Global Doom: Volume IV–Copenhagen Part I

Hello, and welcome back to Global Doom: an ongoing series with the mission of unearthing doom metal from all over the world. 

It has been quite a while since I last wrote any sort of continuation to this series, and for that, I must apologize. In fact, my posting habits have slowed to a crawl over the last few weeks. I dislike that pattern, but I suppose as much as I’d rather be doing these blogs, real life responsibilities have to take priority. Don’t worry, though. I have not forgotten the DOOM.

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Creds to my mate Djura

Fortunately, this series was designed to be collaborative, and during my absence two of my good friends who also happen to be gifted bloggers both contributed with instalments of their own:

#GlobalDoom: Ireland–by Maria

#GlobalDoom: North Carolina–by Kurios

You can, of course, contribute to this series as well simply by adding the hashtag #GlobalDoom to your blog (make sure it’s posted in Black Metal Amino or Metal Amino so that I’m able to find it). It’s open to anyone who likes to write and wants to help raise awareness of a genre that gets overlooked far too much! The last post I wrote in this series was about Karelia, and you can check that post out right here. That being said, I think I’ll be changing up the way I do these posts. I used to aim to give more of a quick overview about each band in order to include as many as possible, but now, I think I’d rather spend more time on each band while including less bands in each post. I don’t want to have to skim over any deserving bands from any area. To avoid leaving perfectly good bands out, however, these posts may start to come in multiple parts per location.danish

Right, then. Moving on from the necessary pleasantries, this post will be the first of two parts in a volume covering one of my favourite places in the world.

Copenhagen

Copenhagen is the capital city of the glorious country Denmark; a country which is very important to me on a personal level due to my Scandinavian heritage. Playing host to Tivoli Gardens (the second oldest amusement park in the world that is still in operation), Copenhell and the Little Mermaid among many, many equally amazing sights, and situated on the east coast of Sjælland (Zealand), the city’s history can be traced back to the 10th century–that’s really fucking old compared to the city I call home nowadays. Its name, Copenhagen, is actually an anglicization of its actual Danish name: København, which is derived from an older Danish word meaning “Merchant’s Harbour”. Though Copenhagen may be centuries old, it boasts a thriving doom scene and acts as a breeding ground for many innovations, especially in the arena of stoner doom, where some truly interesting things are beginning to happen.

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Let us begin with the obvious.

Saturnus

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Melodic doom/death legends Saturnus are a by far the most well-known band on this list, and for good reason. Their music is expressive, crushing, even emotionally troubling at times, and just all around fantastic. Formed in 1991 originally under the name Assesino, Saturnus create sweeping storylines with their music as a backdrop to dark, disturbing chains of lyrical events. Listening to their music is like being washed down a river. At times, it’s a still and eerie drift through glassy waters… Until it isn’t. Gradually, the temperament changes, and suddenly, the glazy waters begin to ripple and swirl, and your calm ride turns into violent crashing back and forth, between sharp rocks and raindrops that drill into you like stings from tiny insects, and you’re being washed away and dragged under the water by the force of an inhospitable and tumultuous raging current. All of a sudden, it’s as if you’ve woken up from a dream, and you come to a soggy realization that the album has ended–and perhaps you didn’t even notice, being deep in thought under the influence of the music. That is the best possible thing to which I can liken the experience of listening to a Saturnus album uninterrupted.

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Though 1996’s Paradise Belongs to You is often heralded as their best work, I personally find a great enjoyment in all their work, and to be honest, I was left feeling deeply disturbed by 2006’s Veronika Decides to Die. It is not often that a piece of music possesses the ability to do that kind of thing to me, and so I don’t listen to it often. It’s an amazing, mesmerizing, terrible thing that I do not seek to experience on the daily. Saturnus have a masterful command of atmosphere, and if you’re the type to listen to music in single songs instead of full albums at a time, I suggest you change that if you want to truly grasp what Saturnus are bringing to the table.

