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Copenhell 2011 - concert descriptions

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    Posted: 19 Jun 2011 at 5:33am
The following artists were billed for this year's Copenhell Festival:

  • KORN
  • GWAR
Coffin Joe and I went and here are my impressions of the shows we saw (needless to say, with such a bill, we did not catch all gigs).

Kyuss Lives!
A lot of people came to Copenhell with the only purpose of seeing Kuyss. Unfortunately, the band were stuck in some airport in Canada because there was a strike going on. The had to cancel, and obviously that left a lot of people really disappointed. I was not disappointed though, because the Copenhell people brought in the best replacement ever, and a total surprise - namely, thrash metal legends Artillery. Apparently, the band was asked to play at Copenhell two hours before taking the stage. So they literally came straight from their sofas at home - actually, one of their guitarists looked like he'd been lying on the couch napping only to suddenly find himself on stage. But Artillery rocked totally. They blazed through their set, which included some tracks from the new album as well as "When Death Comes" and "1000 Devils" and some old classics like "By Inheritance", "Khomaniac", "Terror Squad" and so on. They looked like they had a lot of fun onstage - especially Peter Thorslund, who did a lot of pranks on his bandmates during the show. Artillery came, saw and conquered! Now, a lot of Kyuss fans have obviously taken up the role as detractors and given Artillery some flak online, but it's not Artillery's fault that Kyuss get stuck in some airport somewhere, and I think that Artillery deserve a lot of respect for taking stage (having two hours to prepare) and delivering a great show. Being a big Artillery fan myself, I felt like I was given a Christmas present when they suddenly popped in on stage, and what was the biggest let-down ever for Kuyss devotees, became the most positive Copenhell experience to me (and, besides, I think that Artillery should have been on the bill anyway, given that they are Denmark's thrash metal pride).

I just caught a couple of songs from Helhorse, who played on the small stage for upcoming artists. Their groovy and heavy sludgy metal with influences from Southern rock surely moved the crowd, and they strike me as being a very good live band. Their music, which at times sounds like Led Zep on steroids and at times like Sabbath on speed, has an inherent groovy quality which lends itself perfectly for live performance, because it is really easy to headband, jump around, and mosh to. The world should keeps its eyes on Helhorse in the future.

The Burning
A modern Danish thrash metal act, The Burning rocked the house with their groovy brand of thrash metal, and fired up a small but very enthusiastic crowd. It also seems that they got a number of potential new fans that evening. I certainly noticed a lot of people standing around, raising their eyebrows, bobbing their heads along to the groove while exchanging gestured of approval with their friends. And this is the ultimate victory for any band isn't it? Anyway, musically, The Burning performed very well, playing songs from even early releases, and their usual nonsensical stage banter and chaotic interactions on stage added an extra layer of entertainment - I actually quite liked how this band managed to make their audience laugh during an otherwise brutal and moshing-inspiring metal gig (and, yes, their act was chaotic, but they performed their songs very solidly, not missing a beat or a groove).

Opeth took stage and delivered their dark and progressive death metal, accompanied by Mikael Åkerfelt's usual geeky stage banter. He managed to even lecture the crowd about King Diamond. While Opeth performed solidly and professionally, like they always do, I think that the sound was perhaps too thin, or probably simply not loud enough. I heard some mumbling in the back among certain people complaining how Opeth's music lacked balls. Now, that's obviously not true, because if you know the band and have their CDs, you will know that Opeth certainly have balls and that there is plenty of brutality to their music, but for some reason that brutality did not manifest itself that night to people who were not already into the band. I actually got into Opeth after having experienced them live some years ago myself, so I know that they are not a weak live band - and their Copenhell performance was not weak; it was solid and professional, as I said, and they obviously had a tight grip on all their fans who really enjoyed experiencing Opeth's complex, dark, progressive death metal being performed live - their sound guy, I guess, just did not manage to capture certain aspects of their music and translate it onto people who were not familiar with the band. Personally, I enjoyed their show.

Baptized In Blood
I'd never heard this Canadian band before - I'd never even heard their name - so I decided to go and check them out. And I am glad I did. They totally delivered and, with their modern-meets-traditional thrash metal, they really inspired some serious headbanging in the crowd. Their sound was big, and they were not afraid to thrash about on stage themselves. I detected similar reactions among the crows as I did with The Burning, so I think that a bunch of people will very soon join the ranks of Baptized In Blood fans.

The kings of nu metal gave their fans a string of hits. I was never a big Korn fan, but I can see how the heavy and groovy bass lines work brilliantly live. What fascinated me the most, however, was the drummer. That guy was awesome!

Deicide initially attracted a lot of people, but I think that most of the crowd were just there to check out this band who, back in the day, were known for not just musical extremities, but for Glenn Benton's extreme personality. This is how the show went. The band got onstage and then the massacre started. Playing one brutal blastbeat-filled song after another, only interrupted by the occasional "Thank you", and "The next song is called...", Deicide delivered a cold and brutal show. Now this appealed to their hardcore fans, who enjoyed the show very much. But the crowd slowly thinned out, as Deicide scared away people who did not understand their brand of metal. Deicide delivered one of the most brutal shows at Copenhell this year - and that is what their fans really appreciate.

