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When I heard from Kvelertak, many people told they made a killer record, some kind of a mixture out of black metal and hardcore and rock'n'roll. I personally absolutely support the idea of mixing black metal and other genres (The Secret is a great example by the way), but what Kvelertak tried to do on this album is, in my opinion, bullshit.
At first, let's talk about the vocals. When I heard the first tone sang (gang shout (!?!?!): KVELERTAK), I doubted for the first that this band could write any catchy vocal line. Yes, sure black metal singers do sing very high, but this voice is just fucking annoying. You totally hear that this guy is highly influenced by modern hardcore bands. Black metal and punk is perfectly OK, but, sorry, black metal and hardcore? Sometimes they even try to sing in two voices and gang shouts, but sorry guys, this is neither cool nor atmospheric! Liktorn is the only song on this album, which I really like.
Next thing are the guitars. The best thing to say about the guitarists is that they don't suck as much as singer. These riffs are neither very really mean and punky nor really atmospheric nor really catchy nor really groovy. Example: A song starts with a pseudo dirty black metal riff, then immediately turns into a happy rock'n'roll riff and then becomes a sad punk rock/hardcore riff with a high guitar melody with two voices. Wtf?! Sometimes, when the singer is quiet, you think, there finally could be what everything loves about this record, but 30 seconds later it's the same old story. Some riffs really really sound nice and unique at the beginning, but later on they turn into bullshit. Fortunately this happens more often the longer the record plays, Liktorn for example is a pretty cool song.
Finally about the drums: this drummer plays technically absolutely OK, as far as I can say. But the blast beats often seem like somebody said: "Hey drummer boy, I think we need some blast beat in this one, we wanna write real brutal song right now". Fortunately there aren't that many blast beats on this record. Actually the drummer does quite a good job. At least he knows, what he fits right now and what doesn't. The drum sound fits quite well to the music they make (what doesn't mean it sucks). Summary: drums aren't to much and that makes it valuable.
Some people say this is "party" black metal (what is a contradiction in terms). I say this isn't black metal at all. There are a few black metal elements for sure, but this doesn't mean it's still black metal. I personally find this record neither revolutionary nor good, but annoying and mainstream.
Kvelertak (Norwegian for “stranglehold”, or “chokehold”) have quickly become one of my favourite new bands.
The band themselves would be among the first to admit they shamelessly draw inspiration from anything which fits their unique concept of heavy, catchier-than-chlamydia metal. As you would expect with the band being from Norway the black metal influence is definitely prominent in their sound, mainly through Hjelvik’s vocals and the occasional onslaught of tremolo picking, but Kvelertak are by no means a straight black metal band. They give nods to classic rock, punk, hardcore, heavy metal, southern rock, and more. While some critics may see this is a flaw and be adamant that “too many cooks spoil the broth”, I don’t agree. At least not in Kvelertak’s case anyway. In fact, I think the band have successfully mixed elements of all their influences seamlessly to create their own, very accessible sound. You might think, how do they manage to do it without sounding like a schizophrenic mess? Through nothing more than good song writing. Really, really good song writing.
The production deserves a mention too, as it certainly plays its part in the enjoyment of the album. While two of Kvelertak’s main influences are undoubtedly black metal and punk rock, they do not share their traditionally low production values. Kvelertak boasts very high production values and its intense build ups and lively breakdowns really benefit from this, culminating in powerful whirlwinds of rock which, at times, reach epic proportions. There’s a few nice little surprises in there to keep it interesting too, like clapping choruses, gang vocals, organs, piano, weighty drum fills and plenty of slick guitar licks.
The lyrics are in the band’s native tongue (as well as a little Swedish) and focus on Norse mythology and Viking folklore, yet more often than not I find myself phonetically singing along to the songs, regardless of what language they may be in. When I was initially getting into the album, time after time I'd notice myself becoming possessed and moving uncontrollably along to it. It’s an immensely energetic display of fist pounding, feet stomping, headbanging fun. The album ends on a real high note as well, with the final track playing out in Free Bird-esque amplitude.
