(Last December, guest writer Johan Paulin compiled for us a wonderful feature on metal bands based in the relatively small town of Umeå in northern Sweden. Today he rejoins us with a lively show report from Umeå, along with photos he took at the event.)
While the rest of Umeå celebrated its inauguration as the 2014 European capital of culture (if you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, neither do we), I headed out to the old slaughterhouse outside of town where Kvelertak, Spiders, and Håll det äkta were preparing to fuck shit up in a most royal of ways.
Truth be told, I was never really sold on Kvelertak’s eclectic mix of punk, metal, and Norwegian insanity. But their second album Meir had slowly warmed me over, and besides, given Umeå’s shitty geographical location, you’re pretty much required to attend whenever a foreign band shows up or have your metal license revoked.
Local band Håll det äkta started off the night with their nimble one-two bursts of hardcore smackdown, channeling both Refused’s first album as well as Gorilla Biscuits and Earth Crisis. With slightly silly lyrics in Swedish and a nasal singer, the band might seem like an acquired taste, but what they lack in vocal brutality they more than make up for with intense tremolo guitars, authoritative drum beats, and instantly mosh-worthy breakdowns that sent the crowd into a pit-frenzy. The band has a strong local following, and their dedication carried the band whenever they happened to lose the plot.
After Håll det äkta’s hardcore hurricane I couldn’t think of a better band to turn up the violence even further than Gothenburg’s Spiders… no wait, I can! I know that Kvelertak and Spiders are a package tour and all that, but who thought they were a good match to begin with? Spiders’ lukewarm and groove-emasculated take on 60-70’s rock not only had very few commonalities with the other bands, it [deleted by the editor]. NCS policy is to focus on the positive sides of metal, so I’ll just say that I’d be surprised if Spiders sold any merch that evening, and leave it at that.
And then came the Norwegians.
I’ve previously heard that Kvelertak were supposed to be a ferocious live band who give 100% — and I can safely say that it has been a long time since I’ve seen a more arresting group of musicians occupy a stage, and that’s not even counting the music!
The triple-guitar attack is probably warranted, but in a live setting it’s hard to tell if they could have gotten by with just two guitars. But no matter who played what, the riffs, melodies, and solos that churned out of the speakers like catapulted magma were spot-fucking-on. Singer Erlend Hjelvik, while slightly one-dimensional in his delivery, more than made up for it with energy and vitriol, instigating the most stage dives I’ve seen since the 90’s hardcore movement. In fact, the usually reserved and non-moving Umeå-crowd got worked up in such a frenzy that I began to suspect that out-of-towners had infiltrated in our midst.
Since Kvelertak only have two full-lengths under their belts they played pretty much all of them, save for the odd half-dozen songs, but what struck me was how well all the songs congealed with each other while still retaining easily identifiable individual traits. Songs like “Bruane Brenn”, “Månelyst”, “Sultans of Satan”, and “Evig Vandrar” propelled the intensity of the gig to something that was easily one of my most enjoyable concerts in recent memory.
- Spring fra livet
- Sultans of Satan
- Bruane Brenn
- Ordsmedar av rang
- Evig Vandrar
- Sjøhyenar (Havets herrer)
- Utrydd dei svake