Metallica

support Kvelertak
author MIN date 27/03/18 venue Jyske Bank Boxen, Herning, DEN

After the letdown that was the inauguration of Copenhagen’s new Royal Arena, I’m excited to see Metallica in hopefully better conditions this Tuesday night at Herning’s Jyske Bank Boxen – structurally Jylland’s slightly older equivalent to said Royal Arena. What I’m equally excited about, though, is tonight’s support band, the Stavanger, Norway-based retro rock hardcore six piece with a flair for black metal, Kvelertak. The band usually fare like no others in intimate settings, so it’ll be interesting to see them take on such a massive venue as this 15.000 capacity box, not to mention witnessing the regular Metallica fan’s reception of these Norsemen.

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest.

Kvelertak’s Erlend Hjelvik

Kvelertak

As scheduled, the lights around Metallica’s huge, centered stage start to dim just about 19:30 as the ominous sound effects alarming “Meir” album-opener “Åpenbaring” creep out of the speakers. Guitarist Vidar Landa takes the stage on his own and accompanies the effects by playing the initial riffs to the song just before the rest of the band joins him for an expectedly great opening, which, of cause, features vocalist Erlend Hjelvik wearing a massive stuffed owl as head garment. As is tradition for bands opening for headliners in such vast settings, the sound conditions Kvelertak are faced with aren’t doing the band’s performance any favors, but – from where I’m standing – they’re doing a great job at filling out every corner of the five-edged stage.

Granted, it’s much easier to occupy a stage like this when there are six members in your band, but the members in Kvelertak really manage to take advantage of it. Although each of them could suffice by occupying each their corner, the four axemen are great at roaming around – circling back and forth, clinging together to disband shortly after as an excuse to take on another part of the arena, thus managing to individually greet everyone around them – while delivering airtight rock n’ roll occasionally absolved by hardcore thrills and claustrophobic black metal. Although the music doesn’t quite contain that stranglehold the band’s name promises in this massive box (it sounds like the sound guy is unaware that there are actually three guitars in the mix), it still contains a menacing chill whenever these aforementioned outbursts of blackcore rains down on you, aptly gestured by Hjelvik’s alluring performance. When the set ends after 45 minutes of excellent material spanning from “1985” over “Ulvetid” and unto the self-titled “Kvelertak”, I’m sure that Kvelertak have managed to scare off just as many people as they’ve enticed – thankfully! To quote an evidently uninitiated Danish guy next to me: “De er jo sygt fede, man!”

Lars Ulrich

Metallica

After the obvious introduction featuring both AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll)” and Ennio Morricone’s “Ecstasy of Gold”, Metallica instantly conquers the stage, exhibiting the energy of younger men. With lightning fast and bulletproof deliveries of both “Hardwired” and “Atlas, Rise!” off the band’s latest album “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct”, every member of this legendary metal outfit quickly assure me that this is going to be a lot better than the last time I saw them, very much further emphasized by the impressive soundscape we’re provided with for the show. Much to my surprise, “Seek & Destroy” off the band’s debut album “Kill ‘Em All” is already up next, keeping the energy from the previous two songs, but, unfortunately, somewhere in the middle of the song, Metallica loses momentum. Between James Hetfield’s crowd interaction (what is Metallica without extended “hey, hey, hey”-excursions?) and the following “Holier Than Thou”, the savage energy showcased earlier seems to disappear from the show. Surely, it’s always a pleasure to hear “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” (accompanied by horrifying images on Metallica’s impressive stage-setup), but I can’t help but fear that we’ve already experienced the best part of the show during these first few songs.

James Hetfield

The thing with Metallica, no matter how groundbreaking and intense their old material, is that they’re the world’s largest metal band and thus have to cater to a certain audience, meaning everyone. I’m sure they enjoy performing like this – hell, they’ve done so for many years by now – and people in attendance are obviously eating it raw (the teenager right behind me is about to lose his mind), but sometimes it’s hard not to want the band to just deliver a straight-up, no thrills metal show, where the music is constantly the center of attention. The band – Hetfield, in particular – are charismatic individuals who know how to work a crowd, whether it’s hosting an extended Q&A with a teenager in the middle of the show (you know, in order to show their appreciation towards the younger members of “The Metallica Family”) or having Lars Ulrich translate yet another Danish phrase, but the moment you decide to have four massive, electronic squares elevated unto the stage via hidden platforms during the already boring “Now That We’re Dead”, just so you can all four pound on them simultaneously for no real purpose but the theatrics of it, you’ve gone too far. There, rant out. As for the rest of the show, Metallica still outdo everyone else simply by pure presence, mobility (looking at you, Robert Trujillo, you magnificent beast) and one hell of a setup, including a dozen drones circling the band during “Moth Into Flame” (get it?), an uncountable number of moveable screens and just in general amazing lights and stage production.

Robert Trujillo

Halfway through the set, Metallica decides to spice things up, and this is where things get interesting. The next three pieces feel like short interludes, but boy, do they work in the midst of a set that, by now, has consisted of mainly newer material: Trujilo nails the deceased Cliff Burton’s signature “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth” on his bass, Kirk Hammett and Trujillo deliver a surprisingly great cover of Gasolin’s classic “Rabalderstræde”, and in unison the band performs a fast yet heavy edition of the horror-punk band Misfits’ “Last Caress”. From here on out, it’s almost entirely classic Metallica delivered by usual standards: “Creeping Death” fares well and keeps the beer flowing, “One” is a concert-staple for a reason, and “Master of Puppets” gets the sing-alongs going. Great as all of these are, though, I’m slightly more interested once the encores arrive and the band perform “Spit Out the Bone”, which is arguably their best song in 25 years or so. All killer, no filler, the song is a seven-minute-classic that should remain for the remainder of the tour, magnificently getting horns in the air just before things wrap up with “Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman” that, not surprisingly, receives the best responses from the audience.

Kirk Hammett

Tonight, Metallica proved why they’re the biggest metal band in the world, for better and worse. To be this big, you have to be able to work an audience and put on an enormous show, which, unfortunately, may put less focus on what I believe is the most important thing: the music. It’s a constant dilemma, even when discussing things internally: what’s more important, the show or the music? Metallica are good at juggling the two, but it’s hard for them not to fall into one category more often than the other. Personally, I can’t help but long for something less extravagant. I’ll keep hoping ‘till the next time around.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Hardwired
  • 2. Atlas, Rise!
  • 3. Seek & Destroy
  • 4. Holier Than Thou
  • 5. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
  • 6. Now That We’re Dead
  • 7. Confusion
  • 8. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • 9. Halo on Fire
  • 10. (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth (Robert Trujillo solo)
  • 11. Rabalderstræde (Gasolin’ cover) featuring Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo
  • 12. Last Caress (Misfits cover)
  • 13. Creeping Death
  • 14. Moth Into Flame
  • 15. Sad But True
  • 16. One
  • 17. Master of Puppets

— Encore —

  • 18. Spit Out the Bone
  • 19. Nothing Else Matters
  • 20. Enter Sandman

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