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Slayer / Anthrax / Kvelertak

Live Review

Venue: Brixton Academy, London

Thrash icons keep their fires burning

Tonight, we are dealing with proper metal icons. Kerry King and Scott Ian, whose immediately identifiable silhouettes are admittedly similar these days, have passed into legend.

These two provoke happiness on sight, even before they crank out a skyscraper-crushing riff. And what Tom Araya might now lack in headbang mobility these days he more than makes up for with his enduringly thunderous voice and close resemblance to a chilling cult leader. When such icons share one venue, Xmas comes early. 

Bare-chested KVELERTAK [6] frontman Erlend Hjelvik arrives wearing a huge stuffed owl on his head, with glowing red eyes. While these Norwegians ripple with conviction and attitude, they’re weirdly moving away from what made them really interesting: gene-splicing rock’n’roll with black metal. Tonight, it’s either admirably honest or a terrible mistake for them to downplay their more obvious black metal elements. Throw in a bassy, indistinct sound mix, and they probably strike most newcomers as a straight rock band, earning a muted response.

“Do you like thrash metal?” yells Scott Ian halfway through ANTHRAX’s** [8]** set. “I’m gonna be presumptuous and say you’ll like this one,” and the band blast out the riotous Evil Twin, from their splendid forthcoming album, For All Kings. While this is wisely the only new song they air, it’s amidst a slightly curious choice of songs. Three cover versions in a support slot, even if Antisocial and an unexpected March Of The SOD are obviously great? Still, it’s impossible to begrudge a performance bookended by Among The Living tracks. The opening Caught In A Mosh gets sacrificed to the sound gods – the volume is unimposing for the whole set’s first half, before receiving a welcome boost – but is of course a stormer. And no one’s going to argue with the closing duo of Indians, complete with one of Metal’s Finest Ever Riffs in its breakdown section, and Among The Living itself, which is a contender for Metal’s Chuggiest Song Ever. Heartwarming onstage banners depicting Ronnie James Dio and Dimebag Darrell only add to the sense that tonight is about celebrating metal gods.

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