Archive for January, 2022

In 2022, a year after the release of Kvitravn and as a prelude to the forthcoming and much anticipated live dates, Wardruna are presenting Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven.

An immersive audio arrangement that underscores the experiential paradigm shift and masterful musicianship of their superlative and boundary-pushing virtual live experience First Flight of the White Raven of March 26th 2021. This new release captures their special set list consisting of songs from Kvitravn and a selection of favourites from the discography, and will be released on a 2LP, as well as 2CD that also features the original studio album track listing. To mark the event’s exceptional impact, it will also be available as a limited Boxset Edition including 2LP (black), 2CD, DVD with livestream performance and bonus documentary material and three videos (only available in the boxed set), flag of the CD album cover, certificate of authenticity for the box and an exclusive autographed card signed by Einar Selvik.

As a taster, they’ve shared the performance of ‘Solringen’ from the release.

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Wardruna’s UK tour commences in March. About the tour Einar comments “It has been more than two years since we last gave a performance in front of an audience. Needless to say, this long and unwanted hibernation has made us very excited to finally be able to realistically plan our return to the stage.”

Full list of dates in the UK and Ireland below:

Thursday 17th March: Southbank Centre, London

Friday 18th March: Albert Hall, Manchester

Sunday 20th March: Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge

Monday 21st March: Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Tuesday 22nd March: The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

Wednesday 23rd March: Vicar Street, Merchants Quay, Ireland

​Plus more live dates can be found here: http://www.wardruna.com/tour-dates/

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26th January 2022

Christopheer Nosnibor

Elkyn first came to my attention – and, quite frankly, blew me away instantaneously – in his previous iteration as elk, in the spring of 2019, an appreciation that was cemented with the release of the ‘beech’ EP that summer. Since then, Leeds based multi-instrumentalist Joey Donnelly has become elkyn and gone on to craft not only more remarkable songs, but also something of a rarefied space artistically.

In many respects, there’s very little of Joey out in the public domain: press shots tend to be similar in style, and unassuming, and interviews, while interesting in themselves, and while he comes across well, reveal little about the man behind the music. In contrast, his songs are so intensely personal that there’s likely little need to elucidate further: the songs really do speak for him.

Those songs have already earned him airplay on BBC 6Music, BBC Introducing and Radio X, and deservedly so, and now, with a debut album, holy spirit social club, due for release in the spring, elkyn is sharing ‘talon’ as a taster.

Fuller in sound and more up-tempo than previous singles ‘something’ and ‘everything looks darker now’, it’s more akin to ‘found the back of the tv remote’, which found him flexing new muscles and venturing into Twilight Sad kitchen-sink melancholia.

It’s a(nother) magnificently-crafted tune, and it’s clear by now that Joey has a real knack for bittersweetness. The guitar is melodic and imbued with a wistfulness that’s hard to define. There’s a Curesque lilt to it, in the way that when the Cure do pop, it’s somehow sadder and more emotionally touching than then they do gloomy – or is that just me who experiences that sensation where a certain shade of happy just makes me want to cry inexplicably? But more than anything, when Donnelly’s voice enters the mix, I’m reminded of Dinosaur Jr. Joey’s a better singer than J Mascis, but his voice has that same plaintive quality that tugs away and evokes that emotional hinterland between gloom, resignation, and hope.

Donnelly deals in self-doubt, self-criticism and articulations of inadequacy, and this is why his songs are so affecting and relatable. But it’s the hope that shines through on ‘talon’ – thin rays of sun through the closed curtains of despair perhaps, but with a tune this breezy it’s hard to feel anything other than uplifted by the end.

Live dates:

18/03/22 Hyde Park Book Club Leeds

19/03/22 Fulford Arms York

20/03/22 The Castle Manchester

24/03/22 Scale Liverpool

25/03/22 JT Soar Nottingham

26/03/22 The Flapper Birmingham

27/03/22 Duffy’s Leicester

29/03/22 Strongrooms London

30/03/22 Folklore Rooms Brighton

01/04/22 Clifton Community Bookshop

02/04/22 Tiny Rebel Cardiff

Metropolis Records – 4 February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

For years, I’ve had the rage. There is, after all plenty in this world, this life, and no doubt beyond, to rage about and against. iVardensphere focus that rage through sound rather than verbally, through an album that articulates darkness and tension through the language of sound.

