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4.5 out of 5 skulls
April 5, 2011 | ,

Kvelertak Kvelertak

So, all your friends have this thing — it doesn’t make a difference what it is, but it’s the newest in new and everyone is clamoring for it. They constantly rave and drool over it, but you just don’t see what’s so great about it. Hell, even your parents have mentioned this thing in passing, but you just shrug and walk off to do whatever it is that you do. Then finally, your indifference is tested as they all let you play with it, and the more you handle this thing, the more you use it, the more you begin to love it until at some point you’re as much a disciple as they are. You can’t get enough of it. You’re hooked.

That, in a nutshell, has been my experience with Norway’s Kvelertak. I had listened to the band’s self-title, debut effort a couple of times and initially wrote them off as an over-seas, blackened version of Every Time I Die (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing nor is it at all accurate). It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth listen that I found myself really getting caught up in their everything-AND-the-kitchen-sink approach to metal — black metal, death metal, punk, blues, rock… it’s all here. Each track is a party, complete with the atmosphere of a raucous basement show that has kids jumping over one another to shout along with the band on every chorus.

Kvelertak carries itself with a swagger not that dissimilar to Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction. Obviously, the two albums have absolutely nothing in common musically, but they both have that air of confidence, that feeling that anything could pop off at any time. Listening to the 11 studio tracks (as well as the BBC sessions and demo tracks added to this disc) you get the impression that something epic could develop instantly at any second. Whether it’s through the band’s enigmatic front-man Erlend Hjelvik’s aggressive, gruff vocal delivery or the groove fueled Motorhead-esque rock n’ roll, these guys know how to lay down some of the catchiest shit I’ve heard in a long while.

The album gets off to a rabid start with a manic blend of black metal, punk and rock in the form of “Ulvetid,” a quick hitting song that will leave you breathless and itching for more. With lyrics written in Norwegian, you’ll probably not understand a word of what is shouted, screamed or growled, and this only adds to the band’s aura. My favorite track on the album, “Mjød” slows things down a bit, injecting a catchier than fucking hell groove and infectious vibe. The group vocals that counter Hjelvik’s screamed delivery is both bizarre and oddly perfect. I bet these mother fuckers kill it on stage with this song.

“Fossegrim” carries the raw, aggressive vibe from the opening pair of tracks, but also adds a bluesy, 70’s era guitar rock influence to it. It sounds like a strange fit, but the guys manage to make it work very well. As the album progresses you begin to hear more and more elements of various genres ooze into the band’s sound. Death metal, garage rock, punk and more all come together into a singularly cohesive entity that not many bands can pull off yet these boisterous bastards have crafted a sound that can be described as nothing other than their own. Songs like “Offernatt,” “Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer),” and “Nekroskop” are all prime examples of the band’s unique delivery.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t really dig Kvelertak the first couple of times I half-heartedly listened to it. It took some time to grow on me, and now that it has, I can’t get enough of this band’s blend of all things metal. I’ve used the word “raucous” a couple of times in this review, but it’s the one word that I keep coming back to when I think of this band. The groove, the flow, the very essence of this album is over-the-top like a house party that now has eight or night local law enforcement vehicles pulling up to the front door. You certainly don’t want to get busted, but you can’t just up and leave a party like this.

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