Updated: Tuesday, 2nd June 2020 @ 1:57pm

Gig review: Kvelertak @ Manchester Academy 3

Gig review: Kvelertak @ Manchester Academy 3

| By Alex Watt

From the moment Kvelertak hit the stage in Manchester’s intimate Academy 3, it is clear the assembled crowd of several hundred are in for a wild and noisy night.

The Norweigian metallers have fused their country’s native black metal with thrash, punk and classic hard rock to create a sound that is entirely unique and genuinely thrilling.

The catchy riff of Apenbaring heralds the Stavanger six-piece’s arrival and vocalist Erlend Hjelvik strolls on stage wearing an owl on his head, making him perhaps the first musician to so effortlessly command an audience while sporting taxidermy.

With three guitarists, Kvelertak’s sound is crisp, full and above all else, very loud. The sheer might of their music hits you with the force of a truck and it’s impossible not to be taken in by the swagger of the licks.

By the fourth song, Bruanne Brenn, the moshpits have opened and Hjelvik has launched himself into the assembled throng of people stood at the front of the stage.

Soon, a number of audience members have joined him; clambering onto the stage and leaping off to indulge in the crowd surfing ritual.

Kverlertak’s energy is infectious. As all the members headbang furiously throughout their set and swing their guitars around wildly, it is remarkable that a stage this small can contain the energetic six-piece.

Hjelvik spends the majority of the 75-minute set hidden under a mop of hair and it doesn’t take long before his flailing arms have taken out one of the mic stands, leaving a terrified roadie to scuttle onto the stage to fix the issue.

Later, Hjelvik is taking a sip from an audience member’s beer, before instructing him to hold onto his microphone and once more launching himself head first into the throng of people.

There isn’t much vocal interaction with the crowd but there doesn’t need to be.

Kverlertak’s passion and energy is enough to whip a very appreciative Manchester crowd into an absolute frenzy.

Closing their encore with Mjød and Utrydd dei Svake, band members Vidar Landa, Bjarte Lund Rolland and Maciek Ofstad and Marvin Nygaard stand on the stacks at the front of the stage wildly playing their instruments, before dragging numerous audience members onto the stage to enjoy the moment with them.

It proves a fittingly crazy end to a wild show.

Support acts Empress and Wounds combine to make this one of the more eclectically brilliant metal gigs of the year.

Wounds open the show as the audience are filtering in.

Although they appear to have consumed all of the alcohol in Manchester before they hit the stage, it doesn’t prevent the hardcore punks from turning in a brilliantly raw half hour set.

From the outset, it is clear why the metal fraternity are already so high on the Irish four-piece.

Few bands this young have their energy, confidence and swagger.

Empress are a different beast entirely. A slow, echoing guitar riff soon gives way to in-your-face heaviness and a furious on-stage energy. While Wounds’ work is like a relentless kick in the throat, Empress can move from acoustic to aggressive in a single moment.

There is a lot of Opeth and Mastodon influence in the Reading four-piece’s work and though Prog Metal may not be the best fit for this crowd, there is no denying that this is a supremely talented band.

In a small, sweaty room on the top floor of the Manchester University Students Union, Kvelertak, Empress and Wounds come together to deliver one of the most entertaining metal gigs of 2014.

On this evidence, all three should be graduating to larger venues when they return to the city.

Image courtesy of Roadrunner Records, via YouTube, with thanks.