‘A Whimsical Requiem for the Fey’ is appropriately titled; being a breezy, neoclassical assimilation of light-as-air plucked strings and soft, accessible melody. As such, it does nothing to prepare the listener for the instant plunge into the darkest of depths brough with the growling churn of ‘The Maw’, which features Jesse Thom. But it’s on the title track that the album really hits its stride. Tribal drums dominate a gloomy soundscape, weighted with dense bass tones, but also the portent of soaring vocals. And while the jagged strings add to the tension, the drums simply build and build and batter your very being. This isn’t rage, it’s the unleashing of vengeance via the hammering of the soul.

The individual compositions are each dramatic and powerful in their own right, and the attention not only to the details of the arrangement, but the sequencing of the album stands out, and the ambition is clear without the explanation that this is ‘a sweeping, cinematic album, equally suited as the next evolutionary step of iVardensphere, and as the film score to a post-apocalyptic motion picture.’ It’s dark, stark, and atmospheric, and thunderous rhythms evoke ancient mysticism, and scenes on barren hilltops and sweeping moorlands; tribal rituals, burials, spiritual ceremonies of great import. And there are moments when those rhythms step up, pounding harder and more intensely, so as to be all-encompassing.

As the accompanying notes outline, ‘Traditional percussion from all corners of the world, Taiko, Surdo, djembe, timpani, and more are deftly intermixed with all manner of sourced percussion sounds. Hammers and anvils, slamming doors, even the sound of a dumpster being kicked are sampled and folded into the sonic melange.’ We’re in Neubauten / Test Dept territory here, but there’s a subtlety to so many of the compositions that go beyond these comparisons too: the graceful sweeps of ‘Indomitus’ stray from anything industrial towards progressive / post rock territories, and Seeming’s vocals are almost rock.

The electronic elements are remarkably restrained in the main, with only occasional incursions, such as the bending blasts of bass on ‘Varunastra’ (which features Brittany Bindrim’s vocals); elsewhere, ‘Draconian’ brings the drones, and a low, serrated throbbing. Then, it also brings glitchy danceable beats, which evolve into another crashing assault that batters away relentlessly.

Then there’s the straight-ahead thump ‘n’ grind of ‘Orcus’ and the mournful trudge of ‘The Age of Angels is Over’; these tracks conjure very different atmospheres, but in the way the album unfolds, they develop a sense of significance. If ‘Sisters of the Vipers Womb’, with Brien Hindman’s vocals, seems a little too cliché in its sinister stylings, it sits in the broader context of an expansive and immersive work that has a trajectory through ever-changing moods, and to powerful effect.

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Almost 30 years since their inception, the members of Engine Kid got together in 2021 to hang out and record new music. The result of which arrived by way of the Special Olympics EP flexi-disc/digital EP, released last December on Southern Lord.

The band has shared a music video for the EP’s second single, ‘Patty : Tania’ alongside a Q&A with Engine Kid’s Greg Anderson.

Watch the video here:

The tracks on the Special Olympics EP are re-workings of old material which were never recorded. The music represents the sonic direction that Engine Kid were heading before they disbanded. With this EP, the band commemorates the joy of playing music together for the first time in 26 years, and pick up where they left off. As Jade Devitt comments, "The musical commitment and connection that we forged in the 90’s has held like a magnet, finally pulling us together after 26 years! The newly recorded songs were dusted off blueprints from our very last practice tapes from the summer of ’95. Now enhanced with experience & age and new arrangements. The Kid flies again."

Earlier this year, the 90’s post-hardcore collective featuring Greg Anderson (Southern Lord label owner, also in Sunn O))), Goatsnake & Thorr’s Hammer) released a 6-LP box set of their career-spanning recordings on colour vinyl LP’s for the first time titled Everything Left Inside (find out more about that here) Engine Kid’s Brian Kraft adds, "Greg, Jade and I spent the summer and fall of 2020 gathering old photos, flyers, artwork and audio rehearsals /remixes/remasters for the Everything Left Inside box set. This remote reunion of the Kid made me realize how important Greg, Jade and Engine Kid was and is in my life. The reconnection led to recording some new material. It felt as if we were continuing right where we left off.”

