The sea of people in the crowd at Saint Vitus was thick with beards and sweat last night as Kvelertak took the stage. The haze in the air matched the misty weather outside as they struck their first notes and began the onslaught of unbridled brutality. The Norwegian band is currently on tour with Mastodon and Gojira, but they headlined a one-off show at Saint Vitus in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
The crowd filtered in to the soundtrack of the excellent local support bands. Brooklyn's Kosmodemonic opened the show with the titanic riffs of their sludgy doom metal tunes, followed by the Metallica-inspired badassery of Extinction A.D. A circle pit erupted and the crowd split while a few headbanging fans chugged around and smashed into one another, but the majority of the crowd reserved themselves for what was to come. While Extinction's playing was spot-on across the board, it was their drummer, Mike Sciulara, who really tore things up.
Kvelertak got on stage after a short set break, and kicked things off with the formidable volume of 4 Orange full stacks across the stage. Erlend Hjelvik's owl helmet greeted us with glowing eyes and his furious howl began the band's aural assault.
They kicked things off with the blistering "Åpenbaring." While the band blazed through the first few songs, the center of the crowd erupted into a human hurricane of sweaty dudes. The pummeling, anthemic metal washed over the few hundred people in the room and the band shredded eardrums in the most delightful way. They cut right into triumphant "Spring Fra Livet." "Are three guitars really necessary?" you ask yourself. Yes they are. Yes the fuck they are.
When they broke in to "Bruane Brenn," the lead single from last year's Meir, the fist pumping fury really began, however disaster almost struck when the bass cab started tipping onstage. Then -- outta nowhere -- bass player Marvin Nygaard pulled a Spiderman and caught the damn thing from falling moments before he was crushed into a greasespot. It was kind of badass. "Did we just witness a miracle?" I asked the long-haired dude next to me. "Yup," he said.
The rest of the set was a mosh filled blur, with highlights including the chant-along "Sultans of Satan," the fist-pumping radness of "Blodtørst," and the trio of crushing closers from their first album.
The use of acoustic guitar on both their albums was a little missed during some of the breakdowns, but the energetic savagery of the live show more than made up for it. As soon as Erlend took the stage shirtless with an owl helmet, we knew we were in for something special, but the raw power of the six guys on stage turned into into an unforgettable night of face-melting fury. It felt like one of the last times fans would be able to see the band in such an intimate space, but that's a good thing. Norwegian metal becoming big enough to fill arenas would be amazing for everybody involved and Kvelertak is the band to pull it off.
For more news, music, videos, beards, and badassery from Kvelertak, check out their Zumic artist page.
Kvelertak at Saint Vitus Brooklyn, NY 5.14.2014 Setlist:
All photos by Brad Bershad.