Scarred By Beauty

support Road To Manila + Mountaineer + Lost In Despair
author AP date 30/05/14 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

One of two hardcore themed events taking place in Copenhagen this warm and sunny Friday, the "HxC Backyard BBQ" concept still managed to draw a sizable crowd to the dingy confines of KB18, with some 150 (possibly more) largely inked up boys and girls casually lounging outside the venue, grilling and drinking beers as I arrive. Sadly, I seem to be tardy, as upon entering KB18 I find, to my dismay, that the evening's first act Embracing Sickness, who from what I manage to hear of them sound much like Hundredth, are just finishing their last song. "Shame on you," I think to myself, as that one song sounds hugely promising and the band looks to be beaming with energy. No use crying over spilt milk, however; so I arm myself with a Tuborg Classic, join the lounging outside and prepare myself for the second band.

All photos courtesy of Stefan Frank thor Straten

Lost In Despair

If Embracing Sickness, from my brief encounter, sounded a lot like Hundredth, then the idolatry reaches new heights with Lost In Despair, who look, sound & behave exactly like Parkway Drive. Though that by itself is not necessarily a thumbs-down in my book provided the music is played with flair and prowess, this five-piece seems not to have taken into account the adverse effects of having no monitors (all of the shows tonight are played on the floor, with only the drummers situated on stage), with the result that guitarists Mads Risbjerg Andersen & Klaus Kristoffersen, as well as bassist Jakob Gundgaard Hansen are perennially out of sync with Tore Knudsen's percussion - not by much, but enough to to introduce a feeling that Lost In Despair aren't the tightest bunch out there.

Be that as it may, the band, completed by vocalist Peter, do their utmost to stage an impressive performance at least, with Gundgaard Hansen in particular pulling off some slick antics, such as the metalcore staple static running, violently swinging his instrument and headbanging enthusiastically. The songs themselves sound decent, and naturally familiar given their close relation to the band's Australian source of inspiration. It's easy to get into (ignoring the lack of sync), and with an August Burns Red element pervading a number of the tracks as well, such as "Bright Side", there's sufficient diversity present as well to keep me interested throughout. There is promise to this band, but they must work on their symbiosis and on writing personal and instantly recognisable songs before they're ready for the next level.

7

Mountaineer

Mountaineer are on that level. From the very outset, the Copenhagen based melodic hardcore/wave crew look and sound like a band well beyond their years, surging back and forth with expressions that suggest they're here to set the place on fire. Despite waving goodbye to vocalist Johannes Emil Hansen a few months ago, the man persists at the helm tonight, frequently charging in and out of the audience with an expression of impassioned anguish, sharing the microphone with various people, and generally ticking all the right boxes from hardcore vocalist manual. Indeed, there's a proper hardcore feel to these proceedings, with the level of energy, courtesy of both band and audience, so thick and intense you can practically touch it and taste it.

Guitarists Steven Singh & Dennis Hursid look inflamed, as do bassist Emil Rømer and electronics dude Jesper Ager, and in keeping with the melancholy nature of Mountaineer's music, their faces are contorted rather into anguish and anger than euphoria; the passion and belief they have in their own songs stands second to none. Still, it's drummer Mathias Jaque who steals the show tonight with a seldom seen display of inspired, and almost frighteningly tight drumming that gives songs like "Courageous" that extra notch needed to cement this as probably the best show Mountaineer have put on to date.

8

Road To Manila

When Fredericia born Road To Manila take to the stage, things take a turn for the more extreme, with a large moshpit - the first of the evening discounting a single karate-swinging kid during the previous set - exploding into action almost immediately. This is a proper floor show, band and audience blending into one seething mass of fists, screams and crowd surfers, vocalist Nicolai Lindegaard often extending his microphone to a member of what seems to be a crowd full of people intimately familiar with the band's lyrics. Road To Manila's Architects-inspired music (in its contemporary revision, mind you; it used to be pure bred deathcore a few years back) forms the perfect bridge between the hardcore stylings of Mountaineer and the metalcore that is to come with the evening's headliners, and it's hard to resist the allure of the mayhem unfolding before my eyes for these 30 minutes. Songs like "Faults" sound as good as ever, though as with the vast majority of Danish -core bands, Road To Manila are a phenomenon best experienced live, as their songs are not yet of a quality that would give them the necessary leverage to succeed abroad.

8

Scarred By Beauty

Up until this point, the level of musicianship, songwriting and performances have been unusually high for an all-Danish, five-band hardcore/metalcore bill. But those heights get a significant push still, when metalcore stalwarts Scarred By Beauty deliver a lesson for the four others. It's easy to see the group, fronted by Jonathan 'Joller' Albrechtsen and completed by guitarists Daniel Leszkowicz & Asser Topp-Mortensen, bassist Chris Kreutzfeldt, and drummer Dennis Leszkowicz; have been touring Europe multiple times by now. Theirs is international class metalcore without aping some more established band, and when it comes to the way in which they perform… well, there's no band like them in Denmark.

One could say this is a concert shaped very much by crowd participation - and true enough, most of the serious action in happening crowd side. But these boys carry themselves with such charisma, flair and maturity it would be remiss to dismiss their qualities as a live band and claim it's the audience that makes tonight's show the maelstrom it is. Joller is an absolutely terrific frontman, equal parts imposing and intimate, his bulky frame and authoritative presence reminding me of Brandan Schieppati and the now-jailed Tim Lambesis; and his fellow band members play with a tightness that should have most aspiring musicians greening with envy.

Scarred By Beauty's music is of a nature to offer headbanging, moshing and stomping opportunities galore, and these are warmly welcomed by an audience riled up and ready to destroy. Hardly a moment goes by without a body flying in this direction or that, Joller surfing the crowd knocking down front lights, or growling duties being shared amongst Joller and various members of the crowd; and the whole thing just has that sweaty, intense basement feel that has the capacity to make hardcore shows extraordinary. Though their set is shorter than I expected, it's a deeply satisfying barrage of metalcore, and a timely reminder in these days of criticism aimed at a stagnating Danish metal scene, that there are still a number of absolutely phenomenal bands in this country.

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