Engine Kid’s first new material since 1995, the Special Olympics EP’s cover art is a symbolic metaphor about living one’s best life, and with extravagant swagger. The songs themselves continue the band’s “take on the world” attitude with restless, wild energy.

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E Kid

Photo Credit: Vaga Bond

Cleopatra Records

Christopher Nosnibor

Well, this is pretty fucking intense. Released to promote the duo’s new album, ‘Hear My Call’ is a beast. The verses are queasy, ominous with a hushed, almost strangulated tension. In contrast, the choruses are utterly pulverizing in their weight and density: there’s nothing hushed about them, and the tension is released in a chthonic snarl. The vocal transition is remarkable, as Lilith gears down an octave at least and flicks from anguished to a raging demon spewing toxic flames from the very bowels of hell. The crossover between electronica and black metal is almost schizophrenic, but Luna 13 render it in such a way that it’s perfect, that switch that happens at an imperceptible trigger lands with eye-popping precision, and the video, directed by Vicente Cordero (Stabbing Westward, Filter, 3TEETH) is a magnificent visual reflection of the music.

For a start, there’s splattered gore galore, as Lilith Bathory sloshes around in a bathtub that’s initially brimming with rose petals but before long it’s a streaming splatterfest where said tub is brimming with blood. She twitchily dials the telephone… and it transpires she’s not calling The Samaritans, but instead she connects on a hotline to Satan, and it cuts, and she’s a roaring, horned demon, and to the side, Dr Luna yanks a huge phallic lever that seemingly drives this whole whorl of chaos that’s blackened beyond black, the sound of scorching incineration.

A lot of so-called ‘occult’ and ‘Satanic’ shit is – well, shit – corny, half-baked, a bit laughable, at least to anyone not already invested, and you wonder how people take so many of these bands seriously. Not so Luna 13: this shit is truly terrifying. There’s no denying that some off the elements are perhaps cliché; masks, blood, and so on and so forth, but it’s all in the execution. Sonically, and visually, they’re full-on, and fearsome.

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King Garbage, with their contemporary take on American soul, return today with a new single and a Josh Finck directed video, ‘Busy On A Saturday Night.’ The song is the latest song to be unveiled from their forthcoming album, Heavy Metal Greasy Love, which will be released on April 1st via Ipecac Recordings and is available to pre-order now. Digital pre-orders include downloads of the new single ‘Busy On A Saturday Night’ plus two additional pre-release singles, ‘Piper’ and ‘Peanut Butter Kisses.’

‘Busy On A Saturday Night,’ which is available now on all streaming platforms, draws its inspiration from a magnet on that was on the fridge of King Garbage’s Vic Dimotsis’ great grandmother. “It had a sweaty male stripper pictured on it and said, ‘Everything I want is either taken, or busy on a Saturday night,’” laughs Vic. He adds, “Blurry as a memory on a slinky night out. A Tom Waits-inspired roadster awaits high high heels on a sure fire adventure. Losing articles of clothing to the magnet of the pavement, the band plays on through a duct from another world, and our eyes blur from both lust and disgust. Such motion seems still, as the accelerator and brakes lose meaning. A quiet lonely brunch awakens us from a distant stare.”

Watch the video here:

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Photo Credit: Josh Finck

Room40 – 14th January 2022

I know I’m not alone in experiencing the sensation that large parts of my life have been spent wading through treacle. It may be something of a cliché, but it’s a valuable simile for that slow struggle.

