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Upon entering Club Academy, the first thing I noticed was the absence of security and the lack of pit barrier. I found this really surprising due to the line up, but more on that later.

The opening band El Doom & The Born Electric came on stage earlier than originally listed, dressed like cowboys who were here on mean business. The crowd was fairly small and that slightly awkward atmosphere was hanging in the air due to them coming on stage slightly earlier than anticipated, this seemed to cause the band to “ease into” their set somewhat.I'd cottoned onto the bassist playing a Gibson Ripper bass which usually indicates things are going to get filthy, and seeing El Doom had 3 guitarists too, I braced myself for the assault that was to follow. There were no pauses for applause during their set, just continuous, almost hypnotic rhythms and riffs. As the set went on, they gained momentum and did very well to hold the attention of the growing crowd. There wasn't much spoken to the crowd from El Doom, but he did make up for it with a very generous offer nearer the end of the set: “Spend £10 at our merch table and I will sign any part of your body, ANY PART. But spend £50 and I'll sign the inside, THE INSIDE... of your pussy... with my dick" Much to the amusement of the Manc crowd. El doom then reached for his cowbell and proceeded with the final song of their set. I really enjoyed their set and they did a fantastic job of opening the night. Fantastic drumming on a monster of a drum kit, very technical and some complex time signatures were thrown into the mix which gave this band that “hypnotic” feel.

I've been listening to Truckfighters for a few years now but I've never had the chance to see them live, so I was very excited to see their name on the bill. I heard about them through Josh Homme. If your name's being batted about in those kind of circles then you must be doing something right. Their set lists were scrawled on paper dinner plates from back stage and they started their set with a guitar solo from Dango which pulled the crowd in close. Truckfighters smashed their way in to the set with “Desert Cruiser” off their 2009 album “Gravity X”. One of their most popular tracks and a real “statement” opener as if to tell the crowd to get strapped in for what was to follow. They did not disappoint live. Even though I already had a very high rating of them on record, I was pleased to see they can do the business on stage too. Bags full of stage presence and massive amounts of interactions with the ever growing crowd in Club Academy that night. Although Truckfighters are only a 3 piece band, they have a really huge sound live and they pushed Club Academy's PA system to the limit, the bass was so heavy that you could feel the walls shaking. They sound like they have 2 bass players and 5 guitarists. Unfortunately they played quite a short five song set. I'd have liked to see a bit more from them, hopefully I'll catch them at one of their headline shows soon. If you haven't heard of truck fighters, I suggest you go and look them up now as they are one of the best desert/stoner rock bands out there!

This was my first encounter of Kvelertak (pronounced “Kuh-vell-er-tack” which they helpfully include on their facebook page). I was told I was going to dig these guys as I'm a fan of Orange Goblin and Red Fang. Kvelertak are a band of Norwegian power stompers (as I'm calling them). Google informs me that “Kvelertak” is roughly translated from NorwegIan as "stranglehold". Which is pretty appropriate as that's what they had on the crowd tonight. Remember when I said I was surprised at the lack of pit barrier & security? Well... I spent the evening stood next to the only 2 pit security staff at the side of stage, who looked increasingly nervous as the crowd surged towards the stage before Kvelertak had even made it out of their dressing room. The Manchester crowd were well up for this and when the Norwegian 6 piece hit the stage at 100 mph, the pit went crazy. Security didn't know what to do – luckily Manchester moshers are dead friendly and look out for each other. nobody got hurt and the age old “If someone falls down, pick 'em back up” mentality was in strong force.

Kvelertak opened with “Spring” and looked as if they were very happy to be in Manchester that night. Frontman Erlend Hjelvik kicked screamed and shouted his way through some powerful tracks while decorating each song with prehistoric and percussive grunts that gave tonnes of power. There were stage dives a-plenty all though the set (by both the band & the crowd!) It almost had the feel of a house party instead of a gig, really great atmosphere. At one point Mervin (Bass) climbed his way into the crowd and stood aloft the pit being held up by the pit. A sight to be seen! Mervin also got involved with the finale of the set by heading over to stage left and inviting a member of the crowd on stage, then another, and another until before you knew there was a huge stage invasion by the crowd. This was the final nail in the coffin for security as they scrambled for their radios calling for backup but there was no stopping the Mancunian army of Kvelertak fans from having a great time. All in all, Kvelertak really are a top live band, The best way I can describe them is like this: If you're into anything heavier than foo fighters heaviest, then you're really going to like these guys. They take you from that point of the scale, all the way up to hardcore. If rock had a scale of course. If you get me? I don't know... Basically... You're not going to find a ballad on their album, you're going to find balls out rock and roll. I'm officially now a fan so check them out and judge for yourself. I've had the album on repeat since I got home from the gig and I can't wait for them to come and play Manchester again.

Review by Dan Woolfie - / Twitter: @danwoolfie
Photos by Andy Barnes

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