Coma
author AP date 11/01/14 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Last year, Danish metal webzine Blastbeast.dk stapled together "The New Shit" concept, which involves the bimonthly presentation of an inexperienced Danish band from the rock or metal underground. To commemorate its anniversary, the duo behind the medium - Alexander Kolby and Søren Weiss Kristiansen - decided to host a showcase for the six bands featured last year; one which witnessed an impressive turnout of some 250 paying guests, curious to discover what the next big thing in Danish rock or metal might be.

All photos courtesy of Kenny Swan

Mental Coma

It's a good idea to initiate the proceedings with a genre that virtually every metal head in Denmark has an affinity for: thrash. Mental Coma, from the Copenhagen suburb of Værløse, play this tried and tested genre with a tried and tested formula, looking backwards for their influences and refusing outright to inject any notion of the new shit implied by the event's title. It is especially the teutonic variant of the genre that pops into mind via songs like "Nuclear Assault" (really?, could this title be more stereotypical?), its intensity undermined only by a pressing lack of low end in the mix. True such issues are gradually corrected by tonight's engineer, but even the twist of self-irony in vocalist/rhythm guitarist Simon Nedev's asking whether the band should play something slow, for the ladies, and then proceeding to blast through possibly the fastest song thus far in "The Forgotten Ones"; nor the liveliness of lead guitarist and backing vocalist Anton Pedersen is enough to sway my impression that Mental Coma are still very much in the process of sounding out their identity. For now, it all sounds a tad too similar to the likes of Destruction, Heathen and Sodom - hell, even the domestic sensation Essence. AP

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Bersærk

Might as well lay it on the line: Bersærk are, by a stretch, the most impressive band on the bill tonight. Sung entirely Danish, their concoction of sludge and heritage rock, which vocalist Casper Roland Popp refers to as "Jutlandian tractor-rock", endears the venue in a heartbeat, sounding every bit like Magtens Korridorer jamming Queens of the Stone Age, and injected a touch of the funky guitarwork of one Tom Morello. The rhythms are as quirky as they are compelling; the riffs out of this world; the alternation between the heavy, sludgy foundation and almost punky choruses sublime; and, as my colleague Tim Larsen points out, the go-ahead attitude suggests Bersærk sport balls the size of basketballs. It's good ol' honest rock'n'roll that has the audience headbanging in unison with instant effect.

It happens only rarely that a band entirely unfamiliar to me even by name, manages to shatter all of my preconceptions about Danish metal and send me thinking, "this, this is going to be huge". Granted, huge is an extremely relative word in the context of the Danish metal scene, but such feelings I can only remember procuring courtesy of Förtress, Mountaineer, Pet the Preacher and Redwood Hill. But Bersærk play with such bravado, and bring to the table songs with such immediate quality, that one needs to be either deaf or daft not to see the merit in it. Add to their musical accomplishments the fact that their demeanor on stage, too, leaves little to be desired, with bassist Bastian Popp and guitarist Lars Evers in particular showing us where our money went. AP

Decay Of Existence

Blastbeast.dk was not having a laugh when they dubbed the Copenhagen born quintet Decay of Existence one of the most brutal things they'd ever heard, and if their self-categorisation as slamming brutal death metal leaves you skeptical as to whether or not this can be true, then the music itself, inspired in particular by the harrowing gore of Bloodbath and Cannibal Corpse, should erase all doubt. With songs given amicable titles like "Dismantling the Prostitute", "Asphyxiated in Fecal Matter" and of course "Cradle Fuckfest", Decay of Existence are a band who pride themselves on uncompromising brutality and themes which could, in select countries around the world, result in the public execution of these five youngsters.

