Coliseum / Bison B.C. / Kvelertak

17 November 2010

Camden Underworld, London


On paper it initially appeared to me that tonight’s bill was upside down.  Kvelertak may only have the one album out, but they should be headlining at this venue if not bigger next time they come through London.  Once again they didn’t disappoint with a whirlwind of a live performance.


I’ve said it in two previous reviews, but for our non-regular readers, take a bit of black metal of the Satyricon/Dark Throne variety and mix it with some dirty rock’n’rolla la Turbonegro/Hellacopters.  It shouldn’t work but Kvelertak are more than the sum of those parts.Often you can pick out in a song a guitar phrasing that’s cool, but in Kvelertak’s case, each song is jammed packed with such moments.  How they manage to recreate this live using three guitars without sounding muddy and with the chaotic onstage energy, whilst remaining tight, is some achievement.


Time is tight so the Norwegians simply rattle through their eight song set with little chat from maniac frontman Erlend Hjelvik.  The bare chested Hjelvik was drenched in sweat from his efforts.I can easily confirm this from the sweaty bear-hug I received having been in the right (or perhaps wrong) position in the crowd as he jostled his way past during Ordsmedar av rang (see photos!).


Kvelertak setlist:

Fossegrim / Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer) / Blodtørst / Offernatt / Ulvetid / Nekroskop / Ordsmedar av rang / Mjød


Kvelertak Kvelertak


If you like early Mastodon, High On Fire and Baroness, then Bison B.C. should be added to your list of bands to check out.  Ploughing a similarly heavy, and I mean heavy, furrow, the Canadians are light on subtlety and heavy on riffs.  During Die Of Devotion it felt like the PA was creaking under the thickness of Bison’s sound.


There’s an onstage symmetry about guitarists/vocalists James Farwell and Dan And.  Both look like cavemen, with masses of hair and lengthy beards and I honestly wasn’t sure which was which.  Between them, bassist Masa Anzai never seemed to stand still and from all the tape wrapped around his bass it was apparent his instruments as well as our eardrums were in for a battering.


Having given the band’s latest two albums Dark Ages and Quiet Earth some seriously play time in the lead up to this show, I was able to easily pick out the buried hooks in the likes of Take The Next Exit.  For newcomers to the band it may have been a bewildering experience, but those open to some powerful riffing should have gone away at the very least intrigued.


Bison B.C. setlist:

Two Day Booze / Die Of Devotion / Wendigo Part 1 (Quest For Fire) / Take The Next Exit / Stressed Elephant / These Are My Dress Clothes


Bison BC Bison BC


We’d gone from 3 guitars for Kvelertak, to two for Bison B.C. and finally the single guitar of Ryan Patterson with Coliseum.It was set to be a tough job to follow the preceding bands and initially one which I didn’t think Coliseum could achieve.


Colisuem’s most recent J. Robbins produced House With A Curse has had many of their fans bemoaning the passing of their d-beat style and taking on more “post-hardcore” influences.Perhaps this isn’t wholly surprising when you see Robbins’ name on the tin and the influence of that man’s former band Jawbox and elements of Fugazi could be heard in places.  I’d read they’d been playing the whole of that new album live at recent gigs, but tonight I think it was a very wise choice to mix things up with some of their faster earlier material.


Again chat is kept to a bare minimum with many of the songs running into the next one.  Patterson did note that Coliseum started as a punk band and will always be a punk band and it was noticeable that there was a change in the crowd at the front with long hair being replaced by a lot of people wearing flat caps and tartan.  Amusingly, whilst thanking the support acts Patterson joked that Kvelertak would be headlining the Reading Festival this year and poked fun at their frontman Erland Hjelvik side of the stage, suggesting he’d be lip-syncing on Top Of The Pops.  It was therefore obvious to the bands who is on the swiftest ascendency and true to say Kvelertak stole this show.


However, Coliseum did not disappoint and exceeded my expectations.  The band as a whole were incredibly tight, a trait not always aligned with punk, and with Patterson somewhat chained in situ by vocal duties, bassist Mike Pascal filled out the space on stage by never standing still.


Coliseum setlist (may be incomplete):

Blind In One Eye / Everything To Everyone / Crime & The City / Turn To Dust / Interceptor / Give Up & Drive / Skeleton Smile / Cloaked In Red / Lost In Groningen / Punk/Money / Year Of The Pig / Defeater / Set It Straight


Coliseum Coliseum