support Piss Vortex
author AP date 09/08/14 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

In its third year now, Dirty Days of Summer is becoming something of an institution; an event onto which the Danish metal community descends in the early afternoon to feast on Southern burgers & Jambalaya, drink beer & lemonade, splash around in a children's paddle pool (yes, seriously) and listen to those subgenres within metal that typically infuse some measure of South state blues into the soundscape. The line-ups have been impressive thus far, and this year's edition is no exception, with three skyrocketing rock & metal bands each with their own distinct sound comprising the bill. The honour of opening the three-day festivities befell the Dutch sludge metal act Herder, who made a fantastic impression on me at French metal mecca Hellfest earlier in the summer.

All photos courtesy of Philip B Hansen / philipbh.com

Piss Vortex

In a bid to diversify the program as much as possible, support duty was assigned to chaotic hardcore/grindcore mob Piss Vortex, for whom The Psyke Project's Christian 'Bono' Bonnesen lends his guitar playing expertise. Well... in truth, he is no hired gun, but an integral part of the band, whose strengths, to me, rest heavily on his signature dissonant style of playing. But although it's easy to trace the six string aspects of Piss Vortex back to Bono's (soon to be defunct) main band, this quartet does have its own identity as well in the deranged aggression of their music, which manifests itself first and utmost in the bulging eyes and confrontational demeanour of vocalist Simon Stenbæk. Oscillating between grinding insanity and slower, discordant pummel interspersed here and there by rays of atmosphere, there is enough diversity in the music itself to entertain me, so that Bono's hand-reversing guitar acrobatics and a cameo from Defilementory's Thomas Fischer emerge more as the icing on the cake than definitive highlights. Convincing as it is, however, there is still work to be done in constructing a collective performance that equals the nature of the music, as it is often left to Stenbæk & bassist Rasmus Moesby to shoulder the weight of using their bodies to truly convey the music. Perhaps there'd be a reciprocal reaction from the audience as well, rather than this polite and rather subdued applause tonight.



"We are Herder, we are harder. Let's go fucking mental," fumes Ché Snelting during the early sparks of the Dutch group's pyre of mythological, hardcore laced sludge, and it's certainly not for want of trying that Herder don't quite manage to reproduce the grandeur of their Hellfest performance. The room is only half full, and inexplicably thinning with every passing song, as though the epic "Gods" or the incendiary "Stab" do nothing for a sizable portion of the people here tonight. To each their own, of course; but watching the maniacal energy of Snelting and the abuse and gradual destruction of Marc's bass guitar amidst his no less psychotic presence, it's hard to understand how there could be disagreement against the notion that Herder are an extremely captivating band to watch live - nevermind one's musical preferences.

Herder show no relent though, insisting on the expenditure of all of their energy, even in the face of a largely docile and disinterested crowd. And in the absence of the intensity and intimacy that come with a raucous interaction between band and audience, it is left to the abundance of searing riffs, and not least the hostility in songs like "Sons of Thunder", "Feet Eager to Run to Evil" and "Betrayer Deceiver" to hold my attention. That by itself is not enough however, when the atmosphere (bar that found in the songs) is this underwhelming. And while I recognise that Herder are no less enthusiastic about their music than two months ago at Hellfest, nor are they willing to compromise the way in which they like to deliver it, they're fighting an uphill battle here - one which even a show as animated as theirs cannot quite escape unscathed.


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