Dark Mental Festival - 2012

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Archain is a protein located on chromosome 11, the chromosome which is the most disease-rich in the human genome.
Whether or not this little factoid has anything to do with the naming of first band on the Friday of Dark Mental Festival, I do not know however.

Apart from what was mentioned above, Archain is also a death metal (primarily) band from Copenhagen, which in 2004 rose from the ashes of Mort Brutale and released the demo Rigets Sandhed. Since then the line-up have been changed, still containing founder Andreas ‘Azathil’ Villumsen on guitar and vocals, and his right hand man on drums, Danni ‘Smertesorg’ Holk, and finally a bassist of unknown name and origin, as well as having lived through another demo, Constructive Violence, and a split up in 2007.
Now it was time for them to wake up a groggy audience at the Dark Mental Festival (well, groggy might over exaggerate it as the time was already 8 p.m., but it always seems to be the slot of the first band to have a hung-over audience, no matter when they start), but for some reason it seemed the band-members were the most groggy of all. Here they were in a dark room, all of them wearing sunglasses and without moving an inch even though the music was pounding away. Quite odd actually.
This lack of initiative from the bands side did of course not attract much energy from the audiences’ side either, and apart from a single enthusiastic headbanger in the front, people were mostly hanging back still, keeping their cool as it were…

Archain weren’t completely without love though; between songs there were shouts and applause of appreciation, and neither were they without qualities; Villumsen’s vocals both surprised and impressed me with their sheer power, and even though his face was as unchanging as that of the great Moai, Holk still stamped the pedal to his bass-drum with such fury that already in the second song of the set he began experiencing problems with keeping it in its place, and later on had to ask for a brick of stone from the outside area of the café which he would then put on the end of the pedal to prevent it from slipping away…
Villumsen, as the chief song-writer, also got to show that he had more than one trick up his sleeve, as the short set not only gave us the fast and furious pounding of traditional death metal, but also showed us a slower, heavier side, as well as some more melodic, almost clean parts which helped keep the monotony at bay.

The real problem with the show though, was that no one seemed to take it seriously, especially not the band I’m sad to say.
I don’t mean that they were cracking jokes or anything, as this might have had a positive albeit a bit odd effect on the show; no, they were just playing their songs straight up without seeming to invest anything of themselves in the experience. Some loose chit-chatting between the songs with parts of the audience only strengthened the feeling in me that this was much more just another night in the rehearsal room with friends than it was an actual live-show.
Of course you should come as you are and not fake it, but would it hurt to at least look like you were enjoying yourselves just a little? And honestly, this was death metal, a little bit of headbanging wouldn’t hurt.

All in all, I can say that if you are a fan of brutal 90ies death metal, then you could always give Archain a go on the old stereo, but the live performance needs a serious protein injection before it will work optimally.

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