2013-03-09_013@ Newcastle O2 Academy II, March 8 2013

The last time a group of wild Norsemen invaded the North East of England with such ferocious gusto the fearful monks of Lindisfarne could be found diving for cover.

That was 1,220 years ago. Fast forward to 2013 and it seems long-haired Vikings still love nothing more than a foray into foreign soil, laying waste to the locals as they go.

There may have been a marked absence of any raping and pillaging around Kvelertak’s first show in Newcastle (at least nothing had been reported to the authorities by the time the band departed Tyneside for Glasgow at 8am the following day) but that’s not to say this was a trip without incident. 

Blazing riffs, brutal vocals and punishing rhythms shocked an initially dumbfounded crowd into submission. Yet once the people of Newcastle had come to terms with a typically relentless Kvel-attack the shackles were thrown off and the party started.

Frontman Erlend Hjelvik is a pocket rocket raging with pent-up frustration and after a rumoured spell in the gym he chose to bare his chest as well as his emotions. The face – and body – of this brutal crew he is also the unique sound underpinning Kvelertak’s full metal racket.

2013-03-09_015If the band’s black metal roots are clearly visible – and audible – as they rifle through the very best of their critically acclaimed self-titled debut then this set suggested follow-up Meir (released on March 25) is a more commercial affair.

New single Bruanne Brenn sounds like Thin Lizzy mixed with Metallica as Kvelertak’s three-pronged axe attack marries catchy melody with crunching riffage. It’s a killer combination and the reason this band will be big, big news very, very soon.

Hjelvik has never hidden the fact that he’s keen to hark back to his classic rock education given the chance. And if Kvelertak are heavier than a lead-lined long boat then their respectful nods to 70s rock guarantee huge crossover appeal.

Squeezing six burly Norwegians onto one tiny Academy II stage was always going to require greater planning than an assault on Holy Island but the chance to spread out appealed.

Hjelvik stage-dived while bass player Marvin Nygaard balanced precariously on a shelf designed for six pints rather than a six-footer. But it worked a treat.

Kvelertak Live 2013Heavy metal needs new heroes and Kvelertak will give everything for the cause. Passion, power and lyrics delivered in a visceral Norwegian tongue make for a heady night’s entertainment – throw in the best selection of merch this side of Gene Simmons’ study and global domination awaits. The Kvelertak invasion is underway – submit or be crushed.

Simon Rushworth

Pictures courtesy of:

John Burrows @ishootgigs