 

Bethmoora

0006661045_10“From the darkest depths of Copenhagen,” quotes their Bandcamp page, “comes the sludgy doom monster that is Bethmoora.” And sludgy doom monster they are indeed. It is true that Bethmoora have released very few things in their relatively short career thus far. Both of said things, Demo 2016 and an October split with the Belgian group Dorre, were released in 2016. It is not generally known when or how the band formed, but judging by their history of releases, they’ve not been around for very long. Even so, they have somehow managed to overcome their very abbreviated discography in order to become one of the very best examples of Danish sludge. Demo 2016, two songs and 26 minutes in length, is a vicious display of darkness and blooming riffs, accented by apocalyptic tones and general sludgy fury.

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Can we appreciate the fact that Bethmoora’s artwork is just gorgeous?

A quick listen through this demo will either have you looking for things to destroy, or will leave you wondering what the hell you’ve just spent the past 30 minutes of your life listening to. After coming back to it several times, I’ve generally concluded that Demo 2016 is one of my favourite sludge releases of the year. Were it extended into a full-length album, it may well have been my sludge AOTY (a topic to be further explored in a later post). No matter what, I think Bethmoora have established through this demo that they’re not just fucking around. No–they’re a force to be reckoned with, and once they’ve been around for a while longer and have more releases to back them up, we’ll definitely have a recipe for something disastrous or incredibly well-delivered (or both).

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I will never get sick of staring at this.

Bethmoora’s recent split with Dorre is another worthy discussion that I intend to have. Right now, dammit. Let’s start with the artwork, because it PERFECTLY represents what this split sounds like. Can you see it? Dorre is a far more colourful and psychedelic listen than Bethmoora, and it’s really cool how this has been represented in the artwork, with Bethmoora’s distinct grim imagery blooming into the eventual vibrancy that represents Dorre. Yet again another amazing work of art from an artist whose name I intend to eventually discover. This is beautiful. The music it represents is also very well done, and sonically creates the exact likeness of its physical representative image. Dorre’s soft melodies and relaxed, spacey atmosphere flow like silken waterfalls over rough, gritty riffs, and float into Bethmoora’s side; a butterfly being trapped in a net. Once Bethmoora gets ahold of the reigns and takes over, it becomes a whole different story, and that vicious, apocalyptic, smelted darkness sets in like a dull wound in your side that slowly rips open. Awesome.

 

Drukner

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Time to talk about the thing Copenhagen seems to do best: stoner doom. Drukner are one of several stoner doom bands that I plan on including in this list, and I’ve included them first for a good reason. Like Bethmoora, these guys have a very limited discography so far, and they’ve only just formed, back in 2015. Their only release at the moment is a self titled full-length, which came out back in September. Their sound is one of slow movement and laid-back but still very present energy. With Drukner, there is no rush to get anywhere. It’s chill music on their terms, and as a result, their riffs really blossom into something special along the way. As I said, their sound is one of movement. Each riff melts seamlessly into the next, creating an impressive gradient of sound. But Drukner are not exactly just straight up stoner doom. Elements of horror liken them more to a bad acid trip than to your usual psychedelic frolic through the strawberry river, and that makes them stand out in a really interesting way.

drukner_drukner_2016 Throughout the 40 or so minutes of this album, there are notably few points where you can notice any sort of defined transition into another component. It’s all, as I said, quite seamless. The joints are there, but not audible unless you’re really paying attention to detail. The best way I could describe this would be a sonic book-matching of sorts. It’s like a long trek through fields of oddly coloured plant life and rivers of fuzz, dotted with the occasional sample from The Twilight Zone, which is always welcome in my books. Dirty riff through dirty riff, this album is a solid trek through strange new places guided by the spacey voice of Palle Skovhede soaring overhead like some sort of half-eagle half-teletubby creature that you can’t really identify. Rounding off with the 13 minute epic Get High On Your Own Supply, this album is a great listen for any fan of stoner music of any kind, and I imagine that Drukner will go on to achieve great things as their career progresses. Most of this album is thematically darker than your average stoner doom album, but tracks such as I Am The Saviour, And So… lighten the mood enough to make this a listen with some headroom for flexibility. I quite highly recommend this.

