Kvelertak / Torche / Wild Throne

Opera House, Toronto ON, April 20

Photo: Rick Clifford

BY Natalie Zina WalschotsPublished Apr 21, 2016

Despite the fact that the crowd was still sparse at the Opera House when they took the stage, Wild Throne put on a vibrant and high-energy set. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Wild Throne don't sound anything like the shivering, Cascadian black metal of many of their compatriots. They're a high-energy blend of proggy NWOBHM and surprisingly melodic thrash; their closest aural allegory is fellow Washington metal heads Christian Mistress. Their set was quick and blistering, taking advantage of their limited time onstage to showcase both the bright nimbleness of their guitars and the strength and clarity of Joshua Holand's vocals. While they might come from a place of lush dampness, their music recalls a lot of sweet, hot sunshine.
Florida weightmongers Torche played a weird set. Their aesthetic is strange for a sludge band to begin with, their tones soaked in heat and light instead of layers of filth. Their sludgy sound conjures melting asphalt in a record-breaking summer city heat wave, a kind of interminable warmth that can be both panicking and paralyzingly indolent. They chose the latter for the guiding tone of their set, and the kind of hazy, muted aural palette they employed was both easy to get lost in, and also kind of same-y. There were moments when the blazing, overwhelming wall of aural heat they were generating worked extremely well, but it was hard to effectively maintain that confusion over an hour-long set.
You can't say that Norwegian mad scientists Kvelertak don't know a thing or two about showmanship. Surrounding by the hectic and towering chords of a new song (presuming off their forthcoming record, due to be released May 13), frontman Erlend Hjelvik took the stage wearing a demonic, glowing owl mask over his head and shoulders. He quickly abandoned the costume, performing most of the set bare-chested, but there remained something animalistic and otherworldly to the way he stalked and growled around the stage, trailing spit and sweat.
The set was peppered with new material, which happily sounds as deliciously weird as their self-titled debut and sophomore effort Meir. "Berserkr" had particularly intense, bestial violence to it when performed live, and "Fossegrim" had a monstrous, stomping complexity. For all their dense, layered technique, Kvelertak are a relentlessly fun band, and this giddy violence came across spectacularly live.


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