Vildhjarta

support Billy Boy In Poison + EVRA + Ghost Iris
author AP date 02/08/14 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

Summer is always a little thin on concerts of the rock and metal sort here in Copenhagen, so we thought we'd chip in with one of our own, managing to convince the enigmatic Vildhjarta to cut their Spanish weekend short and fly in for an exclusive show. And, knowing the loyalty of their fans especially in Sweden, we thought it might be prudent also to present a number of exciting local acts for them, both to boost their exposure and, well… because we feel the three bands have huge potential. Thus it came to be that in the pressing heat of this early August day, 150 or so fans of the -core end of metal gathered at KB18 to observe what was hopefully going to be an invigorating, special concert.

All photos courtesy of Philip B Hansen / philipbh.com

Ghost Iris

Charged with opening the proceedings are Ghost Iris (known formerly as The Monolith), whose expression immediately reminds me of Periphery, whom vocalist Jesper Vicencio Gün openly admires. Both guitarists (the band lists their bassist as Pro-Tools) have that distinct way of movement those familiar with Periphery will know from their lead guitarist Misha Mansoor; a subtle and kind of arrogant groove that goes hand-in-hand with djent based riffs. The first two songs proceed very much within the realm of such riffs, Nicklas & Peter abstaining from the technical and/or proggy leads that you'd typically find colouring the soundscape in this genre, and while I find myself lamenting the decision somewhat, it is fortunate that Ghost Iris have in Gün a fantastic frontman, whose growls, (surprisingly) impressive clean vocals and energy on stage quickly steal the show. Gün often stretches to the very limits of his vocal capabilities much in the vein of Spencer Sotelo, but above all it is his maniacal presence on stage that cements him as a force to reckon with; and when the melodies do enter the fray from the third track onwards accompanied by some ambitious rhythmic ideas courtesy of drummer Sebastian, all seems to fall into place. Rounding off the set is first an older song, which exposes a much darker and more breakdown laden approach sticking out like a sore thumb from the otherwise bright tone of Ghost Iris' music; as well as the first single "Dreamless State", which concludes the show in some style. Unfortunately for the band, the audience, though polite and full of cheers in between songs, does little to reciprocate Gün's energy. But as Ghost Iris build their repertoire and play more shows, surely the crowds will find their tradecraft increasingly irresistible and contribute to shaping some seriously scintillating performances in the future.

7

EVRA

Oh, the irony. Eleven months ago I slaughtered these poor fellows at this same venue for coming out of their rehearsal space a little too early, and in that period they've absolutely been ripping it, first at at Blastbeast.dk's New Shit Showcase and then prestigiously at this year's Copenhell. Either my criticisms were taken to heart or used as fuel for a fuck you! reaction, but the fact remains that EVRA have, in a short period of time, grown into one of the most explosive live acts Denmark has to offer. Tonight introduces no exemption to that claim. As they're slamming through their set with all the vigour of Cancer Bats or Every Time I Die, the only thing I can muster is: "Is this even the same band I saw last year?" So stark are the improvements they've undergone.

EVRA have perfected their dirty Southern fried twang into songs that grab you by the collar and rustle every inch of sweat out of you with the aid of a performance laden to the brim with raw energy. Vocalist Frederik Emborg Pedersen is everywhere, flying off the drumkit, screaming into our faces whilst pacing amongst the audience, and looking like a man with enough wrath in his heart to catalyse an explosive reaction; and his compatriots, guitarists Emil Gjerulff Bak & Marc Lennart Christensen, bassist Ole Swartz and drummer Nicholas Meents aren't lagging behind. What unfolds here is the very epitome of a dingy hardcore show, all sweat, violently banging heads and destructive stage moves hindered only by a persistently unresponsive audience. Add a sizable moshpit to this and it would be absolutely phenomenal.

Billy Boy In Poison

In the space of the next 15 minutes, there is a notable change. People seem to be more eager, perhaps gearing up in anticipation of the evening's headliner, and thus more willing to expend some energy when main support Billy Boy in Poison takes the stage. Their brutal-to-the-bone meshwork of death metal and extreme-end metalcore claims full and immediate ownership of the audience with instant effect, and unsurprisingly so: not one of the five guys on stage is holding back. Guitarist Alexander Mortensen is assuming weird, maniacal and thoroughly amusing face expressions as he strikes his guitar with brutal intent; his brother Niclas is slamming his skins with such ferocity (and joy!) you're afraid something might break; vocalist Steven Borgwardt is exerting his authority with an imposing, demonic attitude; and guitarist Mikkel Ellung Larsen & bassist Troels Lehmann look to be having the time of their lives before an audience caught in a mosh.

Billy Boy in Poison are closing in on 10 years as a band now, and it shows. Seldom does one witness a band exuding such confidence, playing with such passion, conviction and precision, and having such control over their crowd as BBiP, and with songs as well written as "Corrupted Into Slaves" and "Decadent God", there really is very little to put a finger on here tonight. Shed the headliner, and BBiP would be able to pull the weight of the concert on their own, and judging from the raucous mass of people giving it their all in front of them, a sizable portion of which no doubt belongs to Vildhjarta, they quite probably leave here with a host of new fans in their tow.

8

Vildhjarta

As the only band to enlist the full extent of KB18's lighting rig, and needless to say (despite its rather barren appearance) it immediately adds another dimension to the proceedings. Vildhjarta are without their bassist tonight due to the birth of his child recently, but it hardly matters given the band's two-pronged 7-string guitar setup - there is plenty of low end here still. There have been times at this venue when such would inevitably have resulted in a muddy mix, but tonight the sound is - if not entirely clear in all of its aspects - more than reasonable, allowing the disturbing melodies to permeate the thick wall of djent-y low end rumble emanating from the two guitarists' instruments and add to Vildhjarta's show a character of insanity, like the soundtrack to a horror movie set in some former mental asylum. With no light on their faces, Vildhjarta certainly look menacing, pillars of LED light flickering behind them as the two vocalists growl their mass at us and drive the audience into a serious frenzy.

Indeed, the entire front half of the crowd is engaged, and without the additional lighting usually illuminating the band from the front, the darkness that also defines Vildhjarta's music, it all looks as terrifying as it does mysterious. Vildhjarta, like the similarly disposed Meshuggah, have never been a maelstrom on stage, but they possess a unique ability to conjure an atmosphere. Their slow, felt movements are a deliberate part of this, the deep headbanging etcetera accentuating the weight of their music. Sadly, however, Vildhjarta restrict their show to just 40 minutes, meaning that a number of excellent tracks aren't aired. At the same time, the performance ends at a time when people haven't had their fix just yet, meaning that there is an air of disappointment emanating from many a fan's expression - especially as the calls for an encore go unsatisfied. It's our own fault perhaps, for packing too many bands into too crammed a timeframe, but on the other hand, this way diversity of the bill was maximised. So while this is certainly far from an awful showing, Vildhjarta are capable of much more.

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