Although these are the associations circulating sluggishly in my mind, they have no bearing on the origins of the album’s title, which is, as Cooper himself explains, ‘a soundtrack for an otherwise silent film. The title of the album, and of course the film, is borrowed from my late friend Fred Hardy’s book The Religious Culture of India – Power, Love and Wisdom, considered to be one of the most important books on the subject. In this book Fred wrote,

“In 1835 the historian Macaulay investigated whether there was anything in the traditional Indian systems of learning and education that could be used in the training of native personnel. In fairness to Mr Macaulay, we must remember that those were days long before the writings of a Tolkien or a Mervyn Peake. He came to the devastating conclusion that people who believe in oceans of milk and treacle had nothing to offer to a modern system of education. A straightforward, realistic assessment in an age that believed in science and realism! The effects were far-reaching. Traditional Indian ways of looking at the world were written off as obsolete. India was provided with three universities (Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, founded in 1857) as the hothouses to nurture a custom[1]built, English-speaking Indian intelligentsia. A new age began for India, and two of its inevitable consequences were the demand for independence and the production of atomic bombs and satellites by the post-independent Bhārat.”

This places Oceans of Milk and Treacle in an altogether more academic context, and perhaps, if only a shade, this knowledge does colour my appreciation of the work specifically, an album consisting of nine compositions.

The pieces themselves present a collaged array of sounds, from distant rumbles and clanging hammers, to wind-chimes and static crackles. The clanking windchimes and eerie vocal moans and bleats, which drift amidst a breaking storm on the first piece, ‘A Chart of the Wet Blue Yonder’ contrive to create something quite sinister, and a significant contrast from the playful Jazz frivolities of ‘Boogie Boards and Beach Rubbish’. Oceans of Milk and Treacle is very much an album of contrasts and of strange sounds, combining chillout grooves and collaged field sounds and weirdness, often simultaneously.

It’s one of those albums that packs in so much, it transcends definition or categorisation, for better and worse – because genre distinctions tend to be lazy marketing pitches, and music – or any other artistic medium – should just be. Why can’t a book simply be a book or a story? Why does I have to be crime fiction, a thriller, sci-fi, or otherwise tossed into the netherworld of literary fiction or speculative fiction? And so why can’t an album simply be an oddball amalgamation of all sorts and simply be an album? Electric guitar and Moogs or something tinkle around while something electronic happens in the background to fill the space like crickets scratching, but clearly actually something less natural in origin on the warping, bending array of almost-pleasantness of ‘Tirta Gangga’, a woozy collision of sedated bleeps and chimes that sounds like it’s nodding off near the end – and it’s not an unpleasant experience.

The title tracks goes deeper into jazz territory, but there’s trilling analogue noise humming in the background, and it nags away at the peripheral sense, while on ‘Mono-Hydra’, amidst tweeting birdsong, the musical elements sound warped., bent, as if the tape is stretched and the notes spin off their spindles to spin into strangeness. ‘Under Vertical Sunlight’ brings hectic percussion to the fore, amidst drones and groans, before drifting into abstraction on ‘Toward Great Piles of Masonry’, which sounds like a wander down a city street while the clubs are still open.

Oceans of Milk and Treacle isn’t really a journey, but then what is it? A meandering sonic amble through a succession of sonic spaces and a range of scenarios? Possibly. Whatever it s it’s interesting, and devoid of genre conventions.

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Darkness treads light as a feather. The voice of despair gently wafts through the air. Delicate pain wrapped in radiant beauty pierces the heart slowly yet without hesitation. The sinister yet beguiling images that DARKHER aka Jayn Maiven paints with her ethereal vocals, guitars, and added strings conjure iridescent cinematic scenes in which it becomes hard to tell whether there lies beauty in darkness or if it is the other way around.

With her sophomore full-length "The Buried Storm", the guitarist, composer, lyricist, and producer has clearly succeeded to even improve the beloved alchemic musical formula that was firmly established on DARKHER’s debut album "Realms" in 2016. Her mostly eerie and at times even outright sinister sonic storytelling comes refined on every level and with sharpened contrasts that reflect the ongoing learning-process of their creator. 

DARKHER were conceived as the sole brainchild and solo-project of Northern English singer and guitarist Jayn Maiven in 2012. The dark and melancholic yet also massively heavy sound on the self-titled debut EP "Darkher" (2013) combined with the distinct vocals of the shy pre-Raphaelite beauty caused an audible buzz – particularly in the doom scene and brought DARKHER a quick record deal, which led to the following EP "The Kingdom Field" (2014) appearing via Prophecy Productions.