If you’re a fan of fun “balls to the wall” rockin' metal then listen to this album, on full volume, and if it doesn’t get you excited, check your pulse. It rocks more than a quarry, I shit you not.
Also, if you happen to take a liking to it crave more of their infectious grooves, their demo, Westcoast Holocaust is basically in the same vein as the album, but rawer. So definitely check that out!
I had heard of Kvelertak for about a year or so before i picked this thing up. I have always been a fan of the more atmospheric and depressive grim as fuck forms of black metal. But I'll say that this was well worth finally getting. When I finally picked it up i got the 2 disc deluxe edition ($2 more for that one i figured what the hell) but the DVD that came with it is fucking Region 2. Meaning that my standard american player cannot play the fucking thing. What was Indie Recordings thinking releasing a North American exclusive with a DVD that Americans cant watch!?
This is black metal to fucking party to. Its infectious, addictive stuff: beyond catchy! Its like The Stooges and Darkthrone mixed together in equal parts and produced by Kurt Ballou. I wasnt sure about all the different elements they bring to the table working well before i heard the album in its entirety. Fear not friends, this shit is just fun as fuck. You absolutely have to have an open mind when coming at this thing. That cannot be stressed enough. I mean even Nachtmystium's 'Black Meddle' series is more in keeping with traditional black metal. Production is another thing that may throw other b/m purists off. This album is crystal fucking clean as production goes. Its still got its Kurt Ballou feel to it but this is the clearest level of production I have heard come out of GodCity Studio.
Simple riffs but done so well. Guitar work is really good but I really don't see why they have 3 guitarists. There isnt anything on this that 2 guitarists couldn't perform easily. On the note of riffs, I don't know if I'm the only one who thinks that some of these riffs could be a lost Rolling Stones song but they're like Keith Richards wrote some of this shit its so similar, not in a bad way per say but it is totally weird.
Vocals are fantastic. A nice disgusting raspy shriek. Kind of reminiscent of Thomas Lindberg. And all in Norwegian a nice touch. The guest vocal work is great too. Hoest of Taake and Ryan McKenny of Trap Them how sick is that!?
Drums are great this dude goes with all the stylistic changes seamlessly there is never a moment when listening to this album that you say to yourself "What the fuck is this asshole doing blastbeats here for".. you know what I mean. Drums in black metal as Fenriz put it "just have to be there". I couldn't agree with that statement more. and the drums here are just that.. here. Not flashy or whatever.
The only gripe I really have is that they could blacken this up a little more. Its really punk and very little black metal. The bits that are black metal are fucking awesome but there isn't anywhere enough. Maybe on the next one. I can't wait to see what happens with these guys. Although it would surprise me if they got ridiculously huge. I just can't stress how unbelievably fucking catchy this album is.
Just go get it but dont bother with the deluxe version.
Welcome to a new unjustified hype. Somebody told me about this new band from Norway on a forum as he had himself got the advice from somebody else to check this group out. I suggested the guy who introduced me to this band that we should sue his predecessor and underlined the fact that we would win the process by storm with some good attorneys. On a more serious note, let's say that this pseudo-avant-garde band with some weird but intriguing cover artworks is not at all as good as you might expect after hearing their concept.
They are the first band known to me that mix black metal with hard rock and a lot of punk influences to many short straight forward tracks. That's the first time that black metal sounds like alternative party music that could play in any underground rock club. Many songs are somewhat catchy due to their short length and quite repetitive structure. These guys know how to kick off a potential hype and a few underground hit singles. This ascertainment is at least quite original and I must give this point to the band. They are courageous and try out some new and fresh things.
