July 6 at Roskilde Festival, Arena
On the third day of Roskilde Festival, the weather finally changed for the better and the attendees lazed about in the sunlight as they awaited the late evening appearance of the world's biggest metal band, Metallica, for what turned out to be a legendary concert. But in the hours leading up to the main event, those who were on hand at the Arena stage were treated to one of the most memorable concerts of this year's festival by Kvelertak.
Kvelertak, which is Norwegian for 'choke hold' are a rock band that perform an addictive amalgamation of black metal, with all the flash beats to get a neck sore, punk rock with plenty of crunchy three-chord progressions to inspire the air guitar, and a pure rock 'n' roll attitude.
Having performed an impressive December 2011 show at Lille Vega, the hype surrounding Kvelertak within the Danish metal community was enormous. I was commanded to see this show by a wide variety of sources, and I'm very glad I did. When Kvelertak walked on that stage, with the lead singer Erlend Hjelvik sporting an entire owl as a mask, I knew I was going to see something out of the ordinary. With two albums at their back, Kvelertak won over the crowd with bone-crushing tracks like 'Mjød' and 'Ulvetid', all sung in Norwegian and dealing with Vikings and Nordic gods.
Towards the end of the show, the temperatures rose to astronomic levels as Kvelertak inspired vicious moshing that churned the audience around in circle pits. The final number, 'Kvelertak', was the evening's highlight as the Norwegians decided to collectively stage dive, appearing like Nordic gods upon a sea of people. Hjelvik at one point was standing on the shoulders of the fans as he screamed out his lyrics.
The last time Roskilde had the pleasure of Kvelertak, the Norwegians performed to a much smaller crowd and it was beautiful to see how thrilled Kvelertak were to return and perform at Arena, arguably the best venue at Roskilde Festival. I simply could not find any missteps in their performance. The sound was immense, the visuals captivating and the energy level high at all times. Kvelertak performed with full-throttle rock 'n' roll in its most powerful manifestation. It was a seamless performance that garners full grades from me, I hope to see them again very soon.