Kvelertak – Live at The Borderline, London 16/08/12

20 Aug
Kvelertak Live at the Borderline

Kvelertak is Norwegian for FUN

Just four short months ago, I had seen a grand total of zero metal bands in the previous 20 years.

Now, I’m still nursing creaking bones and a sore neck from a fourth amazing show in as many months.

Stumbling out of Kvelertak at The Borderline on Thursday night, drenched in sweat, ears ringing and grinning to myself like a lunatic at what I’ve just experienced, I’m on a high.

I’m hooked.

What is there to really say about Kvelertak? If you know and love their arse-kicking debut then you can probably imagine their live show.

With six crazy bastards packed onto a tiny stage, Kvelerak generate instant insane intensity.

It’s absolutely fucking electric.

As befitting my semi-geriatric status I tend to hover around the mosh, soaking up second-hand energy like a desperate ex-smoker sucking up passive fumes.

Yet from the first demented notes until the last throes of carnage, I have never moshed so hard.

When Kvelertak are in the house, it’s simple. Can’t. Not. Mosh.

With my newfound brothers in sweat and good-natured violence, I throw myself around like a man half my age. My usual caution is curiously absent, I’m not afraid to get deeper in the mosh.

The sheer visceral physicality of Kvelertak draws me in and I bloody love it.

I lose myself in the volume, the irresistible kineticism and the irrepressible energy. The burdens on my shoulders slip away and I am absolutely and utterly in the moment.

It is a curious mixture of transcendence and manic glee.

Anyway. Kvelertak don’t have a massive back catalogue and so their set simply reshuffles their eponymous album and adds three new songs.

The setlist if you are interested was:

Kvelertak Setlist Borderline 16/08/12

A list of songs. That Kvelertak played.

There a couple of slight lulls during the more mid-paced sections but they are welcome breathers from the compulsive convulsions of the pit.

By the end of their main set, the pit seems to swallow the whole club. Mjød is a mind-blowing closer. The crowd literally erupts with strobe-lit bodies flying in every direction.

That three minutes was perhaps the most fun I have ever had at a gig: head thrown back and screaming “Odin ga oss/suttung sitt mjød/ det magiske mjød / det daglige brød“, climbing on the shoulders of strangers, laughing and thinking of my three-year-old son (it’s his favourite song and we sing it together), wishing he could somehow have been there too.

Those too-short ecstatic moments ended up in a tangle of limbs, pressed against the stage with my metal comrades, throwing horns at the singer and howling for more.

Before even that crazed climax, the performance had come to resemble barely contained chaos.

Singer Erland managed to sing and crowd-surf (face-down!) without missing a word while the rest of the band and crew took turns to leap into the crowd while still playing. At one point I was holding up a different guitarist in each hand as both of them cranked out riffs on their backs in mid-air.

There was a new song in the encore. First impression was that it was quite straight-up hardcore: very fast and direct. In the pit, elbows flew.

Kvelertak’s black metal influence is generally a fairly minor aspect of their sound and all the more so live. The show didn’t feel in any way black. It was too damn feelgood.

A final word about the support.

Årabrot played a great set. Sludgy, punky, bleak but wierdly groovy and compelling, it’s reminiscent of The Melvins.

The trio, who play half-naked in small shorts, are very heavy and very strange. They sound like a stone triceratops smashing out of a concrete cell and yet somehow make you want to bang your head while shivering and shaking like an exorcism.

Now I just need to work out where to get my next hit of live metal mania…

Images published under creative commons from http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonanamary/ (check out her photostream for some cracking photos).

5 Responses to “Kvelertak – Live at The Borderline, London 16/08/12”

  1. hhbrady August 20, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    Man! London gets all the cool bands! (Shocker, huh?)

    I’m with you in terms of the live-band-later-life-renaissance– I went from 1991 to 2007 without seeing anyone live. The act that broke the seal, interestingly, was Ornette Coleman in Burlington, Vermont. After that… it was on, baby.

    Do you have your next one planned? Weedeater will be in town next month, but other than that I’ve got nothing coming up. Of course, now I’m way in the sticks– this is no London.

    • Kuz August 21, 2012 at 7:30 am #

      I feel so lucky. So many great bands, all in cool little venues. Crowds are pretty friendly – no meatheads and a mix of ages, even a few women! I have moved 50km out of London just recently but still work there, so it’s down tools then have a beer or two with work friends before a short tube ride has me at the gig in 15 minutes! Amazing.

      While I saw a fair amount of live music in the past 20 years since Metallica in 1992 paused my live metal history, it was a very different experience (everything from hip-hop to indie, electronic to folk) to a metal show.

      The big hurdle for me as I said in an earlier post was working up the courage to go solo. Now it’s not even an issue. I’ve been on my own to all four shows this year.

      What’s next? Nothing planned yet. I’ve seen four of my absolute favourite bands this year, so it will be hard to top that. I’d love to see Weedeater – they came through around the time my daughter was born so I missed them.

      I’ll look forward to reading a post on that – Dixie is a madman!

      I’d love to see Fucked Up or maybe a super-heavy death metal band like Disma as I haven’t seen a 100% proper HEAVY METAL show yet. Black Breath was the closest but they have a deep seam of punk in their sound too.

  2. Full Metal Attorney August 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    Kvelertak is one of the few bands I would make the effort to see live. Sad to think they would probably never make it to Lincoln, Nebraska.

    Årabrot, I’ve tried to get into, but just can’t seem to get it.

    • Kuz August 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

      Årabrot made no sense to me either until I saw them live. It’s so grindingly heavy that it’s almost trance-inducing.

      Kvelertak are touring in November with Converge but the closest they come to you is Lawrence, Kansas – which is probably a little too far to catch a support slot!


  1. Kvelertak Live In London: Owl Party | Monkey Defies Gravity - March 18, 2013

    […] save me repeating myself, you may as well read my review of last August’s Borderline gig. Bar a setlist reshuffle and an indeterminate number of new songs, this felt like a rerun of that […]

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