 

ARAKK

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ARAKK are probably the least known band in this post. A four piece band, their sound consists of a style of funeral doom with post-metal trimming, similar to that of Japan’s Funeral Moth although not quite as spacious and lush. Dense reverb pushes the vocals and instrumentation away from the listener and into a secluded sonic oasis of sorts; a distant space without any notion of probability. ARAKK are currently still an active band. Formed in 2012, they have only ever released a single demo, which was recorded in the fall of 2013 but released in June of 2014. This demo is entitled Self & Distance and consists of a single, almost 25 minute long track, which is not an uncommon practice for funeral doom; a genre that sits somewhere beyond that face of the clock, floating freely in the spaces between seconds. The world has heard nothing of ARAKK since that demo.

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Self & Distance will set you adrift into an eternal celestial current. Listening to this, somehow, you will slip in between the distant chiming of clock bells and into a timeless rift. It’s bathed in a dreary sort of depression, subtly, and somehow without being overtly sad. It’s more in the fashion of an exhausted, end of the rope kind of desolation; someone who has been chronically hollow for so long that the melancholia has set into their bones and rotted their soul into despondence. It is an apathetic depression. It begins in a slow and brooding manner. Disinterest in the everyday, and detachment from life, blot out the sun in the first segment of the demo. The fact that the beginning section is not the most overtly interesting listen somehow makes sense in this context, and in some odd way actually works in favour of the music, as the song transforms into something truly worthwhile nearing the middle. This is a kind of sound that ends up being absorbed by your consciousness and not just your ears. Echoing off the walls of a damp cavern, the instrumentation is absentminded, and as the song progresses, it undergoes metamorphosis into something increasingly ambient. Faint synth sounds inlaid between far-flung guitars and heavy-handed drums carve out intangible space for ARAKK’s post-metal influence, and by the time the second segment begins, you’ll be listening to a dream instead of a demo.

 

Alucarda

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Time for a change of pace. Alucarda will be the final band I include in this post, because as of this precise moment I’m at 2094 words, and I’ve put a few hours into this. I don’t want to burn out on it and end up giving a band a shittier description than their music merits. It’s starting to look like this Copenhagen instalment will take up more than two posts at this rate though, so don’t worry. This is far from everything Copenhagen has to offer.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming. Alucarda have been around since 2011 and are admittedly a lot closer to being punk than doom metal (based on their more recent material at least), but they make some pretty great music, and I think doom fans are bound to appreciate them. The band takes a no-nonsense, down to business approach to their music. Two demos, a split with Copenhagen’s Demon Head and the 2015 full-length release Raw Howls make up their discography, released over the course of the five years they’ve been together as a band so far (they are active).

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Raw Howls is a 30 minute exploration of occult/horror based themes in a doom nerd-friendly setting. I’d be the first to admit that I have a very limited understanding of punk and its corresponding branches, so unfortunately I’m a bit handicapped in my ability to provide further detail to the extent that certain people reading this could (you all know who you are). Kicking off with the curiously short Northville Cemetary, a track that would not be out of place on a stoner doom album, the album promptly proceeds to soak absolutely everything in fuzz and immediately outlines their sound. One of Alucarda’s strongest points are their really suitable riffs. The guitar work on this album is also really fitting to the style, featuring periodic high-energy guitar solos in just the right spots, and rhythm playing that sits nicely underneath the vocals.

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D.F.F.L was Alucarda’s first release: a demo from 2013. It’s generally held to be better than their subsequent effort, Raw Howls, and it is certainly a lot more raw sounding and high-energy. D.F.F.L draws heavily from three prominent themes: bikers, the occult and drugs, which make for a very interesting mix of topics, and which naturally inspire their share of no-nonsense good music. This is my favourite of their releases, just because it sounds a lot more powerful and organic than their later material. It is also a lot more noticeably doom inspired (can you smell the Sabbath?), which is why I recommend it over their other more recent releases.

• • •

Unfortunately this post has now come to an end. This was definitely a lot longer than any Global Doom post I’ve done so far, and I really do like this new format, so I think I’ll be continuing with it since it seems to allow a lot more space for exploration of the music (rather than just the regurgitation of facts with minimal detail and creative licence). Keep an eye out for Copenhagen part 2! Thanks for reading.

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