Metallica and Kvelertak at O2 Arena, London - live review

Metal megaweights hit top form again

Art for Metallica and Kvelertak live at O2 Arena, London

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Metallica have beenon blazing form recently, last year’s Hardwired… To Self-Destruct evidently lighting a fresh fire under the metal megaweights. A blistering set of intimate album release shows at the tail-end of 2016 was followed by a voraciously received stadium run in the States, and now it’s time for the UK to get themselves a fresh piece. First, though, it’s time for KVELERTAk [7] to attempt to translate their black’n’roll racket to reach 20,000 people. An exceptional live band they may be, but sweaty Camden clubs are a long way from playing slap-bang in the middle of London’s biggest arena on Metallica’s revamped ‘in the round’ stage. It’s testament to the Norwegians that they go down well on the big stage, even if their sound is understandably muddied at points.

As METALLICA [9] stride on to launch into the first two tracks from their latest album, two things are instantly clear: a) they’re still on an absolute tear and b) the new material sounds fucking killer. That theme continues throughout the show, too; Now That SOFTWAREmark” gingersoftwareuiphraseguid=“71679ad5-35b0-484f-8f49-46e71dad7dde” id=“aea3c7ec-5fd3-401d-82fd-7d06de621534”>We’re Dead, Halo On Fire, Moth Into Flame and Spit Out The Bone (getting a live debut today) all sound immense and like they could stick around Metallica setlists for years to come. The stage show itself is also a breath of fresh air – seemingly taking a small page out of Avenged’s recent Cirque du Soleil-inspired set with a whole bunch of added tidbits. Giant, moving cubes suspended high in the air are smothered in gorgeous visuals all night, servings as 80s TV screens one minute and hellish projections the next, even lowering down to the stage itself at one point for a fun, four-man drum-off during Now That SOFTWAREmark” gingersoftwareuiphraseguid=“a20c5fb1-7588-4d05-b75f-a41cd1fb42a2” id=“cdf6885a-72c1-49ad-8385-803f9b9c8b7f”>We’re Dead. There’s also a small but noticeable return of pyro – absent from Metallica sets in recent years – as flames pepper the stage during Halo SOFTWAREmark” gingersoftwareuiphraseguid=“ac1b2491-1eae-4264-a4bf-c41d9f65fc68” id=“e443d62c-0dc6-49be-bbfc-c5f53e433e3b”>On Fire. And then there’s those damn drones. Lit up and flying around in formation during Moth Into Flame like dozens of tiny fireflies (or moths, we suppose…), they produce one of the most mesmerising spectacles this arena has seen for a song that already feels like an all-time-great Metallica jam. A smattering of the usual classics plus some welcome rarities in the shape of Leper Messiah and Misfits cover Last Caress make sure all the boxes are ticked set-wise, too, leaving little room for any nitpicking, whatever era you’re from. Job done and then some. Now get that stadium show over here next, please.

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.