Kvelertak live at Borderline, London

Kvelertak
Borderline, London

16th August 2012

After the collapse of this years Sonisphere festival many of the estranged bands from the fallen line up have been turning up in London to continue to make their presence felt. In a week that’s seen two sold out shows by Refused it’s the turn of Norway’s hottest metal export Kvelertak to slay London with two sold out nights at the uber tiny Borderline.

The bearded throng of punters chant as the sextet saunter on to the tiny stage and launch into ‘Sjøhyenar (Havets herrer)’, vocalist Erlend Hjelvik hurling himself into the crowd. We’re treated to further choice cuts from their 2010 debut as the powerhouses that are ‘Fossegrim’ and ‘Blødtorst’ rain down upon the swirling audience. There really is something unique about this band and their punk/metal/rock/blastbeat hybrid is difficult to define or imagine on paper yet it gels in with a sadistic coherency both on record and in the live setting. Some new tracks are aired too tonight and if monsters like ‘Spring Fa Livet’ are anything to go by album number two is going to be a bruiser.

As their frenetic set rumbles on the crammed confines of this miniscule venue really begin to heat up and mic after mic is replaced as crowd surfers and divers alike get entangled in Hjelvik’s cables as he stalks the stage. The climax of the show is a rousing rendition of ‘Mjød’ which featured in the Troll Hunter movie, fists punching in the air and the crowd mouthing along to Norwegian lyrics they can neither understand nor pronounce. This is the beauty of Kvelertak, a band who let the music do the talking and transcend language barriers. More bands need to play with this venom and conviction, album number two soon please?

Words: Miles Hackett

Sonisphere Festival 2011 live review and gallery

Knebworth Park,
8th-10th July 2011

Words by Alex Gosman
Photos by Slack

heavymetal_beard_Johnny Chow_cavalera_conspiracyFRIDAY

We arrived at the festival sweating as we lurched past the usual Sonisphere sniffer dogs and managed to get there just in time for the opening track of CEREBRAL BALLZY who didn’t let us down. Hardcore made by skaters has always had an edge. The likes of JFA, Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Suicidal Tendencies have paved the way for this new breed and they are taking their version on 80’s skate core to the hilt. Look out for their album this month as it’s a short, sharp shock of excitement that you need in your life.

Photo right: Johnny Chow of Cavalera Conspiracy – thanks for the beers Texan!

ANTHRAX’s sense of humour and penchant for experimentation have always set them apart from the rest of the gang, but unfortunately Joey Belladonna’s Noo Yoik bonhomie struggles to compensate for the cold winds that play havoc with their sound. Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser does a fine job of filling in for an absent Scott Ian, but ultimately the crowd seem more interested in keeping warm. Dark clouds gathering overhead herald the arrival of MEGADETH, who open with a suitably brooding ‘Trust’. Dave Mustaine (a.k.a. The Sulking Lion) doesn’t have much to say for himself today (as usual – Z-Ed) , but dispenses new song ‘Public Enemy No. 1’ in fine style, and the appearance of Vic Rattlehead for ‘Peace Sells…’ is a welcome surprise. (If the Big Four of metal was compared to British football, then this band are Tottenham Hotspur! Z-Ed)

You can rely on SLAYER to grab a festival by the scruff of its neck and kick the shit out of it, and today they don’t disappoint, They rip through the likes of ‘Disciple’, ‘Hate Worldwide’ and – of course- ‘Raining Blood’ with their trademark brutal speed and precision, although the most disturbing aspect of their set is the grin that Tom Araya sports as he roars through ‘Dead Skin Mask’.

Whilst Slayer’s happiness filled the main stage field, many other people who have good taste in music were witnessing the raging musical assault of BLACK BREATH. Their brash, thrash and hardcore hybrid steamrolled the tent and left everyone open mouthed. Heavy Breathing is the name of their album, do it.

METALLICA, of course, have been headlining festivals for the best part of two decades, but these old dogs can still create a sense of occasion; kicking off with a furious ‘Hit The Lights’. Most of the old favourite are present and correct, as is – unfortunately – a tedious mid-set instrumental, but the highlight is saved for the encore; with members of their Big Four brethren joining them for a stage-swamping romp through Diamond Head’s ‘Am I Evil?’. Lars Ulrich looks like he’s about to explode with joy, and we leave feeling pretty damn satisfied too.

