If you look at the world through rock-tinted glasses even a volcano in a far away land can seem a personal insult.

“God didn't want it to happen,” claims the editor of 'Metal Hammer' from the stage at the start of tonight's entertainment night. Referring to the Icelandic volcano that scuppered an April attempt at this same gig, he adds, “We won.”

Opening act Solstafir seem the God-defying part when they get things going, despite having a lead guitarist in Pjúddi Sæþórsson with a deeply un-metal laid back attitude.

“Is everyone sober and happy?” asks lead singer Addi Tryggvason. When the answer comes back negative, he adds, “I can see that.”

But Solstafir prove to be surprisingly mellow for a 'Metal Hammer' approved band. While generally adhering to a metal template they are capable of confounding, even at one point starting to sound vaguely like Sigur Ros. After this they launch into a lovely romantic ballad “for the ladies”, although we are perhaps meant to take that ironically. Later Tryggvason even displays self doubt, declaring plaintively “I don't know where to go”.

It's a far cry from what you might have expected from a band who declare themselves – in the words on their band t-shirts – to be “Antichristian, Icelandic, Heathan, Bastards”

Thunderstone are more to type. Although you would be within your rights to ask what sort of heavy metal band have a keyboard player. They adopt a more Iron Maiden-esque approach, singing about “skies red like the Devils' eyes” the “evil within” and there being “10,000 ways to die”.

It swiftly become a Timotei advert down in the front, with luxurious hair being thrown about with abandon. But even Thunderstone prove themselves to have a surprisingly mellow core. “Holding my heart. Never let me go. I'll standing by your side,” goes one of their songs. With a different backing track it could be a soppy R&B hit.

Eventually, for all their swagger, Thunderstone are remarkably un-threatening, albeit hugely entertaining. Well, un-threatening if you ignore the simulated buggery with a microphone, that is.

Kvelertak are a whole different scene. Their lead singer, Erlend Hjelvik, flags the coming change of tone by declaring early on, “Is everyone having a good time? Well now, we're going to have a bad time.”

With vocal chord shredding verses and shouted choruses backed up by three guitarists, Kvelertak push the night on to a gloriously abrasive new level.

A slightly more punk influence is evidenced by bassist Marvin Nygaard's Black Flag t-shirt and Hjelvik noting, “Welcome to Nordic metal night. [but] we don't play metal. We're a rock and roll band.”

Every band here in Islington was worth a listen, and when things are this entertaining, who cares what label you put on it.











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