Boisterous and full of life, Wounds youthful charm sees them gain some approving nods and yelps from the bank holiday crowd. These cheeky Irishmen have given us some catchy numbers that come across like a snotty Cancer Bats without getting the half full venue to liven up to much. ‘Dead, Dead, Fucking, Dead’ still packs a punch showing promise for the future but this clearly wasn’t their night.
Main support Empress A.D. feel quite out of place on this bill. Playing a set of plodding mid-paced riffs and some vocals which are clearly out of tune, they also provide little stage presence in spite of singer/guitarist Ollie Loring‘s half-hearted attempts to get the sedated audience to participate in any manner. Bank holiday crowds can be notorious for ignoring support acts, but Empress phone in a performance that does little to impress. When a stream of punters are gravitating towards the bar that should say all you need to hear about this lacklustre performance.
Thankfully the venue is packed for the arrival of Norse wrecking machine Kvelertak. Possessing enough energy to power a generator, frontman Erlend Hjelvik appears in his owl helmet as the band launch into ‘Åpenbaring’ but it isn’t long before he hurls himself offstage into the waiting arms of the rabid fans at the front of the stage. Their potent cocktail of black metal, punk fury and rock ‘n’ roll hooks soon shakes the crowd out of their slump and ignites frantic slam dancing. The infectious ‘Bruane Brenn’ and ‘Ulvetid’ scarcely allow room to breathe with the temperature soaring.
Admittedly while sophomore release Meir (Roadrunner) was a decent effort, it is cuts from the band’s incendiary self-titled debut that inspire the greatest amount of audience participation. ‘Fossegrim’ pours more fuel upon the burning pyre with its gang vocal refrains being picked up by overjoyed fans who Hjelvik passes the mic to let them sing-a-long. The triumphant encore of ‘Mjød’ and ‘Utrydd Dei Svake’ demonstrate that these Norwegians embody everything which makes hardcore, punk and metal so vital. Another memorable performance from an act who prove that Norway has more to offer than just spikes and corpsepaint. Kvelertak don’t appear to be surrendering their stranglehold on the title of best live band any time soon.
Words by Ross Baker
Photos by Stuart Alexander Rees