We manage to sneak into the Bohemia tent for a quick blast of KILLING JOKE, and although it’s really our feet that are killing us, the band still get us dancing and hollering with a suitably visceral ‘Wardance’. Jaz Coleman is as much a demonic preacher as a vocalist, and long may he remain so.

frankcarterpureloveSATURDAY

For those feeling a bit sore from the night before (including us), RICHARD CHEESE & LOUNGE AGAINST THE MACHINE are a welcome proposition, inducing a wide sea of grins in the crowd as they reinterpret various rock and metal classics in a smooth lounge style. ARCHITECTS are on rabid form, inciting a tsunami of crowd surfers within minutes of hitting the stage, but it is GALLOWS that prove the pick of the early bunch. No longer the underdogs of old, they’ve mutated into a raucous rock n’ roll behemoth that eats stages of this size for breakfast; and although thew news of Frank Carter’s imminent departure from the ranks is sad indeed, you can’t deny that he’s bowing out on top.

BAD RELIGION fare less well; the rain ensuring that the SoCal veterens play to a somewhat depleted crowd on the Apollo stage. The handful of recent tracks suggest that Greg Graffin’s crew aren’t content to rest on their laurels just yet, but in a festival setting, the likes of ‘Suffer’ and ‘Generator’ would have been more welcome. (Shame they also ended the set with Graffin forgetting the words! Z-Ed)

Over now to the smaller stages for some impressive new blood. REVOKER offer up some fierce but streamlined thrash/groove anthems that prove more substantial than most of the fare coming from their South Wales musical brethren. Leeds’ PULLED APART BY HORSES, meanwhile, are gloriously unhinged; vocalist Tom Hudson almost screeching himself hoarse over a cauldron of thunderous riffs and scattergun rhythms. Watch out for these two.

WEEZER prove to be one of the highlights of the weekend; unleashing a wonderfully melodic set that does not feature a single bad song. Rivers Cuomo is in a playful mood, hopping down onto the barrier for a bizarre but entertaining cover of Wheatus’ ‘Teenage Dirtbag’, and by the time they close with ‘Buddy Holly’, they have the crowd in the palm of their collective hand. Oh, and bonus points for banishing the rain as well.

BIFFY CLYRO don’t need the underdog sympathy vote any more; they’ve got more than enough quality songs to fill a headline slot. Urged on by a crowd much smaller than Metallica’s, but just as loyal, they conjure up one of the weekend’s loudest sing-alongs; and the bizarre chess-set stage set-up just adds to the sense of occasion.

SUNDAY

11am on a Sunday is a tall order for most festival goers, but VOLBEAT’s mix of heavy riff action and Social Distortion-esque rock n’ roll swagger are well worth an early start. PARKWAY DRIVE whip up an impressively-sized pit for this time of day, with their frenzied metalcore attack, and guitarist Luke Kilpatrick deserves kudos for soldiering on despite having recently broken his leg. The rubber dinghy crowd-surfing competition during ‘Deliver Me’ makes for a quite a spectacle.

Never was a band more appropriately named than MASTODON – the rumble of Troy Sanders’ bass can be heard a mile off. Their monolithic riffs crash and surge around us, and whether it’s the more progressive ‘Crack The Skye’ material or a bludgeoning ‘I Am Ahab’, they’re never less than mesmerising.

MOTORHEAD are low on surprises, but high on thrills. The couple of recent songs played tonight sound just like the old stuff, but that matters little when every song is the very essence of outlaw music – no wonder bikers love them so. Oh, and the fire-breathing girls that join the band onstage for ‘Killed By Death’ are a nice bonus.

We nip into the Bohemia tent just in time to see CANCER BATS damn near blow the roof off. The Canadian quartet are getting leaner, meaner and more enthusiastic with time, and with seemingly no end of riffs or energy in the tank, their forthcoming album should be a corker. The tent is rammed, and rightly so. Back on the Apollo stage, LIMP BIZKIT are pretty entertaining despite being musically shit. Fred Durst’s clunky rapping and clichéd posturing is almost painful to witness, but it has to be said that ‘Rollin’ is something of a guilty pleasure.

And so to SLIPKNOT, on the closing night of their first major tour since the death of bassist Paul Grey. Vocalist Corey Taylor is clearly overwhelmed by the crowd’s support, declaring tonight “a celebration”, and although this is pretty much the same show that we witnessed at the Download Festival in 2009, the likes of ‘The Heretic Anthem’ and a vicious ‘People = Shit’ sound as feral as ever.

Same time next year? Yeah, go on then!

CEREBRAL_ballzy

heavymetal_beards_duncan_prospheticrecords

Frank Carter leaves Gallows & live video from Sonisphere

frankcarter_purelove_gallowsFrank Carter announced that he was leaving Gallows on Saturday during the band’s explosive Sonisphere 2011 Festival set. After 6 years of fronting the UK’s most exciting punk band, Frank is about to move onto pastures new with his new project Pure Love.

