Copenhell - 2018

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

So, Neurosis. It’s a band that’s been around for ages, 33 years if I count correctly.
It’s also a band I have for a long time figured I’d like, if I ever listened to them.
I didn’t though, not until time was leading up to Copenhell, where I would get the chance to see them headline the warm-up day of the festival on the Pandæmonium stage.
The thing is, I wasn’t quite as impressed with their music as I thought I’d be. I thought it was ok, nothing more. So, what did this mean for the coming show?

In the warmth of the festival, in the company of so many other guests, and in the good mood brought about by the situation, and only just enough beer, I was still looking forward to the show.
A show that opened with all members on stage, no funny business, only with their backs turned to the audience. A calm click, click, click, counted down the final seconds, and then all hell broke loose, as the members of the band turned around in synchronicity and began playing. I don’t know what they were playing, it was never introduced to us, but it didn’t matter - the way these guys were completely in the zone of their own music was intoxicating and inspiriting. The music came in waves, hitting us with hard, chaotic maelstroms of violence, only to recede in calm and clean order, and then turn round again.

It’s funny, I thought I had (more or less) cracked the mysterious nut of what makes a show great, and what doesn’t. And then comes Neurosis, and basically does more or less everything wrong on my checklist, and yet they make it so it feels so incredibly right!
Here’s a band that at no point during the show addresses the audience, they don’t introduce themselves or their music, and they never reach out to make a connection. They move about on stage, powerfully, but in an introverted kind of way. The music itself is strong and all-encompassing, but there are no real hooks, no places for obvious crowd participation, like a sing-along or the like.
By all rights, this is a show that should crash and burn.

But, damn me, if it didn’t hold water all the way through! Neurosis wasn’t about the easy points, they were creating a musical universe for us to explore and get lost in. They were filling the festival grounds with an intangible atmosphere rather than beer burps and out-of-tune hollering. A sort of magic. An honest to God, true to the core, metal moment.

If you haven’t caught on yet, then yeah, I was blown away. This was only the second band of a four day festival, and yet I figured I’d already seen and heard I needed to take with me from this year’s Copenhell. Could this truly be Concert of the Festival played already, so completely out of left field? Time would tell, but the rest of the bands and artists had just had the bar raised through the roof for what would be accepted.
This wasn’t what I’d expected when I listened to the music at home, this wasn’t even what I’d imagined it would be like before I heard the band the first time - this was so much more on every level.

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