Copenhell kicks off like hell

Under the brooding skies of Copenhagen, the annual Copenhell festival unleashed a weekend of sonic mayhem that will resonate in the hearts of metalheads for years to come. From June 19th to 22nd, the Danish capital transformed into a haven for heavy music lovers, offering a diverse lineup that ranged from legendary acts to rising stars. Amidst the roaring crowds and electrifying performances, Copenhell 2024 proved once again why it stands as a pinnacle of the metal festival scene, delivering unrelenting energy, unforgettable moments, and a true celebration of all things heavy.

Photo’s (c) Morten Holmsgaard Kristensen

PERSECUTOR: Thrash like your dad likes it!

Danish thrash-metal band Persecutor has delivered old-school riffs since they formed in 2016, and today is no exception. They’ve been given the arduous task of being one of the opening acts of Copenhell 2024, and as we all know, it’s normally no easy task to gather a crowd being the first ones to (anti)christen the stage. Despite this, people were there, and ready to rock. Persecutor delivered a hard-hitting performance, and it’s very clear that we’re dealing with a bunch of experienced headbangers, who’ve been on the stage more than a few times throughout the years. Donning an extremely tight-fitting silver spandex which is completely open in the front exposing his chest, and an almost Freddy Mercury-esque moustache and hairdo, lead singer Christian Andrés Almanza riles the crowd up from the very start, and with another member sporting a worn out ‘Britney’ t-shirt, the band isn’t hung up on pretention.

The crowd is big enough that it fills the area in front of the stage, and it doesn’t take more than a few songs before the first moshpit breaks out, and later on, possibly the first Wall of Death of the festival. It’s almost too bad that they’re confined to the second smallest stage, Pandemonium. And while they have a few albums under the belt, the tracks from their newest album, Vendetta, are filled with the same delightfully hate-filled energy we know from the old Gods of thrash, Slayer, Kreator and the like, although a touch more melodic, which in this case is a great addition. All in all, a VERY strong opener for the festival, and definitely a band you should look out for if you ever have the chance.

JUNGLE ROT: Old school and proud of it.

Jungle Rot is quintessential death metal, from back when the genre was still young. Formed in 1992, the Wisconsin band have 11 studio albums in their catalogue, plus a whole slew of demos and singles, and have toured with such names as Vital Remains and The Black Dahlia Murder. Unfortunately, it does seem like the performance is pretty much routine by now. There’s minimal interaction with the crowd, which is huge at first, to the point that people have to give up on finding a spot as the entire area in front of the smallest stage, Gehenna, is completely filled, but also thinned out significantly after 20 minutes or so. There isn’t much in the way of a stage show either, just a simple backdrop.

The music itself is decidedly old-school death, which the lead singer also chants throughout the entire show. And I’ll give them this, they do deliver some of the kind of heavy drops and riffs you expect from death metal from that era. Musically they’re pros, so it’s too bad that neither the stage show or the crowdwork really matches up to that.

PLAGUEMACE: Rising stars on the Danish and european death metal scene.

While being a somewhat new band, formed in 2019, if you’re a dedicated concertgoer in Denmark, chances are you’ve seen Plaguemace at least once, as they’ve been doing quite a few live shows in these past 5 years, really chipping away at those 10.000 hours as a band. Having released their debut album, Reptilian Warlords, just last year, and having toured the UK with Nervosa, their repertoire isn’t huge, but they still pack a lot of punch into every track.

The genre is perhaps best described as something like thrash-ish deathrock, leaning heavy on the death metal aspect. They’ve pretty much mastered both the tempo-filled and the slow and heavy riffs. The lead singer, Andreas Truelsen, delivers some brutal breakdowns and manages to keep the same raw growl throughout the show.

Having played the same stage as Jungle Rot, Gehenna, they’ve done more with the stage show, having both fire effects and confetti. The crowd interaction is also pretty well done, not everybody can antagonize the crowd and still keep them, especially at a festival, where there are other options. But Andreas gives the crowd some VERY firm instructions for people to do a wall of death, without losing anyone. And the band isn’t without a sense of humour either, telling the people in the back that they’re somehow less active than the guy in a wheelchair upfront. After singing a birthday song, immediately follows it with saying ‘now this next song is about killing’. Plaguemace is definitely worth going to see if you ever have the chance, and it is probably a band we will hear a lot more from in the Danish metal scene in the future.

AVENGED SEVENFOLD: Wednesdays headliner doesn’t disappoint … much

Avenged Sevenfold is often quite a topic of discussion among metal fans. Some love to hate them, some hate to love them. But fact is, they can still draw a crowd, and know how to handle themselves on stage. Having 8 studio albums under their belt, their sound evolved from almost metalcore to a more classic heavy sound with elements of progressive metal.

They’re the headliner for the opening day, and the production value shows it. The giant screens show them what is possible AI filters, making it seem like they’re different people and genders changing their appearances rapidly. At one point there are fire effects and my personal favourite, making them look like death knights. And let’s just be honest, every love song should have flaming skeletons playing saxophone.

The only bad thing, that unfortunately has to be mentioned since it’s a big one, is the sound. Now, I can’t tell if the sound was just suffering because of the equipment, or if Avenged Sevenfold is just one of those bands that doesn’t hold up quite as well live, as on their studio albums, but something seemed amiss. And making the arduous journey from the hill to the front, I could confirm that the sound didn’t get better. But still, the place was packed, and people stayed to the end. They are pros, there’s no doubt about that, and they did their typical crowdpleasers spread throughout the show, starting pretty early on with ‘Hail to the King’.

All in all, I’m glad that I finally got to see them, and would recommend anybody who has the chance, to go check them out and decide for themselves if you’re on the hate or love wagon.

STEEL PANTHER: Oh Steel Panther, may you never grow up!

Formed in 2000, under the name Metal Shop, then Metal Skool, before emerging as the Steel Panthers we know today in 2008, the genre is best described as sort of a parody of glam metal. They’re known for being outrageously raunchy, and funny and for having women flash them during the show.

And boy do they deliver! The hair, the headbands, the way-too-tight outfits, they’re all the stereotypes of a glam metal band in one grand performance. The music is up-tempo, funny and dirty, the subject matter of course mostly consists of different sexual escapades. The show is as much comedy as it’s music, and the huge crowd is with them all the way. You get the feeling that this is people that truly love what they do and that it never gets old for them. They’re also great at recognizing every member of the band, so that no one guy steals all the attention.

They’re not too big to have a few fans come on stage either, the first of which was to the song ‘Asian hooker’. And speaking of fans, of course, there are a few adventurous ladies in the crowd, showing off the goods. As is tradition.

Not many bands have this level of crowd control and can get away with as much as these guys, they’re simply that funny. They end the show on a high note, with what is perhaps their flagship song ‘Gloryhole’. And let’s just say that everyone left satisfied.

Photo’s (c) Morten Holmsgaard Kristensen

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