Red Fang

support The Shrine + Lord Dying
author AP date 29/03/14 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Seldom has a metal show been precede by as much hype, let alone been sold out as far in advance as Red Fang's fourth (as far as I'm aware) visit to Denmark. So anticipated was this show, in fact, that even the press list was rife to bursting, with seemingly everyone with some association to the metal scene in Denmark eager to find out what all the fuss with this Portland, OR born stoner metal quartet is about. That the whole shindig takes place on a Saturday has the fortunate (or unfortunate?) side effect of driving a significant portion of the 600-strong audience into drunken stupor to the tune of our friends from Blastbeast.dk's DJ-ing before, thus getting them very much in the mood for a trifecta of diverse metal bands.

Photos courtesy of Peter Troest

Lord Dying

As the heaviest band on the bill by some stretch, Lord Dying have the honour of lumbering the audience into submission before the evening's headliners are to woo their subjects. We are in sludge metal territory here, with some influence from hardcore and groove metal peppered onto the palette as well, with bands like Jagged Vision and The Haunted in particular coming to mind as comparable acts. Vocalist/guitarist Erik Olson has a voice to match his frame; a powerful, searing growl with a hint of shrill tones in the undercurrent, which sounds the perfect companion to the punishing, though irresistibly groovy instrumentation. It's a bit difficult to hear the finer detail in the band's music due to a less than optimal sound mix, but passages like the drum/bass driven bridge in the mid-tempo first song, the cool, textured drumming in the second, and the juxtaposition of a furious double pedal assault and doom ridden bits in the fourth making an immediate impression.

Lord Dying are not an especially animated band on stage, but they do compensate with an assortment of no frills metal assaults that often send my thoughts toward the already mentioned Haunted's gruelling "rEVOLVEr" LP - my personal favourite of theirs. While they do not cement themselves as a live act I'll be looking forward to with enthusiasm, their music boasts a quality that compels me to give their recorded output some serious spins. And when a band has that effect on me based on a short support set, then without a doubt there must be something to come for here.

7

The Shrine

Another band I am regrettably unfamiliar with, The Shrine play a sort of badass, high octane rock'n'roll with swathes of stoner that reminds me of equal parts Corrosion of Conformity and Motörhead. And with lyrics à la "We were tripping balls…" (correct me if I heard it wrong) and song introductions in the vein of "This song is for a friend who took far too much acid and became part of the living dead", there is little doubt as to their attitude: it's much more jovial and carefree than Lord Dying's dirge for example. Initially the balls-to-the-walls metal'n'roll barrage has its intrigue, but with little variety to the drug infested verse and persistently bombastic style of songs, the trio's concert has the unfortunate side effect of growing monotonous with alarming velocity. There are three songs near the end, the latter two of which I believe to be titled "The Duke" and "Primitive Blast", which base themselves more around riffs and grooves than speed and expose The Shrine's taste for lengthy, acidic jams and driving leads. But overall, this music could do with some diversity if it is to form a more lasting impression; energetic and fun though it may be, there simply aren't enough nuances in the band's music to sustain my interest beyond these three tracks.

6

Red Fang

Red Fang receive a thunderous round of applause and whistles when they make their entrance, as the downstairs bar and merchandise area is now virtually deserted. From having played at the tiny Templet in Lyngby three years ago, through a high-profile support slot with Mastodon two years ago, as well a concert at the prestigious Roskilde Festival that same year, Red Fang have come a long way in short time, and as the fan favourite "Hank is Dead" opens the proceedings, a sizable portion of the crowd explodes into a festive miasma of headbanging, moshing, pumping fists and dancing in a kind of euphoria seldom seen at these coordinates. It's impressive, and hugely gratifying to witness.

But after a while it is obvious that while the frontmost third of the venue is geared up to party, the remaining two thirds of audience crammed into the room are here because they felt they should be, given the incredulous amount of hype preceding this concert. To me, Red Fang have always been a good band with a selection of consistently good songs, and a number of instant hits like "Blood Like Cream" and "Prehistoric Dog" to their name. But they've never been extraordinary; nor have they released an album yet, with the capacity overall to sweep me off my feet. So despite the fact that tonight's showing boasts plenty of highlights, such as the mid-set trio of "No Hope", "Number Thirteen" and "Dirt Wizard", and is delivered with infectious energy, it's lacking that intimacy, nerve and intensity that sets bands apart from the host. It could be due to the masterful performance here just two days prior - courtesy of Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats - which checked all those boxes, but I suspect the real underlying reason is that Red Fang have yet to write songs that practically play themselves, weaving magic from the sheer brilliance of the songwriting rather than the enthusiasm with which they are played by the musicians.

I know I'm going against the grain here - in fact I am going against my own predictions that Red Fang were ready to pull of shows of this magnitude on their own with the release of their third album "Whales and Leeches" - but from an objective standpoint, what Red Fang muster up tonight is merely a very good show, and not the life-affirming, next-level magnificence some of the band's domestic fans seem to remember it as. But then again, at no point am I upfront, surfing over the heads of my peers or slamming into people in the pit. Up there, the show is probably all anyone could ever have asked for, and I respect that stance. But I feel as a reviewer it is my duty to offer my perception of a show as a whole, and in this respect, I cannot help but be a little disappointed at the hasty, run-of-the-mill manner in which the quartet grind through their 15-song set without offering much by way of interaction, not to mention by the dampened reaction of some 400 of the 600 attendees. I mean, "Blood Like Cream" could be the most massive metal singalong in a long time - yet most people remain silent.

Even so, there is a slight feel of specialty to this performance, however; not least because those remaining 200 people are in such ecstasy. And by incorporating an additional song, which I believe to be "Bird on Fire" off the self-titled debut album - into the encore (something the band seems not to have done on other stops of this tour thus far) just before the expected nugget of excellence that is "Prehistoric Dog", Red Fang seem to acknowledge the efforts of those fans. It's also heart warming to see how the Danish metal community have united around a band who haven't quite cashed in on their potential yet, offering them a heroes' welcome and giving it their all from start to finish. They'll be back soon for a certainty. In the end, I leave Pumpehuset satisfied with yet another strong performance by this promising band, yet without that exhilarating feeling of having witnessed something otherworldly as I did on the preceding Thursday.

8

Setlist:

  • Hank is Dead
  • Voices of the Dead
  • DOEN
  • Throw Up
  • No Hope
  • Number Thirteen
  • Dirt Wizard
  • Sharks
  • 1516
  • Into the Eye
  • Malverde
  • Crows in Swine
  • Blood Like Cream
  • Wires

--Encore--

  • Bird on Fire
  • Prehistoric Dog

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