Ja Ja Ja
Kvelertak / Thunderstone / Sólstafir
16 September 2010
The Lexington, London
Having been blown away by Kvelertak on the Sunday at Sonisphere, we were delighted to discover the Norwegians were soon to be back in England.Better still for Johan, the evening celebrated the Nordic region – though he had let it go that on this occasion that there were no Swedish bands!
The evening was Ja Ja Ja, an event at the Lexington in London, championing Nordic bands of various styles.The April show was scheduled to be a metal night, curated by Metal Hammer’s Alexander Milas, however the erupting Icelandic volcano caused a cancellation which was finally rectified tonight.
First up were Iceland’s Sólstafir who’s last two albums, Köld and Masterpiece Of Biterness, are excellent expressions of gloomy atmospherics.Whilst there is a black metal background to Sólstafir they’ve moved a long way and on some of their instrumental pieces sound more like Fields Of The Nephilim than the current line-up of Fields Of The Nephilim.That influence spilled over a little into their look, with guitarist Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson just missing a dust of flour to make him look like a member of the Nephs.
Bloodsoaked Velvet was an intriguing choice of opener. The schizophrenic song struggled through initial sound mix problems and was met with abject silence at its conclusion, leading frontman Aðalbjörn Tryggvason to sarcastically ask the crowd to be quiet while he tuned his guitar. Pale Rider, described by Tryggvason as a “lovely romantic ballad”, was far more digestible as the sound improved.
With only 30 minutes Sólstafir were only able to squeeze in three songs with Köld closing the set. Tryggvason joked he was counting on us to sing along and whilst it would have been a challenge to join in with his pained vocal in his native language, it was the song that got the best reaction of the set.
Bloodsoaked Velvet / Pale Rider / Köld
On paper, Thunderstone were an odd fit between the other bands on this bill but their inclusion made for an intriguing mix of styles.Whilst Thunderstone’s origins were in a more traditional melodic power metal style, they’ve taken on more progressive metal influences and last year’s Dirt Metal is a meaty recording where new vocalist Rick Altzi carries a weighty presence.
In contrast to Sólstafir’s more moody presence, Thunderstone seemed like they were here to party and had the crowd chanting “hey hey hey” as Dirt Metal opened the set. Noting the short set time, Altzi comically looked at guitarist Nino Laurenne and said “We don’t have time to tune guitars”. Not that it mattered, as Laurenne was barely audible for much of the set with Jukka Karinen’s keyboards dominating.
I Almighty was a highlight of the set, with Laurenne amusingly acting along to the words where the chorus is broken down. Altzi noted the band’s disappointment at the cancellation of the show in April and that they were delighted they finally made it. It was then time to get Swirled as the pace picked up and Laurenne’s guitar finally cut through the mix.Until We Touch The Burning Sun closed an enjoyable set from the Finns.
Dirt Metal / Blood That I Bleed / 10,000 Ways / I Almighty / Swirled / Until We Touch The Burning Sun
Similar to Sonisphere, I’d been talking Kvelertak up again and was hoping I wouldn’t end up with egg on my face. No need to worry though as Kvelertak destroyed The Lexington and my friends who hadn’t seen them before are raving about them as I write this review.
Maybe it was the benefit of having three guitarists but the earlier sound problems were long forgotten as Kvelertak ably recreated their recorded work. Quite how they manage to sound so tight is particularly impressive when you watch them bouncing around and, at times, on and off the stage. The little DJ booth up to the left of the stage obviously also looked an interesting place to explore, with singer Erlend Hjelvik disappearing up there during Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer).
It was with alarm that following Utrydd dei Svake I noticed Kvelertak’s 30 minutes were pretty much up as they departed the stage. However, I wasn’t the only one sorry to see them leaving and a spirited chant of the band’s name ensured we got a much deserved encore of Nekroskop.
Like Dark Throne jamming with The Hellacopters, Kvelertak break the mould with their inventive sound and with live shows as chaotically fun as this, the buzz is only going to get louder.
Fossegrim / Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer) / Blodtørst / Offernatt / Ulvetid / Mjød / Utrydd dei Svake / Nekroskop