Jack Papp Fahlberg Christensen's guttural growls are so low they're barely audible amidst the instrumentation at times, and even if they weren't, it would be a small gain given that he might as well be spewing gibberish into the mic and we'd be none the wiser. What Decay of Existence profess is the very definition of an acquired taste, and sadly it is not a taste which I have acquired. There are solid grooves to be heard here and there that tempt me into headbanging and the band members certainly look the part, all menacing glares; but excuse me if I'd rather spend my dime on songs that don't feature drowning in a pile of shit. To each his own, I suppose. AP

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L.A. Collection

Here's another band whose moniker tells you all you need to know. You guessed it: capital city misfits L.A. Collection distill their sound from the sleazy AC/DC-ripping rock'n'roll that constitutes much of the soundtrack at our beloved High Voltage night club. Indeed, they're a band who excel in the art of deviancy, buoyant riffs, and big sing-songs; and out of the six bands featured tonight, they're the ones who look most weathered and deliver the most professional performance. The sound mix is nigh perfect, and the band's energy through the roof. But despite the ease at which their songs can be enjoyed, I suffer from the nagging sensation that L.A. Collection are as generic as they come, and while there might be a market for these types of groups in partying up drunken bar- and nightclub audiences, I have great difficult in seeing what L.A. Collection hope to bring to the table that countless others of their sort already haven't. Still, they're an infectious live act, and with music this honest and good natured, it's difficult not to enjoy it, at least on some basal level. AP

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Sunken

Bias alert: our own Martin Skyum Thomasen is the vocalist of Sunken, an Århusian atmospheric black metal outfit. But this does not change the objective fact that Sunken are, regardless of what my personal relationship with Skyum may be, an extremely rehearsed proposition, with songs of a quality that belies their short existence. The tone is wonderfully melancholic - depressive, even; and Skyum's shrill screaming sounds like shards of ice battering the eardrums. That is, Sunken possess that undeniably Nordic touch which evokes images perpetually grey and gloomy (think of bands like Solbrud and, to some extent, Ajuna for apt references); the occasional rhythm and tempo shifts raining down with all the power of colossal crashing pine trees. It doesn't take a genius to decipher that Sunken have spent a considerable amount of time in their practice space, perfecting not only their song-writing abilities, but also their capabilities as a magnetic live act. And that bassist Andreas Tagmose Grønkjær is even playing albeit seated - he is ill with mononucleosis, we are told - suggests here is a band with a hard working ethic. AP

EVRA

By the time rising Copenhagen groovy hardcore quintet EVRA are scheduled to appear, AP decides to tag me (TL) in for the reviewing duty. The young band only just formed last year and yet this is their last show in town before already heading out on a scamper across Europe at large along with Hexis. Having only really known them so far for the "Destroy/Rebuild" single they're pushing at the moment, I'm impressed from the offset by the band's energetic performance. Clearly some Chariot live footage has been studied to pick up some fundamentals as the five locals handle their tools while in constant movement. Guitarist Emil flails his guitar around as much as possible while playing confidently, while bassist Ole takes every opportunity to raise his instrument as high towards the ceiling as he can reach, swinging his strumming hand around in a full arc to strike notes powerfully.

Unfortunately for EVRA, the mix is as dirty as the band's image, so if you're still standing back only modestly drunk, the more distinct parts of Bak's at time inventive guitar movements drown out in the wild spectacle. It's hard then to discern exactly what it is about the music that's behind the EVRA t-shirt being represented strongly in tonight's audience, but when you consider how drummer Nicholas is barely containing himself from coming over his kit to get at the audience, and how singer Frederik is constantly looming over the edge of the stage, screaming in a vivid audience's welcoming faces, there's an intensity here that feels special.

It makes me wonder if it's purely live energy, similarly to what drives a band like Cancer Bats, who's represented on Emil's t-shirt, or if it's something that'll also find expression on future recorded material. Are EVRA going to be "just" a volatile live experience, or are they going to snowball into a significant local phenomenon? So far it's hard to say in regards to the latter, but the former they certainly are already, judging from tonight's rampant blast of energy, where only the newest guitarist Marc looks like someone who's still being careful to play things right. The lack of finer points in the listening experience is hence unfortunate, but they become a detail in the overall display of youthful power and intensity that caps off a promising forecast of what the Danish heavy scene will thrive on in times to come. TL

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