After speaking with him in the band’s dressing room on Saturday, Frank admitted that Pure Love was much different to Gallows in musical terms. Fans will realise pretty quickly that shouting and screaming will be replaced by crooning and singing. He told us that Nick Cave and QOTSA, had more in common with the new project with Jim Carroll (whose previous projects have included Suicide File, Clouds, Hope Conspiracy) and that they have been writing tunes over the phone and internet and hooking up whenever in NYC. The pair will be recording their debut album in September and then will hit the road later this year so look out for announcements.

As for Gallows, they will continue to play without Frank, and they are about to announce the identity of their new vocalist, who is said to be Canadian, in the coming weeks. Look out for the last remaining shows with Frank at the helm at the dates below and embrace the changes.

JULY 2011

10th SWANSEA SIN CITY
11th GLOUCESTER GUILDHALL
17th GUILDFORD GUILFEST ROCK CAVE
22nd COCKERMOUTH FESTIVAL
23rd ULU LONDON

Frank has this to say on leaving the band: “It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce my departure from Gallows. It seems that Gallows have hit a crossroads in our writing process and unfortunately myself and the rest of the boys have different ideas regarding the sound of Gallows going forward. Gallows have decided they are going to continue on without me and I wish the boys the best of luck for the future. Gallows will be fulfilling all of our current touring plans until August 1st so please come down to a show and help me make each show a total celebration!”

Watch the beginning and the end of Gallows’ amazing live set from the Sonisphere Festival from the stage here filmed by (we think) Frank’s Mum. We have had the pleasure of being very close to this band for 6 years and wish them all the very best with the 2 new projects. We will bring you fresh news when we get it.

Sonisphere get Weezer!

Sonisphere was one of our favourite festivals last year, despite stiff competition! This year’s line-up is looking even more impressive than last year’s with Weezer, Airbourne and Architects the latest acts to be added to the bill.

Not too shabby considering The Big 4 (Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth), Biffy Clyro and Slipknot are also playing and there will no doubt be a multitude of up and coming and established acts to be unveiled in the weeks leading up to the festival.

Sonisphere takes place 8th – 10th July 2011 at Knebworth House. For tickets and more info click here. The line up so far is:

THE BIG 4 – METALLICA, SLAYER, MEGADETH, ANTHRAX
BIFFY CLYRO
SLIPKNOT
AIRBOURNE
ARCHITECTS
DIAMOND HEAD
IN FLAMES
MASTODON
MOTÖRHEAD
PARKWAY DRIVE
WEEZER

We definitely want a repeat of Weezer’s brilliant antics at Reading and Leeds last year:

The Big Four

Metallica/Megadeth/Slayer/Anthrax
Sonisphere: The Big 4 Live From Sofia, Bulgaria
(Universal)

“This is a celebration, man! These bands have been together almost 30 years, and we’re all still alive, still on the road!”  Metallica’s James Hetfield declares to the 50,000-odd Sofia crowd. Indeed, what with the various personal troubles that all four of thrash metal’s leading lights have weathered over the years, combined with the genre’s relative decline in popularity during the 1990s, it’s amazing that they’ve all survived long enough to finally unite for this summer 2010 jaunt across eastern Europe. The performances themselves, you’ll be pleased to hear, prove that these thrash veterans are in particularly rude health.

Anthrax have had more than their fair share of internal turmoil lately, but they seem to have stabilised with the return of Joey Belladonna to the fold. They blast through the likes of ‘Caught In A Mosh’ and ‘Antisocial’ with typical enthusiasm and gonzoid charm. Torrential rain accompanies the arrival of Megadeth, but neither band nor crowd are deterred in the slightest, the former unleashing a slew of their finest efforts as the latter mosh along in multi-coloured rain coats. The return of long-serving bassist Dave Ellefson has clearly rejuvenated Mustaine’s crew, and they still impress on technicality alone.

Slayer, meanwhile, just get on with being their usual hyper-speedy, musically brutal and lyrically sinister selves. Vocalist/bassist Tom Araya has recently recovered from back surgery, but his enraged howl still hits the target on classics like ‘War Ensemble’ and ‘Raining Blood’, whilst the more recent ‘Hate Worldwide’ shows that his band aren’t going soft in their increasingly old age.

