Metallica + Kvelertak @ SSE Hydro, Glasgow

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Metallica + Kvelertak

@ SSE Hydro, Glasgow

October 26, 2017

Review by Pete Mutant

Photography by Gavin Lowrey

Metallica haven’t been back in Glasgow since 2009. Back then, there was no SSE Hydro and the venue was the Scottish Exhibition Centre otherwise known as the SECC. The two venues now stand across from each other with the Hydro towering high above, lighting the night sky with flourescent colours which can be seen from far away.

This night was a sell out with 13,000 fans gathering to get a blast from one of metal music’s biggest and greatest acts. Eight years seems like a long time but the band have taken their time with bringing out their highly anticipated return with Hard Wired…To Self-Destruct. With the album being in circulation for almost a year now, it had more than enough time to be ingrained into the minds of their legions of fans.

Metallica aren’t one dimensional and know how to create a spectacle of a show. With the support coming from Norwegian heavy weights Kvelertak, they had an intriguing backing to open proceedings. Kvelertak were a recent discovery for me but I was instantly drawn into their sound. They had the opportunity to open up the show and make an impression on the sold out crowd.

Kvelertak [4.0/5] took the stage and opened with ‘Åpenbaring’ from their sophomore album ‘Meir’. My vantage point was high and distant, the sound that was blaring through the speakers was not doing the band any justice. The band had a massive stage to cover. Three of the four corners were surrounded by the growing crowd as vocalist Erland Hjelvik patrolled around baring his eerie owl mask and screaming a torrent of harsh vocals.

There is a myriad of elements that goes into the band’s music. From upbeat rock rhythms to thundering switches to black metal fury the band pack a seismic punch when they hammer out the heavy. They traversed a wide spectrum of sounds as they blasted out tunes from their each of their three albums to date.

‘Mjød’ from their debut self-titled album was a major highlight as the set rolled on and ‘1985’ from their latest recorded effort ‘Nattesferd’. We got another dose of the newer stuff next with ‘Berserkr’ and the sextet group group firing on all cylinders.

The main issue was with the sound. It was generally increasing in quality as the set went on but it wasn’t to the highest of standards. The three guitarists were putting on a show with Bjarte Lund Rolland and Maciek Ofstad having a bit of a duel at one point, Les Paul to Les Paul as Vidar Landa carried his stunning flying V around the stage. The rhythm section in bassist Marvin Nygaard and the highly impressive drummer Kjetil Gjermundrød kept the music in check.

After ‘Blodtørst’, Erland asked if we we were all ready for Metallica before announcing that their set had two songs to go. They went full on tonto mode with the penultimate track ‘Månelyst’ a song that brought a fine blend of melodies which built to create a wall of noise before the solo broke and the brash tempo accelarated beautifully. They ended their set with the hyper anthemic power pop track ‘Kvelertak’ and went out on a high. Bodies were still trickling through as some charged forward to get close up for the main event. It was also time for myself to get closer.

1. Åpenbaring
2. Bruane Brenn
3. Mjød
4. 1985
5. Berserker
6. Evig Vandrar
7. Ulvetid
8. Blodtørst
9. Månelyst
10. Kvelertak

Metallica [5/5] were ready, the crowd were ready and I was ready as the atmosphere swirled with excitement for what was to come. ‘The Ecstasy Of Gold’ led the charge as the atmosphere electrified. Voices screamed in unison as the thrash titans took the massive stage. Screen cubes were dropping and rising from the ceiling as Metallica tore into ‘Hard Wired…To Self-Destruct’. The crowd was densely packed and there was plenty of movement about. James Hetfield was forcing the issue that “we’re all fucked, shit out of luck” but we were all in luck tonight. Metallica were wired in and the music was flowing.

It wasn’t long until we went back to some old stuff; their oldest stuff as ‘Seek And Destroy’ sent the fans into golden fits of ecstasy. The tone was clear, the notes and chords were precise and we were being treated to some nice fills provided by Kirk ‘wah stomper’ Hammett. His leadwork was bang on as well. He was going through guitars changing on nearly every track. ‘Harvester Of Sorrow’ came next and I was fairly chuffed as was everybody else. Lars provided the rolling rhythm as the song drove everyone crazy. There was an incredible, cacophonic noise coming from this sizable crowd and Metallica were giving us all the fuel to the fire.

We got a decent mix of older and newer stuff. It was understandable that most got more excited with the older, more memorable tunes. ‘Sanitarium’ seen the band bringing out the class as Metallica briefly left the stage and Lars brought us into ‘Now That We’re Dead’ with that clacky double bass intro. Next it was Trujillo’s turn to take charge as he  sent us all mental with some impressive bass lead and ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ marched on. Trujillo again took the spotlight with a thrilling rendition of ‘Amnesia, Pulling Teeth’ paying homage to the late great Cliff Burton. With the added imagery from the dropping screens, it was turning into a spectacle.

The stage show was a feast for the senses. The most impressive feat was the use of drones with torches lit swirling and flying above the stage as ‘Moth Into The Flame’ was getting backed up by this most amazing display. I have never seen anything like it and the thought and detail that went into this was in itself justifiable to attract a sell out crowd. So, so awesome. ‘Sad But True’ followed then it was time for ‘One’. The sounds of battle rang to compliment the harrowing melody that came from James and Kirk. They are such a proficient and professional act and the sound was fantastic.

‘Master Of Puppets’ took us to a brief intermission before the encore began. It was time for some pitting and it didn’t take long to find one. ‘Spit Out The Bone’ brought the band back on and the crowd knew that the set was ending soon and there was a ton of energy being expelled by the fans. ‘Nothing Else Matters’ was, again, executed perfectly before the set was brought to an end with ‘Enter Sandman’. It was a cracking set with some memorable moments that will stick with me until I’m an old and destitute being. They are oh so tight and there is so much love for this band. Even the haters would have been impressed. Metallica are an incredible band that owe all their success to themselves. It will be hard to top a performance and show like that, it may be nearly a decade again until they can up with something to top that… and I’ll be waiting.

The Ecstasy of Gold (tape)
1. Hardwired… To Self-Destruct
2. Atlas, Rise!
3. Seek & Destroy
4. Harvester of Sorrow
5. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
6. Now That We’re Dead
7. For Whom the Bell Tolls
8. Halo on Fire
9. Blitzkrieg
10. The Memory Remains
11. Moth Into Flame
12. Sad but True
13. One
14. Master of Puppets
15. Spit Out The Bone
16. Nothing Else Matters
17. Enter Sandman

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