Release Date: Mar 26, 2013
Record label: Roadrunner Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Just as music from Iceland will be forever will be forever compared to Björk or expected to be all spectral like Sigur Rós, so Norwegian bands are generally considered to have a penchant for church desecration and recreational murder. This presupposition tends to be applied to metal bands; after all Norway’s major export in recent years (other than oil, gas and fish) has been the fizzing lunacy of black metal, a scene so influential that it has almost been a barrier to discovering what else the country has to offer. Fortunately Kvelertak have broken through that particular obstacle, and in so doing they’ve become one of the metal success stories of recent years.
Review Summary: More everything.Known dubiously in some circles as "hipster-metal", Kvelertak draws from a broad palette of influences. Maybe this multifaceted approach lends to the chagrin of dedicated, sub-genre obsessed acolytes; the liberal infusion of hardcore and black metal with classicist hard rock riffing brings a much-needed injection of variation to some otherwise well entrenched genres. But no matter which direction they sway, the Norwegian six-piece does nothing but embrace the essence of fun-loving punk rock.
Norwegian blackened metal and hardcore punk band Kvelertak arrived with a bone-snapping din in 2010 with the release of their self-titled debut, which ultimately won them both Best Newcomer and Best Rock awards at the Norwegian Music Awards. A track from that record, the crushing "Mjød," appeared in the Norwegian dark fantasy/found footage film Trollhunter. With Meir, they push their existing and wildly successful technique of juxtaposing various styles deftly and seemingly effortlessly to its logical conclusion, backed by the ridiculous production values (courtesy of Converge's Kurt Ballou) that major label support can buy.
A couple of years ago, Revolver reviewed the self-titled debut by Norway’s Kvelertak for this website and gave it a rather average rating; our feeling was that the album’s brand of muscle rock-cum-black metal was overhyped and needed discipline. Over time, though, the rambunctious tone of the record grew on us, leaving us, like many, interested in what the band would do next. And on Kvelertak’s much-awaited sophomore album, Meir, the band has spun off in many fascinating new directions.
At their best, Kvelertak register as 40-plus years of aggressive-rock history crammed into one filler-free highlight reel. Frontman Erlend Hjelvik screeched exclusively in his native tongue on the Norwegian sextet's self-titled 2010 debut, but the album spoke a universal riff language. Kvelertak's gambit was to smash the barriers subdividing the metal pantheon, so that the nimble six-string grandstanding of Thin Lizzy and cartoonish machismo of AC/DC could mingle with black metal's tortured yowls and headlong blastbeats, and commune with hardcore's bottomless vitriol.
"Dude, what the hell, are you just listening to noise?" Those were the words spoken by my Taylor Swift and Ke$ha loving roommate as he walked in the door to find me listening to the closing strains of Kvelertak's nearly nine-minute epic "Tordenbrak" from their sophomore effort Meir. He wasn't entirely wrong. "Kvelertak" is Norwegian for "chokehold" and it's a pretty accurate descriptor of the group's sound.
On their second album Meir (simply, "More"), Stavanger six-piece Kvelertak haven't exactly refined the kitchen sink formula that made their eponymous 2010 debut one of the most welcome surprises of recent years; rather, they've bottled it, destroyed the recipe and knocked back gallons of the stuff like Vikings at a post-pillage feast. The Norse wild-men have thrown together a whole bunch of influences - some heavy, some not so much - that really shouldn't gel as well as they end up doing here and magically turned them into brain-meltingly brilliant hard rock party anthems. There are probably a dozen metal sub-genres represented in some capacity over the course of Meir's fifty minutes, and whilst you might expect black metal and stoner rock, or folk metal and hardcore punk to coexist about as happily as hungry dogs squabbling over a dropped steak sandwich, they actually end up playing very nicely together.
Kvelertak’s self-titled debut garnered no shortage of buzz among metal fans. Death metal shrieks, crunchy grunge riffs, drum beats capable of bringing even the most seasoned mosh-pitters to their knees: Kvelertak absorbed all the best parts of metal’s many sub-genres and re-envisioned them in what can best be described as the Hives’ cousin from hell, by way of Venom and every Scandinavian black metal band you never heard. It was a heavy sound, no doubt, but still very hummable—the stuff of standards like Living Colour and even AC/DC.
Eleven tracks of heavy metal excellence from the celebrated Norwegian sextet. Raziq Rauf 2013 It's been almost three years since Stavanger sextet Kvelertak burst onto the scene with their eponymous debut album, presenting a sound fusing so many different heavy elements together that everyone within earshot had to sit up and take notice. The lyrics accompanying their black metal-inspired hardcore rock'n'roll were all in Norwegian – but listeners were assured that Erlend Hjelvik was telling us tales inspired by Norse mythology and Viking folklore.