Kvelertak
Kvelertak

To me, The End Record’s roster has gone downhill quicker and more noticeably than any label in recent memory. Back in the ’90s and early ’00s, they were releasing game changing albums by bands like Arcturus, Epoch of Unlight, Agalloch, Love History, Antimatter, Scholomance, Sculptured and such. Now with a few exceptions (These Are They, Sigh, Novembers Doom, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Hull) the roster is pimping the likes of Tub Ring, The Answer, The Candles, Oomph!, The Lemonheads and even actress Juliette Lewis. It’s a good thing they can license a fucking killer, year old album released on Norway’s Indie Recordings and get some semblance of credibility back.

Meaning ‘stranglehold’, six piece (including three guitarists) Kvelertak are a black metal/punk rock’n’roll act — with the emphasis on the rock and roll. Now, I, like many of you, when you hear black metal and punk rock in the same sentence, tend to envision grimy, denim and spikes clad misanthropes singing about Satan and beer. However with Kvelertak, the band’s rock side is a much catchier, groovier and downright catchy, tangible nod to the likes of Turbonegro, The Cult, Zodiac Mindwarp, and Motörhead. While some may try to force a modern Satyricon comparison, which is partially valid, this stuff is genuinely memorable, full of hooks and definitely not forced. Throw in some ’70s haze, typically Norwegian black metal vocals and tremolo picked blasts here and there, and you have a recipe for a band that looks to become a real legend.

In theory, the mix isn’t something I would typically enjoy, but once I hit play and the opening strains of “Ulvetid”, which in its first two minutes delivers a stomping groove and early Ulver-ish blistering black metal explosion, I’m hooked. In fact, the album’s first five cuts alone, make Kvelertak a pure joy; slick groove (complete with tambourines and claps) and chorus of “Mjød”, ’70s/The Doors injection of “Fossegrim”, gang chants that start rollicking “Blodtorst” complete with vigorous piano closing and smooth lurch of “”Offernatt” make the album worthwhile alone. The later part of the album has the vast grooves and cowbell of “Sultans of Satan” and my favorite track, the closer “Utrydd dei Svake” which ends the actual album on a soaring, bluesy southern note that’s simply fucking righteous. I only wish I knew Norwegian so I could sing along to the addictive chorus. I swear to god, if your foot isn’t tapping or the headbanging at some point in the album, you might be tone deaf or dead. My only wish is that a little more snarling black metal, along the lines of “Ulvetid”, “Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer)” and “Liktorn”, had been injected to the otherwise enthralling setlist. Either way, Kvelertaks self-titled is an early contender for album of the year — even if it was originally released last year.

For the US re-release of the album the John Baizley cover art has been left intact, but you do get six bonus tracks; four  BBC session tracks and two demo tracks. Though all the tracks are redos, they sound a little grittier and raw than the album versions.

In all, Kvelertak has the makings of something special. And whenever I think metal has peaked or exhausted every note and riff, along comes bands like Kvelertak, Augury, Monsterworks, Ana Kefr, and Obscura who elevate the genre and prove that boundaries and limits are simply made to be shattered. Metal truly has no ceiling!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 22nd, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: noe,lvis txdm

    yes! you made my day, gonna jam Vondur til i get this one


  2. Commented by: Gabaghoul

    Fun stuff. Seems like you had a real good time w this one. And incredible cover art!!!


  3. Commented by: legumbrera

    I loved this album!! Excellent review.


  4. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    good band. heard them first on the Troll Hunter soundtrack. raaad.


  5. Commented by: Dimaension X

    Very good band and album. I’m really getting back into great groovy “punk”-esque music. This is the kind of stuff I’d like my own band to play.


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