|Kvelertak / Skeletonwitch – Sheffield, Corporation - 3 December 2016|
|Written by Matt Bunting|
|Tuesday, 20 December 2016 05:30|
It’s a good night for rock n’ roll in Sheffield tonight: at the other side of town countless NWOBHM bands are reliving the good old days in the Academy for Hard Rock Hell’s ‘Xmas Rocka’, but I’ve chosen to venture to Corporation to see two of modern metal’s more exciting bands.
First up is Skeletonwitch – a five piece death tinged old school metal band from Athens, Ohio. They’ve been quietly raging on since 2003 and released their debut album in 2004, ‘At one with the Shadows’. It’s testament to their quality that they can still get solid support slots like this, whilst being fairly unchanged soundwise.
They unleash all hell on Sheffield tonight with raw, deep vocals and buzzsaw guitars that sound like Slayer with hints of Maiden finesse here and there. The twin guitar attack is the key here: it’s bold and dense, but at the same time intricate and deft. Riff after riff after riff pour off the stage and it’s difficult to not bang the head. Relatively new vocalist Adam Clemans is a commanding presence, prowling the stage and inticing the crowd to get involved.
They play a few tunes from their current EP release ‘The Apothic Gloom’ along with older stuff like ‘Beyond the Permafrost’, but everything they play tonight is delivered with surgical precision. It all connects together like a six pronged transformer to reveal a super loud and intense wall of sound. Only a minor mosh breaks out towards the end, such is the lot of the support band. But despite a largely static crowd they put in an impressive shift and undoubtedly won many new friends tonight.
Kvelertak should be on every self-respecting metal head's radar by now. Just three albums in they are already leagues ahead of the majority of the plodding identi-core out there now. They hail from Norway, sing in Norwegian, have three guitarists, death tinged vocals and each song has more ideas than most bands albums, but somehow they lie teasingly close to a mainstream sound.
The complex yet devastatingly heavy songs they have written are absolutely perfectly tuned to be played in a sweaty club like the Corporation. The six members, led by Erlend Hjelvik come out to the opening tune on this years ‘Nattesferd’, ‘Dendrofil for Yggdrasil’, which follows into the first single of the new album ‘1985’. It’s a powerful one two that delivers influences as wide ranging as black metal to eighties pop rock.
The Kvelertak live sound for me has a lot to do with one of the guitarist’s unique playing style, he doesn’t use a pick. Which isn’t odd if you play blues, but this is pretty damn heavy metal. The lack of attack from this technique smooths the edges off the sound and provides an interesting extra texture. The other guitars play tight riffs with picks, often at different octaves to each other so when you combine all three you can hear the difference it makes having the third guy up there.
It’s definitely not a gimmick (or a mate at a loose end): it’s as important a part of Kvelertak as their songwriting. The gathered throng are anything but static, visibly showing their approval. The Norwegians get a proper Sheffield welcome from the front from the outset. This band is so tight onstage it is difficult to imagine them doing a stinker of a gig, and this was no exception: if you get the chance to check them out, don’t miss it: they are definitely one of the most forward thinking metal bands treading the clubs at the moment.