Kvelertak / Black Tusk / Beards of Prey Annex Wreckroom, Toronto ON, May 22

Kvelertak / Black Tusk / Beards of PreyAnnex Wreckroom, Toronto ON, May 22
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
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Toronto rockers Beards of Prey started off the night playing to a relatively sparse audience at the Annex Wreckroom, but the booze-soaked, snarling vocals and and scabby riffs filled the vacant space. Their Southern-style, sticky-sweet rock sets them apart from the cool progressive and virulent hardcore that frequently comes out of the Toronto metal scene; their sound is most similar to Birmingham, Alabama's Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. Their lean, rickety set was full of blazing energy, and what they lack in finesse they make up for in enthusiasm. The ended their performance with a blistering cover of Alice in Chains "Would?" that got the rapidly-swelling crowd fully on board.

In addition to being a dormant stratovolcano in British Columbia, Black Tusk is also the name of the blackened sludge trio from Savannah, Georgia. Sunburnt and acrid, their set struck an excellent balance between thick, fat stoner riffs and thrashier, hardcore energy. The swamp metal group gave it their all at this show, the last night of the month-long tour they have been on with Kvelertak and Cancer Bats (though the latter left the tour after the May 20 date and did not perform the hometown show). They drew from all over their catalogue for their set list, the highlight of which was the furious, stomping energy of "Iron Giants" off their split EP with Dead Yet?

Playing in Toronto for the very first time, Norwegian warriors Kvelertak performed for a full, screaming house. The band, whose name translates to "stranglehold" has the rabid audience in their grasp the entire set, as the songs blazed and vocalist Erlend Hjelvik capered across the stage in a leather vest like a rapacious satyr. Their set drew heavily from their recently-released second record, the towering spitfire Meir, and the driving pace and power of the set brought these seething songs to terrible life. They imbued "Spring Fra Livet" with a wild, primordial energy, and their raging rendition of "Blodtørst" from their 2010 self-titled debut was a set highlight. Their patchwork and complex style, which draws on everything from hardcore punk and thrash to blackened hard rock and progressive, was a hit on Canadian soil, and hopefully these Norse wild men will return soon. To see Exclaim!'s Kvelertak photo gallery, head here.