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Hailing from Norway, Viking-descended metal sextet Kvelertak were last seen on Australian shores as part of Soundwave 2012. They also joined the likes of Gojira and Mastodon for a select couple of Sidewaves, leaving audiences in wonder at how the sonic force that is a Kvelertak live performance managed to place third on the bill, at venues barely able to handle each act on its own. On this trip Down Under Kvelertak have their own headlining tour, so punters can finally get the full dose of their Scandinavian power.
First up on Tuesday night were Melbourne’s own King Parrot, who have earned a solid fan base and stellar reputation for their ferocious live show since the release of their debut album Bite Your Head Off. They certainly proved their worth to a healthy early crowd at the Corner with a punishing live show.
Vocalist Matt Young paraded through the crowd on the shoulders of a stage hand, screaming his lyrics into the faces of unsuspecting audience members, like the alien fiend in the infamous Aphex Twin video for Come To Daddy. Bassist and serial audience heckler Wayne “Slatts” Slattery made wise cracks about the docile Tuesday night audience “saving their necks for Thursday”.
Weighing heavily on material from Bite Your Head Off but also including earlier cuts such as Epileptic Butcher and Cold Steel Probe, the audience were constantly attentive, perhaps to avoid being startled by Young’s personal space breaches. If the crowd weren’t warm to the local boys before their set began, they surely were after it.
As the sound of Kyuss on the PA was lowered and the curtain covering the Corner stage was pulled back, the image of an outstretched owl with glowing yellow eyes sitting atop the head of Kvelertak vocalist Erland Hjelvik was something to behold. Set opener Åpenbaring reached crescendo, and the perched owl stared eerily into the crowd.
It appeared as though the sextet were missing guitarist Maciek Ofstad, but Hjelvik – by then sans head piece – informed his audience that Ofstad had fractured his knee cap during their Sydney show and was still valiantly performing while seated on a couch side of stage.
Ulvetid was given a blistering overhaul, where stage divers and crowd surfers alike showed their appreciation by catapulting themselves into each other in an aerial showdown. The pace picked up towards the close of the show, with cuts such as Blodtørst, Offernatt and set highlight Kvelertak delivered with the utmost brutality.
Bodies flew thick and fast across the pulsating pit, and one can only wonder what sort of carnage could have ensued had the Corner Hotel’s much maligned support beams (smack bang in the middle of the standing area) not proved to be buffers between the various heaving clusters of fans.
Lending equal time to their self-titled debut album and 2013's follow up Meir, Kvelertak’s set was a stomping affair, with the audience feeding off the energy produced on stage. Likewise, the band obviously revelled in the crowd’s enthusiasm.
Kvelertak’s brand of stoner and progressive metal was at all times impressive in a live setting, not least through their ability to maintain a strong sense of rhythm while highlighting the complex array of musicianship on display, delivering songs to which you can mosh uncontrollably or simply get lost in.