Something new, something new-ish, something old, but still vibrant. That pretty much sums up this evening at Kedelhuset in Silkeborg, Denmark.
I live just outside Silkeborg, a provincial town with a population of approximately 43.000. It’s known for its beautiful surroundings and outdoors facilities, its Riverboat jazz festival, a country festival, a regatta with fireworks every three years, an annual rock and pop festival and, well, not so much its metal scene. The death metal band Dawn Of Demise are the kings of metal here, and that’s pretty much it. Except…off late, one other band from Silkeborg has been noticed for its achievements in the land of Metal.
XENOBLIGHT fought bravely for Denmark’s honour at the Wacken Metal Battle last year and landed an impressive fourth place in the competition. To reach something like that, you gotta do something right! And the Silkeborg natives do things exactly right. They are touring their arses off, and playing gigs with no end, which is exactly how you work your way into a scene and people’s conscience. Right now, this very evening, the five young musicians are finishing up a tour of Denmark with veteran death/thrashers HateSphere and Livløs, and there are more gigs in store for 2019, among others the mighty Roskilde Festival.
So, what is it that makes Xenoblight so interesting? First of all, the young band are skilled musicians. When you look at them on stage, you can picture how they’ve spent hours and hours practicing riffs, and how those riffs got more and more advanced.
Secondly, they have Marika Hyldmar. Marika is a tiny young woman and the kindest person, but on a stage, the beast takes over and she screams, grunts and growls like a demon. She’s a natural focal point for the band’s live performance, especially because the rest of the band are holding back considerably and seem a wee bit shy.
Eventhough Xenoblight are playing home tonight, the reactions from the audience are sparse. Not so much because the people there aren’t enjoying what’s happening, but more because there simply aren’t too many people here. As I said, Silkeborg isn’t a metal town.
No matter; Xenoblight deliver their blackened thrash metal with expected power and rawness. For me, they shine in particular when they sound more black than thrash with that Cradle of Filth flow of riffs accompanied by Marika’s desperate voice. The new song aired tonight, ‘Oblivion’, has exactly those traits and sounds extremely promising.
02. Obsidian Chromotism
07. Kill Yourself.
LIVLØS have no issues with shyness. None whatsoever. More experience plays a factor, but I suppose also a fundamental attitude. The connection with the audience is overall clearly better than Xenoblight’s because it isn’t limited to the singer. Both guitarists and the bassist whip up a storm, constantly smiling and grimacing at the audience. Note that the entire band have decided to wear HateSphere t-shirts tonight. Fan boys or what? Add to that that singer Niklas Lykke in some ways, as my companion this evening notes, reminds of original HateSphere singer Jacob Bredahl who was extremely energetic and always would sport a broad smile and that magic in-your-face attitude. No wonder that the first pit of the evening (however small) takes its form already two or three songs into the set.
It’s not just about attitude, of course. Livløs (it means ‘lifeless’ in Danish) know their death metal, and what they do is pretty effective. Inspired by both Scandinavian and US death metal with the occasional grinding breakdown, these young fellows have found a baseline recipe that’ll entertain the masses for years to come if they are able to keep the fire going. By the look of it tonight, there’s no stopping them. Excellent stuff, highly entertaining as well as appropriately brutal. Nice one.
01. Rot & Ruin
03. The Sleepless
04. Before the Flood
06. Into Beyond
07. Blood & Despair
Speaking of no stopping: HATESPHERE are closing in on their 20th anniversary, and there’s no sign of this proud troupe getting worn down any time soon. Yes, I know, Peter ‘Pepe’ Lyse Hansen is the only remaining original member, but all in all, HateSphere seems stronger than ever as a band.
Again, attitude is a huge part of the impression a band makes, and HateSphere have since conquered my metal heart with the no-bullshit attitude. There is indeed room for big smiles in death thrash and a focus on having a plain good old good time with brutal music. It’s easy to see where a younger band like Livløs have found inspiration. And, true enough, the fan boys from the support band are in and out of the pit during HateSphere’s show. One can’t help but smile and enjoy that metal shows can also be about total respect and fun among the bands. Happy days.
HateSphere have now reached a point in their career where there’s plenty of material in the back catalogue, and with a mightily strong new album out, Reduced to Flesh, the old songs have competition. Six new songs from the latest albums tell you something about the confidence the band have in the album, and rightfully so.
For those us who saw Jacob Bredahl fronting HateSphere back in the day, it’s hard not to still make comparisons, even if Esben ‘Esse’ Hansen have now recorded more albums with the band than Bredahl did. Esse is probably less aggressive vocally and he’s certainly not as much in-your-face, but he’s like your nice uncle huggy bear who happens to be fronting a brutal death thrash machine, and he does so in his own tongue-in-cheek fashion. A man who starts a Wall of Death by saying “Sausage”….I mean, how can you not love this guy!?
However, the core of the matter is the music, and the music is just right. There’s the groovy shit, the heavy shit and the fast shit. HateSphere’s got it all. I have this penchant for the mid-tempo songs that HateSphere do so well; ‘Resurrect with a Vengeance’ is killer (see video clip below), and ‘Drinking With the King of Dead’ is still one of my absolute favourites.
But there are other strong items on the menu tonight. ‘Ruled by Domination’ from the new album impressed greatly live. Also ‘Let Them Hate’ from Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes is a total friggin’ monster here in Silkeborg this evening.
As is the custom, the set ends with ‘Sickness Within’ and the no less customary Wall of Death. It’s been a killer gig, which, sadly, too few witnessed, and it’s a damned shame for those who stayed away. For those of us who were here, smiles are difficult to hold back. Another great evening in the company of HateSphere – and surely not the last.
02. Corpse of Mankind
03. The Coming of Chaos
04. Lethal Mistakes
05. Resurrect With a Vengeance
06. Can of Worms
07. Let Them Hate
08. Lines Crossed Lives Lost
09. Nothing Is Definite
10. Drinking With the King of the Dead
11. Feeding the Demons
13. The Beginning and the End
15. 500 Dead People
16. Bleed to Death
17. Ruled by Domination
18. Sickness Within
AND for your convenience, we’ve put together a Spotify playlist that reflects the setlist! Here you go: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2I4BfDOXKOHCXog3Uxvdss
Video recordings by Thomas.