KILLL (NO), last concert @ Club Jaeger, Ultima Festival, Oslo, Norway.
The is a certain symmetry to the fact KILLL (NO) decided to play their farewell concert at the Oslo Contemporary Music Festival (ULTIMA) this year, as this was the festival where the band did their first live show way back in 2002. So, tonight’s concert closes an intriguing chapter of Norwegian metal that has over a ten year period explored the far ends the metal genre.
The labelling of this band is somewhat difficult, but attempts have been made: Avantgarde stroboscopic metal, contemporary digitalized extreme metal, epileptic binary grind, and so forth and so on.
I dunno what the best label would be, but it boils down to an insanely massive flow of strobe lights and metal-like riffs that are digitally twisted and rearranged into an impenetrable wall of sound impossible to ignore. The end result is a mesmerizing shock-and-awe live experience that threatens to overrun the perceptual channels of the spectators and peel back the finer layers of your brain.
KILLL is – sorry ‘was’ – comprised by Espen Hangaard (Altaar, Diskord, NoPlaceToHide), Erlend Mokkelbost (Montee, JR Ewing), Martin Horntvedt (Jaga Jazzist, National Bank), and Are Mokkelbost (Single Unit). Combined, this is set of musicians covers a wide range of genres, and represents at least 250 years of musical experience together. They were a live band exclusively, and their shows were always taken to extremes with the perceptual haze created by strobe lights and perceptually alluring backdrops.
I guess this visual craziness, combined with the lethal precision of the rapid-fire riffs, is the closest you’ll get to having a neurocognitive breakdown without actually inflicting actual structural damage.
The extremity and energy of KILLL is, unlike the traditional TNBM metal formats, not founded in ideological or religious discourses, in the sense that the songs burst with anger not pointed at any church or political tradition or anything like that. It appears that the blasting fury comes from somewhere else, making the inverted crosses and hailz&horns gestures seem somewhat odd. But that’s ok, always time and occasions to mock those things later on.
The reputation of the band must be intact and overly positive, because the concert was sold out this evening. At the door, some poor bastards without a ticket tried to convince the doorman that to let them in, what possible damage could a few extra people do?
Ha ha, suckers, it’s sold out. And it’s the last concert.
The band enters the stage calmly somewhere around 22:00, and the crowd responds with a controlled cheer. And it all starts with a repeating pulse of thrusting guitar riffs that is gradually bled into an anaemic echo. Then, the gates of Hell open with the marching hordes of precise, cold stabs of guitars and drums, locking into a 5 minute repetitive deathtrance, as if your brain was replaced with an old broken CD that got hung up on and kept chugging away at the same down-stroke riff forever. The first chills of epileptic paranoia begin creeping up my spinal cord, and my teeth clench. From the depth of this monotonous state of riffing, a synthetic tone builds up, totally devoid of emotion, and it keeps building up until everything comes to a sudden stop.
Then, the next songs starts hammering out a marching beat that soon turns into the signature madness of this band. It is now obvious that KILLL actually kills. This is a monstrous live band, ripe with strange ideas about metal, and keen to go far to realize those ideas.
KILLL is relentless, by all means one of the most uncompromising extreme music bands I know of. Their live performance accentuates the basic elements of metal music (the chugging riffs, haunting melodic songs structures), but it is the digital deconstruction of the metal genre that is mind-blowing.
Seen from an art history perspective, KILLL can be understood as a resurrection of the Russian Suprematism avant-garde movement in the 1920s, where art was redefined by plucking it a part in order to assemble it all again into stranger and new objects. There’s this quote from Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935): “The appearances of natural objects are in themselves meaningless; the essential thing is feeling – in itself and completely independent of the context in which it has been evoked.” I think this perspective really captures the feeling of KILLL, in the sense that this band breaks the spell of metal being something apriori meaningful and naturally given. By taking the various elements and style formats of metal and reprocessing them into a furious hellstorm of perceptual impressions, KILLL forces the spectators to rethink metal. And that’s a good thing.
The artsy jerk-off references set aside: KILLL is – excuse me – was a major force both visually and musically. The goodbye show at Club Jeager did not indicate that any of the intricate fury and madness had faded over the 10 years they existed.
For all you poor bastards not attending this show, you could try to buy the DVD/CD that came out last year. That will give you just a taste of the havoc that KILLL represented.
And I just love to say this: “You should have seen them live, you know, that was way better. But the DVD is alright, I guess”
So, the only thing left to say is hailz & thanks to the band for delivering crazy shit over 10 years – and to end it all with a kick-ass show. I’m looking forward to the next project these guys come up with.
Now, what will they do with the 50 meters of backdrop printed with the classic KILLL pattern?