GONZO CATATONIC DOOMHEAD
A heretic capture of Copenhagen's HEAVY DAYS IN DOOMTOWN
Flow, my tears, Sylvia said. Sylvia had just come out of CONAN's performance and she was shaking and shedding tears of joy. That's how intense the performance had been. That sound engineer sure as hell knew what he was doing, too. I'd never seen somebody cry because of a heavy metal show. This event changed quite a few of my perceptions and misconceptions on what a heavy metal is, the potential it has, and the effects it can have on your mind.
Doom metal is a very special branch off the great heavy metal tree. The music is slow, solitary, and repressed. When other metal subgenres just blast away at thousands of beats per minute, doom metal sits there in its cage choking under its own unmanageable gravity. "It's too much man, too much too much" as that rotten attorney of Hunter S. Thomspon's would have put it.
Festivals, however, do not quite cut it for me anymore. I try to do one festival a year, and it's mostly to catch up with my heavy metal people. I don't get to see them all that often these days. A metalfest is a wonderful excuse to do just that. But what does cut it these days? That is tough to answer. There are not that many things to cling on to as I see it. Music provides an easy anwser to the quest for identity. It is hard, and painful, to be nothing but your naked self. Music, arts, football teams (just sayin), dress styles, drinks, hobbies, ideologies, they all ingeniously cover one's soul like a silk blanket. Once one stops using all these identity supplements semi-religiously - like I have done with Heavy metal and hardcore punk for about 15 years - one finds oneself staring at the void.
Only the void is not staring back.
So what is left, then, of the self, if you strip it off all these culture supplements? What do people fall in love with, if not the collection of all that, even if the sum is - potentially - bigger than its parts? I do not know the answer to that but I would be very curious to find out.
They say timing is everything, and I usually agree with this statement. I generally dislike sweeping generalizations, and the presence of the word "everything" is a clear indication that this is one very good example. So let's just say that timing is extremely important and sometimes it can be almost "everything". At the doomfest, timing was neither on GRAVES AT SEA's, nor SHADOW OF THE TORTURER's side. Both band had balls the size of the twin towers before Osama's buddies decided to refurbish them. But played after MOURNFUL CONGREGATION. It was too much to take in. My friends and I, we had no space left; our soul was used up thoroughly, spent over the course of the last two days, feasting in an endless frenzy of beer, weed, talks with randoms, photos with the brown hat, marveling - as DEPHOSPHORUS would have put it - at the great starless canvas above us. So when GRAVES and SOTT took the stage all we could do is admit that we couldn't handle it and hope that the bands would understand. We were certain that they would.
Now, I am not the most politically sensitive person on the planet but I do get sensitive when it comes to immigration. It's not just that I have lived many years as an immigrant myself; it is a deeper desire to link and protect with the most unfortunate of my fellow citizens. Those who are last in the queue and have nothing to cling on. Immigration is one of the great equalizing forces in this god forsaken planet, so that the massive accumulations of power can eventually be lessened out.
I live in the nice part of town in an old house with a garden. But, one god forsaken day, I decided that I want to move flats. I have always had a bizarre desire to pick a derelict area to live in. I always felt a bit of a hypocrite with my rhetoric on solidarity to the immigrants and the unfortunate, while living in a nice neighborhood myself and thought that if I ever want to take myself seriously I should take personal responsibility and align myself with the most neglected of my fellow citizens. I went online, spotted a flat in the worst neighborhood of the inner city, went to inspect it and booked it already the next day. It's kind of hard to describe just how bad this neighborhood is. It's really ran-down, with plenty of extreme right wing nutjobs plus huge numbers of illegal immigrants, junkies (but note here that we are talking junkies at the point of no return, with open wounds, pardon me for being graphic), Christian fanatics, bitter old farts, homeless vagabonds, and various other assorted (low)-lifeforms.
I did all this alone without asking anybody else's opinion on the project, and was quite excited about the move. However, when I started mentioning this decision to friends and family, everybody more than raised an eyebrow and started worrying. About safety, and how they hell they could ever come visit. I started receiving large quantities of negative energy regarding this from everybody, more than I could possible manage. And I had to give up on this project. There will always, be a part of me that is disappointed at me for not being enough of an idealist (martyr?).
While we are at the immigration topic, FUCK YOU band member performing Saturday - you know who you are, I won't say any names - for blaming your misfortunes on the Polish and Romanian immigrants, who are happy to do 16-hour shifts when you only want to do 8.
As Oscar Wilde put it "To appreciate good wine, one does not have to down the whole barrel". This is precisely what Shawn and I did when BELL WITCH took the stage . We sampled BELL WITCH for about 20'. The quality of the material was outstanding. We needed no more. Bought the t-shirt. The t-shirt kicked ass, too. This all happened at the small stage over at Copenhagen's legendary youthouse. To be precise, that particular building is not legendary as it was offered to the youths by the government. The previous one, the one at Jegtvej however, is indeed a legendary squat; it being claimed by a religious organization in 2007 triggered what reportedly were the worst riots Copenhagen has seen in decades.
Just how many metal t-shirts can one own and be eventually happy with their collection? I keep losing my fucking t-shirts. It's not that I give them away to friends or leave them deliberatly in pockets of airplane seats, like I did with PKD's outstanding "Flow, my tears, the policeman said" on my way to Copenhagen. My metal tees simply tend to disappear. I had a beautiful FUCK ON THE BEACH t-shirt - bought in Japan - in 2005 but I have no idea where it's gone. I had more. Had a white GALLHAMMER t-shirt, perhaps the only white metal tee I have ever owned. Well that is not counting my first custom made CORROSION OF CONFORMITY and WHITE ZOMBIE tees when I was 17. I had LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR, NACHTMYSTIUM and much more. Wish they are happy wherever they are.
Then there was the other thing. One hot summer day, I de-sleeved all my metal t-shirts. Took off the damn sleeves. Every single one of them. TOTAL FUCKING DESTRUCTION, YACOPSAE, MAGRUDERGRIND, the lot. So when autumn came, I had no metal t-shirts left. It's a truly frustrating feeling, having no metal t-shirts to put on, when you feel you are at the crossroads of misanthropy: A plain black t-shirt will not suffice, but the right metal tee will work wonders.
As luck would have it, MOURNFUL CONGREGATION's performance coincided with the Orthodox Easter's culmination moment, which is celebrated precisely at midnight on Good Saturday. The Australians took the stage, sombre, faithful to their own handle, and delivered all of us punters from the evils of this world. The guitars wept for what felt like hours; it was captivating, and liberating at the same time. Theirs was one of the best gigs I have seen in my life. Some were breathtaking, like GRIEF's performance in Loppen, Copenhagen in 2010, if memory serves.
Thank you, from the heart, Copenhagen and HDDT crew, for having us; thank you for putting this feast together for us. It was our honor to be there. You inspired us, and reminded us of the good things in life. Hugs, laughs with friends, a few beers too many. A few moments in that corner of the world, on that mellow Saturday night, somewhere between people who had passed out, empty beer cans, and grim-looking vinyl records, were enough to give us immense chills.
We bit our lips and promised to throw ourselves, afresh, out there in the minefields of the world that we love to hate.