Metallica, of course, have been masters of this stadium lark for years now, and tonight they rise to the occasion in typically grandiose style; flanked by countless pyrotechnics as the crowd roar themselves hoarse to ‘Creeping Death’, ‘Blackened’ and a suitably epic ‘Master Of Puppets’. A couple of ‘Death Magnetic’ songs help to keep things fresh, but the real treat is saved for the encore – namely, an all-star, 4-band rendition of Diamond Head’s NWOBHM classic ‘Am I Evil?’, with Hetfield, Belladonna and Mustaine trading vocals, and each drummer with their own snare. It’s quite a spectacle; one very much in keeping with the spirit of the day, and everyone involved is clearly enjoying themselves.

There’s also a 45-minute documentary that focuses on the preparations for the show, and on various members of the bands before and after they play their sets. It’s worth a look, if only because it really captures the sense of occasion. Here’s hoping that such a show will soon be repeated on UK soil; until then, this is a great document of a very special day for the pioneers of thrash metal.

Alex Gosman

Sonisphere Festival – Live

Knebworth House
30th July – 1st August
Photos from P.G. Brunelli

Sonisphere is a young festival. Despite 2010 only being the second year it’s been in existence, organizers Kilimanjaro seem to have crafted a well-organised, enjoyable environment with an abundance of varied yet complementary acts. We certainly saw a rather strange mix of bands and this is probably the only review you’ll read that only takes in one main stage band.

Now extended to two and a half days, the first night involved us checking out new British talent March of The Raptors on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage. Their gnarly metal-tinged hardcore went down well with the amassed crowd and, though the sound was slightly scrappy, the weekend was off to a good start! Throw in an intense wave of instrumental madness from 65 Days of Static at the Bohemia Stage and some epic power ballads in the Strongbow Bowtime bar later in the evening and we were definitely feeling like we were onto a winner.

We’ll be honest. We didn’t get off to the earliest of starts on Saturday (or Sunday, but we’ll get to that). However, Little Fish provided a great kickstart with frontwoman JuJu’s Patti Smith-esque demeanour winning the band a whole host of new fans at the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage. Good Charlotte were next on the agenda. Yes, you may laugh, but even though we knew they were likely to be fun, they actually sounded damn good too. Songs like ‘Girls And Boys’ and ‘The River’ (dedicated to The Rev of Avenged Sevenfold) are undeniable hits and when the band played a cover of Blink 182’s ‘Dammit’, it definitely sounded better than the original. Plus they get props for mentioning that they’ll be watching Gallows later.

Gallows are just standardly brilliant. No matter how many times you think you’ve seen them do it all before, it’s always entertaining. A circle pit round the outside of the tent they’re playing, a crowdsurfing Frank Carter, a crowdsurfing dude in a wheelchair and guest vocals from Eva Rolo Tomassi, Good Charlotte et al. What more could you want? I think I’m going to expect a crowdsurfing horse next time. Later in the evening, Polar Bear Club play to a considerably less-packed tent. But they don’t care, they’re just happy to be there! Lesser bands would struggle to rise to the occasion when faced with a sparse crowd but everyone assembled is loving it and the band are no exception. Ace punk rock played with heart. We tried to get to Therapy? later but we failed. The tent was overflowing with people intent on catching their heroes. Apparently there was a powercut though. Bummer. After that, it all goes a bit hazy…

Sunday starts off with the realization that we’re going to miss Henry Rollins do his thing. 11am? I don’t think so. We’re sad to miss out but sleep is necessary. We walk on site rather later in the day to the sounds of Slayer. Bring Me The Horizon play a frenzied set, rattling off their vicious quasi-anthems to an intent crowd. A barrage of crowdsurfers bring the carnage and guitarist Jona climbs way up to the top of the stage rigging mid-song, making it look easy and coming across like Spidey himself. We have to rush off towards the end but we later discovered that Oli Sykes’ dad even made an appearance. Bizarre. But very awesome. Hopefully they silenced a few haters with that incendiary performance.

Unfortunately, I only get to hear Placebo from a distance but by all accounts they play a stunning set, including an amazing Nirvana cover. Converge is next on our list and due to extreme exhaustion, we take it all in from our seat on a nice patch of grass in the corner of the tent. Still, brutal as fuck. Funeral For A Friend headline the same tent with an emotional set that marks guitarist Darran’s last show with the band. There are also plenty of guest appearances with Charlie Simpson and Oli Sykes (who apparently stepped in for a passed-out Matt once when he was just a fan in the crowd years ago) taking to the mic at various points of the set. It’s singalong central and there are definitely a few eyes welling up. A fitting send-off! Later on we get dragged to Tek-One at the Strongbow bar and really don’t want to be convinced but we kind of are. Woah that dude can drum. Wobwobwob, indeed.

You should probably book your tickets for next year.

Winey G