Morbus Chron

support Necrowretch + Reverie
author AP date 24/03/14 venue Stengade, Copenhagen, DEN

When our metal writer extraordinaire, Ellis 'EW' Woolley, recommends a metal band, the chances of that band not rocking are extremely slim. That is why I find myself at Spillestedet Stengade this cold Monday evening in the company of our photographer Philip B. Hansen, having been implored by Mr. Woolley to check out the rising Swedish death metal sensation Morbus Chron in his own absence. But before them, true to the Killtown Bookings tradition there is a local 'K-town' band on the bill, as well as the French outfit Necrowretch, both tasked with riling up what looks to be a rather scant audience tonight, numbering at 50 at the very most.

All photos by Philip B. Hansen


It is always a pleasure to see the support these 'K-town' bands receive here in Copenhagen, and Reverie are no exception, commanding perhaps the most populous audience tonight. Their entrance is as nonchalant as it gets: the lights dim, the music is turned off, and the three members on stage - the guitarist, bassist and drummer - take their time tuning their instruments in silence. It all seems a little awkward until their vocalist, wearing a necklace constructed from sizable bones, charges in and leads the quartet into a solid half an hour of punishing blackened death metal of a surprisingly high order.

The sound mix borders on perfect, with the thick groove laden riffs, rumbling bass lines, devastating blastbeats and deranged vocals all precariously balanced to produce a muscular, yet full fledged soundscape that the one demo on the band's Bandcamp does no justice to. Reverie play and perform like a much more seasoned band than the fact that said demo was released only last summer might suggest, with the vocalist, guitarist and drummer all exuding energy and looking delightfully immersed in the evil of their music (the bassist spends a little too much time looking timid, staring at his instrument for my liking, but I suspect this will change as the band's experience grows).

There is a distinct Absu-meets-Behemoth-meets-Hate feel to this, discounting the lack of corpse paint on any of the members, who look more like Norwegian black metal truists out of character than vessels for music like this. They vary the style, tempo and dynamics enough to sustain my interest throughout, and especially the second and last songs aired near the magnificent. This is dark, intense stuff, yet one might still wish for some form of crowd interaction to happen; as it is now, not a word is uttered before, during or after the set, with the group's vocalist even exiting the stage before the final song has concluded. A positive surprise, and a promising start to the evening this is.


Necrowretch, from Valence in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, are up next, and to me, it is almost instantly clear this trio will have the least to offer tonight. There is little by way of movement in vocalist/guitarist Vlad and bassist Amphycion (drummer Ilmar, however, is going at it pretty hard), and although that by itself is not necessarily an issue when dealing with death metal, their music does little to improve the underwhelming sensation in me. They deal in blackened death metal, but with a considerably stronger influence from thrash than Reverie just before, sounding a little like Aura Noir to my admittedly unversed ears. Sadly, virtually all of Necrowretch's music follows the same basic formula of thundering blastbeats and tremolo melodies which, while decent, even impressive at times; grows tiresome faster than a conversation with a door. I am also not too fond of Vlad's exhale-based, monotonous growling style, which sounds more like a raspy whisper than the powerful roar you would expect to hear in this genre - something he also uses to address the audience in rather comical fashion. There is promise here, as the melodies do have character, but the concert is simply too repetitive to keep me interested for very long.


Morbus Chron

By the time the Swedish headliners take to the stage, the amount of people in the venue has shriveled to a shameful low - this despite the fact that Stengade had ensured the headliner would not be starting much later than 22:30 much to the welcome of my Tuesday morning self. Even so, however, the fivesome appear to take no notice, clustering themselves at the center of stage in an unorthodox constellation rather than the typical standing-in-a-row setup and proceeding, via a short intro, to deliver the excellent progressive death metal piece "Chains" off their most recent album "Sweven". The BTBAM nuances of that song are even more prominent in the live setting, with Dag Landin's bass assuming a front role in its traversing structure.

Having shuffled their influences around a bit from debut to sophomore, Morbus Chron have the advantage of coming across as extremely eclectic, with squealing Slayer solos intertwining themselves with charges of abyssal tremolo and explorative prog. This allows Morbus Chron to diversify their set to a high extent, sounding absolutely brutal here, and completely spaced out there. Someone once labeled it psychedelic death metal, and as I watch some of these songs being played, I am inclined to agree with that strange label. They neither look nor sound traditional, vocalist Robert Andersson (who has shed his guitar and brought a touring guitarist along instead) looking not at all dissimilar to one Dave Mustaine with his curly bangs, and the rest of the band having all the semblance of a heritage rock/metal outfit.

Faced with a docile audience, no doubt still weary from the weekend's festivities, these proceedings aren't as intense as I had grown to expect having listened to "Sweven" multiple times prior to the show. But Morbus Chron aren't defeatists, and they play with spirit and passion, albeit that the set appears to be cut short due to the circumstances. As the concert progresses, a good portion of people do seem to be getting more involved in this, however, and feeding off whatever little reaction they can get, Morbus Chron grow livelier, too. Be that as it may, while this is not the most enticing concert I've seen, I remain thoroughly entertained by the band's energetic demeanor, and not least by the quality of their music, and I expect they've got much more in them given a better outset.

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