Keep Of Kalessin / Vreid / Vredehammer

A triumvirate of extreme Norwegian metal

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Early autumn has been gig-heavy in the capital so it’s good to see a decent turn-out assembled as first band VREDEHAMMER [7] take the stage.

A convincing and accessible choice of opening act, their upbeat, hook-heavy and in-your-face metal is well suited to the stage and they prove to be quite a powerhouse tonight. Though it’s clear that few here are familiar with the material, the solid crowd response suggests that many soon will be. VREID [8] started life with a similarly linear approach, but a steady stream of albums has seen them evolve from a Motörhead-influenced black/thrash template to take on elements of folk, prog and, most recently, straight-up Norwegian black metal. It might have been expected that they’d become less effective live as their music became more complex, but integrating these various musical strains has only made them a more rounded and potent proposition. Tonight’s draws heavily from latest album Sólverv, and that’s no bad thing given that it is one of their strongest opuses to date. The only real complaint is a technical one, with the band’s lead guitarist Strom being all but inaudible until someone has a word with the soundman, his playing remaining fairly low in the mix even after that.

All things considered, KEEP OF KALESSIN [8] have had a curious career, having had a sort of ’black metal sex symbol’ status for a while and joining the likes of Dimmu for a time in the more mainstream end of things before returning in recent years to a more underground position. Perhaps because of all the hype and slick marketing surrounding them in the past, it’s easy to forget there are some pretty solid creations residing in their back catalogue and tonight’s appearance is a reminder of the group’s value.

Dense and tightly performed black/thrash metal with plenty of drama, some big choruses and melodic dynamics is the order of the day and, if anything, stripping down to a three-piece has made them a more gutsy proposition. With sturdy renditions of their furious compositions tonight, and a fine balance of experience and genuine enthusiasm, even sceptics seem won over.