Photos by HeartMatter Artworks
The actual Black Friday is two weeks away. Yet, the blackest Friday in Aarhus already took place two days – and three full-moon nights – ago. Some of the strongest representatives of the genre in Denmark were delivering their performances to the local black metal family and were thus welcomed with warmth and enthusiasm.
As the stage-props with Celtic-like symbols were being carried onto the stage before Orm’s performance, my black metal-curious friend quietly asked: “so this is the epic one?” Orm (which means snake, or worm in the Scandinavian and some of the Germanic languages) is a 4-member epic/melodic black metal outfit from Copenhagen. Established in 2015 by experienced musicians, Orm released their debut album earlier this year under Indisciplinarian label (which also released Solbrud’s latest record).
Orm are constructing their sonic and visual mythology around a metaphorical image of a giant snake which is “situated in a mythical cosmos of ancient times, where magic, gods and supernatural creatures inhabited the world as naturally as humans, animals, water and forests”. The imagery Orm are building their legacy on is a figurative one, yet it clearly refers to a materialized presence of a supernatural being. This sort of clash of material and ethereal are to be observed in their sound as well: essentially, Orm are building upon simple melodies with technical guitar work and intense percussive patterns.
Double power of chant-like growling vocals added to the weight to Orm’s rather straightforward, dramatic approach to black metal. And so did doomy breakdowns induced with atmospherics, elevating folk-like melodies towards anthemic epicness, yet to a tasteful degree. Judging from their performance in Radar, Orm’s areas of future improvement might include making sure the guitars riffs and percussion more aligned; also, the presumably hypnotic intention behind recurring passages translated as slightly repetitive. Nevertheless, the majority of the crowd deemed convinced by what Orm had to offer on stage, and so was I.
Speaking of persuasive imagery translated into music, it seems appropriate to transition to the performance of Aarhusians Gespenst, who happened to open Friday’s show. Gespenst means phantom in Danish, which is rather symbolic since – sadly – I didn’t get to witness their whole performance. And yet I took more notes than during the rest of the evening while Gespenst were on stage in a powerful five-member outfit (originally Gespenst are a duo of artists Genfærd and Galskab, also known as M. Woe and Q. Woe from Woebegone Obscured). I wrote down about meticulous and passionate drumming by Mads Mortensen (who is also a drummer in Woebegone Obscured), technical precision, outstanding manipulation in vocals, dynamic transitioning in guitar riffs between devious Deathspell Omega-like soundscapes and outbursts of full exultation while maintaining an overall slightly disharmonious and interesting sound.
Gespenst are not necessarily your casual attention-grabbers who would employ obviousness of simple melodies to their favour. Instead, they are capable of developing more complex, yet still engaging constructions that are both clever and intriguing as well as emotionally impactful. There is something compelling and indeed phantomy about this band. Therefore, I’m definitely not done with these guys – now more than ever Gespenst are on my radar.
The closing act Solbrud delivered an enchantingly beautiful performance inside out. From the first second of their show, Copenhagen’s young quartet managed to grasp the attention and keep the mind engaged following noisy, sorrowful, vibrant and alluring flow of sound. In the moments when I managed to open my eyes to briefly scan through the crowd, I got a feeling that everyone around me were experiencing some profound effects of Solbrud’s compositions, having their eyes closed, likely carried somewhere far away by the sonic waves of darkness.
Essentially, the Fridays show at Radar beautifully demonstrated the range of contemporary Danish black metal scene. The sound quality as well as the light arrangements were well executed and provided an excellent opportunity to appreciate both powerful and subtle nuances of this intensely immersive style of music. (5/6)