Judas Priest
Priest delivered. They always do. Always professional, and with a nice varied repertoire of songs, Priest did what Priest do best. They delivered the goods. I personally appreciate that they played tracks from their less popular releases, such as "Turbo Lover" from "Turbo". Interesting this song was one of the songs that elicited the most cheers from the audience (at least the audience in the same place where I was standing). It looked like all the members of the band enjoyed being on stage, and the new guitarist just fit into the whole Priest machine. With all due respect to KK Downing and all that he's done for Priest, I did not miss him onstage that evening. Of course, it is going to be interesting to see if his absence is felt on their next album - I hope that the new guys will be brought into the writing process and contribute to the Priest. I just skimmed a review of Prist's show deriding them for being Spinal Tap-like; I think that the reviewer may have misunderstood the whole idea of Priest's show - the very essence of a Priest show is that larger-than-life thing, and Priest's show was larger than life. They actually deserve praise for being Spinal Tap-like.

Anvil's gig was the first gig of the second day that I caught. Unfortunately, we were stuck in public transportation, so we missed the first 20 minutes of the show, but that's okay. We caught most of it. This was pure rock 'n' roll energy with long guitar solos (of course involving a dildo and what not), drum solos, stage banter, and a couple of mistimed notes. Pure rock 'n' roll! Anvil's gig was a really enjoyable and entertaining show, and I am really happy that I got to experience these legends live. Later Lips and Rob appeared in the DOX:HELL makeshift cinema to do a brief Q&A, and they appeared totally down to earth, and, in a touching moment, they did a group hug with a dedicated Anvil fan. Great guys. Great metal. All rock 'n' roll.

Doctor Midnight & the Mercy Cult
This new group has performed at several rock festivals all over Scandinavia this summer, and now it was Copenhell's turn. Their songs generally are very live concert friendly, but the chose to open the one track that isn't - and so it took a couple of songs to get the energy level up. But once they reached that level, they were unstoppable and they managed to capture the unique energy that characterizes their debut album "I Declare: Treason", and they also made it very apparent during the show that they are very experienced musicians. All dressed in black with punky hairdos, they have a certain kind of futuresque sophisticated post-industrial punk look to them, which added a fitting visual aspect to their show. I must say that I think there was way too much talk between songs, but given that they only have one album's worth of songs, it is understandable - maybe, there will be less talk and more playing when they have released their next album. All in all, DMTMC did a very good show, though, and deserve praise for their Copenhell performance.

Protest the Hero
Protest the Hero attracted quite a big crowd, and the tore the house down with their hyper technical progressive metalcore. It was very impressive that they could pull off that sort of technical music live. I hadn't heard them before, but they certainly got my interest - for a while. As their show went along, I started to suffer from the non-fan syndrome of not being able to recognize the songs, and my attention slowly started to drift away from their performance and towards other features of the Copenhell landscape. But, still, I intend to check out some of their releases, so they did leave a positive impression on me. And most of the crowd seemed really pleased with their performance, so Protest the Hero's mission was a success, I guess.

This was another band I had never heard before. Kvelertak's style blends punk rock, hard rock and black metal, and it worked beautifully. Their show was characterized by great energy, and it seemed like they were genuinely enjoying themselves onstage. The crowd obviously loved them, and I think that this is because Kvelertak have managed to take the best of all three worlds - that is all those things from punk, hard rock, and black metal which work live - and combine them into ass-kicking headbanging raw rock 'n' roll. And kick ass is what Kvelertak did a Copenhell.

The New Low
The New Low performed on the stage for upcoming acts, and I caught a couple of songs. Their style is a type of crossover thrash with a lot of references to Sepultura's death-thrash and tribal-groove-metal periods. Inheriting the simplicity and aggression of punk music, The New Low's music emanates a primitive energy and groove, which lends itself perfectly for live performances in front of a pumped audience. I certainly will check out this band in the future - crossover fans should keep an eye out for The New Low.

Like Deicide, Mayheme delivered an ultra brutal concert, but with Attila's vampiric stage persona, there was a certain theatrical thing going on (an acquaintance of mine described the band as a comic book band on the basis of this factor). From beginning to end, Mayhem blastbeated their way through their set - which their fans, of course, absolutely loved. Like Deicide, Mayhem also managed to scare away most of the uninitiated audience, and I heard one guy confess that he simply did not understand that kind of music (that particular guys has my respect actually, because admitting one's own failure to understand something is a much more sympathetic reaction rather than criticizing that something itself).

After Mayhem, we decided that we'd seen what we wanted to see, and so that was the end of Copenhell 2011 for me. I did not see Gwar and Morbid Angel, but I never liked Gwar anyway, and, although my review of Morbid Angel's latest release is perhaps among the most positive reviews so far, I also state that I am not a fan of the band, so I did not feel compelled to stay and see them live - I am sure they both put on a great show and pleased a lot of their fans.

Edited by Time Signature - 19 Jun 2011 at 6:00am
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