Kvelertak – Kvelertak

Band – Kvelertak
Album – Kvelertak
Label – Indie Recordings
Release date – June 2010
Sounds like – Superbly tight metallic punk rock + Hendrix + Thin Lizzy + Owls + Mead

Kvelertak are six dudes making debauched, raucous, filthy metallic rock ‘n roll, that staggers between the harsher side of black metal, to sludge, to hardcore punk, filtered through a Thin Lizzy spectrum of sleazy 70s rock. They also have 3 guitarists for total awesome overkill in the riffage stakes, meaning their sound is huge and a lot of fun.

Nearly all the songs on this self-titled debut are about Viking folklore or Norse mythology meaning that tracks such as ‘Mjod’ (‘Mead’) is the perfect sing-a-long of high-octane rock ‘n roll debauchery to head-bang to whilst quaffing large amounts of alcohol, jumping on someone’s shoulders and stroking each others beards. The opening track (‘Ulvetid‘) is a complete spazz-rock eccentricity of Dillinger riffs and grindcore drum fills, with vocalist Erlend Hjelvik roaring his guts out, whilst the scything guitar attack weaves between dense barriers to a twisting spiral of demented riffs. You can certainly tell they were tour mates with Converge. Despite the scrape of the vocals, they’re still cleaner than Jacob Bannon’s, yet at times seem fiercer and less screeching.

‘Fossegrim’ is a clumsy, yet brilliant mix of trashy guitar wails and rollicking drum patterns than fall over each other in a mad race to begin, whilst vocalist Hjelvik stalks the track, spitting his vocals in short spiteful outbursts; whilst the bizarre organ break fills me with hilarious joy as do the strained backing vocal cries when the track kicks back into it’s crushing assault.

‘Blodtorst’ (‘Blood Thirst’)wins the award for ‘best song with a 30 second 1 note piano solo’; something which raises the songs already ballsy coda from ‘supreme rocking’ to ‘head spasm attack’ fury. They even have time to fit in a bit of acoustic guitar strumming, which doesn’t sound shit in the slightest; whilst the other 2 guitarists wail on their axes like they’re channelling a lost Black Sabbath riff. This build spirals in and out, rising to a suitable cacophony before launching into the tracks final verse on the back of Hjelvik’s vicious echoing roar and a truly fantastic bit of soloing, which must have every listener reaching for the imaginary axe; brutally tight stoner-hardcore punk.

What makes ‘Sultans of Satan’ so ridiculous is the immediate hammer-to-the-face opening that then breaks with a harmonised chorus, which has this powerful warmth to it, whilst the drumming switches from a relentless pounding, to an almost dance-punk beat during the sudden time change. It’s the closest thing to a ‘pop’ track Kvelertak will ever write, yet it’s still sounds so heavy and so charged with these layers and I mean LAYERS of wonderful riffage. At the 2:20 mark, the guitars start to SING like dolphins. Then there’s some cowbell. Then it hits classic rock – then chugging hardcore, fist in the air chanting and even a “HUH!” before diving back into that harmonious hug of a chorus.

There’s a touch of Motorhead in ‘Nekroskop’ – particularly the way the guitars wail with whisky-soaked fire and the sense that the track is sneering down its nose at you through its gutter-like filth barrage. ‘Offernatt’ begins with shrieking nu-metal guitar twangs and throat-shredding roar, before slotting brutally into some churning, spiked metallic rock complete with a filthy, 70s-rock solo for good measure – think Boston playing metal. There isn’t one moment in this record where the guitar work isn’t fucking awesome – ‘Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer)’ for example; it’s absolutely fantastic; they howl, like wolves – no, like owls – owls hooting into a Fender that has been thrown through an amp.

‘Liktorn’ takes a different approach to start with; beginning as an immediate punch to the face of double-bass drum rattling, accompanied by vocalist Hjelvik screaming like an owl has latched on to his scrotum – it all goes pretty black metal to be honest. Melody is binned for pure scathing, “screaming-in-your-face-terror.” It then mellows out – well, as mellow as Kvelertak can go – so still furious; still grimy, still totally badass rocking with some nice harmonised gang vocals.

It’s difficult to describe just how good this record is, so I’m just going to end by saying look at the cover art – it’s got a fucking giant owl with tentacles coming out of its body, wrapped around saucy wood nymphs. Why haven’t you bought this yet? An outstanding debut album by the best band I’ve heard all year.


Kvelertak Official Site
Kvelertak Myspace
Indie Recordings

By Ross Macdonald

Lizard Hips

Junior Vice President of Keep It Fast. In other news: I work in social media, talk about dinosaurs, run a book club and have amazing facial hair. I am also a male man who is still not dead.

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