Despite not even having an album out, DARKHER were invited to prestigious festivals such as Roadburn in Tilburg, The Netherlands and Prophecy Fest in the Cave of Balve, where the English delivered widely celebrated performances. In 2016, the highly anticipated debut full-length "Realms" was finally released to much praise from critics and fans alike. Press compared DARKHER’s music with a wide range of highly individual acts such as CHELSEA WOLFE, ESBEN AND THE WITCH, SÓLSTAFIR, LOREENA MCKENNITT, and PORTISHEAD.

In the meantime, Jayn’s long-time drummer Christopher Smith, who already contributed to earlier releases, live shows, and again on "The Buried Storm" has been added as permanent member to the line-up of DARKHER.

"The Buried Storm" gives shape to the darkness lurking at the edge of consciousness, hidden from plain sight but patiently biding its time to strike out at the heart. DARKHER have delivered another frightening masterpiece that easily transcends musical boundaries with its broad appeal to friends of dark sounds regardless of genre. "The Buried Storm" captivates its listeners with deceptive sweetness – only to bind them tightly within a thorn-spiked nocturnal beauty forevermore.

Watch ‘Lowly Weep’ here:

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Image: Kathryn Pogue

Prog icons The Flower Kings recently announced the release of their 15th studio album By Royal Decree, set for 4th March 2022.  Now, the band are pleased to share the second single from the album ‘A Million Stars’. Watch the video here:

Roine comments: “Never to shy away from simple melody, this is The Flower Kings at their more accessible end, but still with a trademark TFK sound and symphonic textures.”

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Photo Credit: Lilian Forsberg

The band are back at their most creative, flowery and playful – mirroring the 70’s melting pot of folk, symphonic, electronic, jazz, blues, funk & prog. On the new album they have looked for more organic and vintage sounds, still centered around the foundation of drums, bass, guitars and the iconic Hammond, grand piano, mellotron & Moog synthesizers.

The album also sees the return of founding member Michael Stolt, who takes up bass guitar and vocals, alongside the line-up of Mirko DeMaio on drums, Zach Kamins on keyboards, Hasse Fröberg on vocal & guitar and Roine Stolt on vocal & guitars and Jonas Reingold on bass. The band convened in the middle of 2021 at Fenix Studios in Sweden to record through the fully analogue Rupert Neve mixing desk. The album also features beautiful cover art, once again created by Denver-based artist Kevin Sloan.

This year’s tour will also see the band revisiting their early years, performing tracks from ‘Retropolis’, ‘Stardust We Are’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Space Revolver’ and ‘Back In The World Of Adventures’. This will coincide with the release of newly remastered editions of The Flower Kings albums on CD & Vinyl later in 2022. The first confirmed live dates are as follows:

30th March 2022 – Katalin, Uppsala, Sweden

31st March 2022 – Musikens Hus, Gothenburg, Sweden

1st April 2022 – Södra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden

1-7th May 2022 – Cruise To The Edge, USA

11th May 2022  – TBA, Quebec City, Canada

12th May 2022  – TBA, Montreal, Canada

14th July 2022  – Rootsfestival, Notodden, Norway

4th Sept 2022  -  HRH Festival , UK

A Place To Bury Strangers have shared ‘I’m Hurt’, the newest single from their anticipated sixth studio album, ‘See Through You’, out February 4th (digital) and March 11th (vinyl) on Dedstrange. Following previous singles ‘Let’s See Each Other’ and ‘Hold On Tight’, the post-punk legends dive headfirst into suffering on today’s dark and explosive ‘I’m Hurt’.

The accompanying video, directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle (Dementer, Jug Face), is the first in a series of ‘See Through You’ videos from horror movie directors hand-selected by A Place To Bury Strangers. Under Kinkle’s frantic and hallucinatory direction, Oliver Ackermann’s expression of relentless liminal terror is transubstantiated into a brutal backwater blood feast. While the flickering, kinetic visuals will be familiar to anyone who has seen the band live, the psychological horror at the heart of ‘I’m Hurt’ is raw. Together, Kinkle and APTBS scramble our collective unconsciousness with scenes of grotesque public freakouts from the outskirts of the subliminal that are tied to a scorned woman’s black magic ritual which conjures up teenage demons on the hunt for revenge.

