Norway’s Kvelertak ripped through Johnny Brenda’s Sunday evening with Skeletonwitch, Zoroaster, and Population Zero for one of the year’s best 21+ shows. South Philly’s Population Zero got things rolling with their patended blend of street punk and metal for a cluster of faithful followers who opened up the floor early. Population Zero recently signed to Creep Records and are riding off the success of a recent spat of great local shows, including a feature at Riot Fest East alongside some of punk rock’s most legendary bands. We’ll have more on them in the near future.
Atlanta’s psychedelic doom metalers, Zoroaster kept things moving with a crushing set in support of their latest full-length, Matador, which hit streets in July via E1 Records. I must admit, most doom metal puts me to sleep, but this quartet is an exception in a major way. Zoroaster mix in enough earth-shaking rock n’ roll and metal that the “doom” aspects of the band work as nice segues, rather than being the crux of their performance. The music transitions well and built enough tension to keep everyone in the room engaged. This is definitely a four-piece to keep an eye on as we head into 2012.
Skeletonwitch brought the thunder. No two-ways about it. This five-piece metal entourage have become seasoned veterans who mixed up their set with classics and new songs alike. The crowd erupted into one of the most energetic 21+ performances I’ve seen in recent memory from opening note to final chord. Everything was on point for Skeletonwitch who are currently touring in support of their latest release on Prosthetic Records, Forever Abomination, which hit streets earlier this month and has seen a groundswell of buzz from fans and critics alike. I would not at all be surprised to see Skeletonwitch sore up the rankings with some of the most prominent metal bands in the world in the coming year. Great set, full or energy, and everyone at Johnny Brendas had huge smiles as they tore through crushing song after crushing song.
Norway was in the house. Like woah. Kvelertak took a little extra time setting up, but as soon as they struck the opening chords, you knew why. Three guitarists, a bassist, drummer, and vocalist who embody everything a great punk rock show should be. It’s easy to see why this band has been garnering so much attention, both in the States and abroad with their debut, self-titled LP on Indie Recordings. Everything about their set says “F-U-N.” The guitar work is denser than sea shit and doesn’t loose one ioda of clarity through a wall of Orange heads and Marshall cabs. The moniker is absolutely true, “brutally catchy punkrock/metal with a taste of groovy darkness!” These boys played well into the wee hours of the morning for a raucous crowd, who all but forgot about having to get up for work just a few hours later. Philadelphians undoubtedly had bangovers and beer buzzes heading into work monday morning, but damn was it worth it. Bulletproof show.
Words and Pictures by Joshua T. Cohen.