Watch ‘I’m Hurt’ here:

“‘I’m Hurt’ is the sound of friendship dying. At the time of writing this song, I was going out of my mind dwelling on conflict in my head and beating myself down while trying to rebuild my faith in humanity which is reflected in the actual structure of the song. The drums build with this frustration and a desire to scream with no voice. Listen closely to the vocal phrasing of ‘I’m Hurt’ in the chorus and you can hear the self-doubt and failure I was experiencing at the time,” says Ackermann.

A Place To Bury Stranger’s Oliver Ackermann always brings surprises. The singer and guitarist has been delighting and astonishing audiences for close to two decades, combining post-punk, noise-rock, shoegaze, psychedelia, and avant-garde music in startling and unexpected ways. As the founder of Death By Audio, creator of signal-scrambling stompboxes and visionary instrument effects, he’s exported that excitement and invention to other artists who plug into his gear and blow minds. In concert, A Place To Bury Strangers is nothing short of astounding — a shamanistic experience that bathes listeners in glorious sound, crazed left turns, transcendent vibrations, real-time experiments, brilliant breakthroughs.

And just as many of his peers in the New York City underground seem to be slowing down, Ackermann’s creativity is accelerating. He’s launched his own label – Dedstrange – dedicated to advancing the work of sonic renegades worldwide. He’s also refreshed the group’s line-up, adding Ceremony East Coast’s John Fedowitz on bass and Sandra Fedowitz on drums. Ackermann and John Fedowitz are childhood friends who played together in the legendary Skywave, and the band has never sounded more current, more courageous, or more accessible. 2021’s Hologram EP was the first release from the new line-up – and the first on Dedstrange – and the reaction was ecstatic, with Pitchfork saying that Ackermann had “transcended his gearhead tendencies, gracefully navigating fuzz and feedback loops as well as melodies and hooks”. ‘See-Through You’ pushes things even further. Simply put, it’s an epic, instant classic.

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A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS 2022 UK/EUROPEAN TOUR DATES – TICKETS ON SALE HERE

Wed 09 March – Hafenklang – Hamburg, Germany  

Thu 10 March – Beatpol – Dresden, Germany

Fri 11 March – Klub Poglos – Warsaw, Poland

Sat 12 March – Futurum – Prague, Czech Republic
Sun 13 March – Randal Club – Bratislava, Slovakia

Mon 14 March – Durer Kert – Budapest, Hungary

Wed 16 March – Control Club – Bucharest, Romania

Thu 17 March – Mixtape5 – Sofia, Bulgaria
Fri 18 March – Eightball – Thessaloniki, Greece

Sat 19 March – Temple – Athens, Greece
Mon 21 March – 25th of May Hall – Skopje, Macedonia

Tue 22 March – Club Drugstore – Belgrade, Serbia

Thu 24 March – Mochvara – Zagreb, Croatia
Fri 25 March – Freakout Club – Bologna, Italy

Sat 26 March – Largo – Rome, Italy
Sun 27 March – Legend Club – Milan, Italy

Tue 29 March – Bogen F – Zurich, Switzeralnd
Wed 30 March – Backstage – Munich, Germany

Thu 31 March – Caves Du Memoir – Martigny, Switzeralnd

Fri 01 April – La Trabendo – Paris, France
Sat 02 April – Lafayette – London, UK
Mon 04 April – Kayka – Antwerp, Belgium
Tue 05 April – Gleis 22 – Munster, Germany
Wed 06 April – Melkweg – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Thu 07 April – Vera- Groningen, Netherlands
Sat 09 April – Hus 7 – Stockholm, Sweden
Sun 10 April – John Dee – Oslo, Norway
Mon 11 April – Pumpehuset – Copenhagen, Denmark

Tue 12 April Hole 44 – Berlin, Germany
Wed 13 April – MTC – Cologne, Germany