But the positive analysis stops here. Black metal and punk rock just don't fit together as those guys would like to make us know. It's too superficial, short and straight forward for a black metal fan and too aggressive, dark and unholy for a simple punk rock maniac. For party music people, there are a lot of better bands to find in diverse genres that come especially from Scandinavia. Those who like noisy, dirty and straight rock and roll should still stick to Motörhead and Company after all these years. The discordant alternative sounds remind me of Muse or experimental Puddle Of Mudd and make the listening experience even weirder for me as this component fits even less with the rest than the strange composure I had to mention before.
In the end, imagine you Motörhead an early Ramones with some Finntroll sing along passages, blackened shrieks and alternative rock worship passages. While I like most of the mentioned bands quite a lot I don't like to see them put into one weird potpourri with a length of four or five minutes. Sometimes, too much feels like if it was just not enough. The boring and overlong "Nekroskop" and the overwhelming "Liktorn" is a great example for a song that mixes at least four or five genres into one song and even though there is a high amount of creativity the final result sounds like nothing concrete and goes nowhere. Too many cooks spoil the broth. I mean I like lasagne, souvlaki and king's crabs and I could create three excellent meals with those ingredients but I would surely not create a single one with those ingredients that would make any glimpse of a sense. The worst things on this record are probably the blackened vocals that remind me of Bullet For my Valentine, Trivium, Machine Head and other mallcore failures. Yes, it's that bad.
Apart of those descriptive facts, almost all songs sound similar and this record has a lack of surprising moments, innovating passages or a gripping atmosphere once you have listened to the first song that may still take you by surprise with its brand new style. The short tracks all sound the same and kick the album off in a rather disappointing way after all. Towards the middle of the record, some tracks show some variation and talent, especially the longer tracks as the album highlight and epic melodic party rocker "Sultans Of Satan" or the more experimental closing grower "Utrydd Dei Svake". I suggest you to try these two amazing experiments out but must warn you that they clearly consist of a minority on this mediocre record. Maybe one should download them and just skip the rest of the album.
I didn't get a good touch to this experiment even if I am generally favourable towards a mixture of genres, fresh ideas and some courageous innovation. The parts are better than the sum in here and the potpourri is just too acid for me and gives me bad headaches. The music surely works a lot better on stage and has some energizing moments and a better degree of continuity, coherence and atmosphere but most of the studio versions are so diversified that they sound superficial, overwhelming and inconsistent. But as the band tried out something new and has some potential and a few great moments, my final rating is not going to be too rude this time and I may keep an eye on those guys.
Okay, so Kvelertak’s debut was released in Europe by Indie Recordings last year, but the album didn’t make it stateside until recently (unless you were willing to pay an arm and a leg for the import) thanks to the fine folks at The End. I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive about this band due to the shitstorm of hype and my own admittedly absurd genre purity concerns regarding black metal (more on this later). What I’ve come to realize after repeated listens, is that Kvelertak flat out fucking rocks.
But is it enough for something to “rock”? For me, the answer is absolutely. On occasion, I’m completely okay with music that serves the sole purpose of making me want to drink excessively, headbang and break shit. That’s Kvelertak. The album is a catchier-than-herpes adrenalin rush that’s all too easy to get swept up in, once you let your bullshit guard down and ignore the hype machine. Even though I’m not fluent in Norwegian, these songs are getting stuck in my head and I find myself singing along phonetically. Saying that it is enough for a band to rock isn’t giving them a free pass or letting them off the hook. If rocking was easy, every band would do it. In 2011, there are fewer bands that know how to rock than ever before, making Kvelertak’s presence a much needed one in the metal scene.
Kvelertak take elements of black metal and mix ‘em up w/ rock, punk/hardcore and just a dash stoned southern swagger. As I stated earlier, I often take issue with bands cross-pollinating black metal w/ other genres (except death metal, thrash and whatever Darkthrone feels like mixing it with, of course), mainly because roughly 99.9% of the them do it in a way that isn’t even remotely listenable (the bulk of that black metal/shoegaze bullshit or the all the indie rock hipsters trying desperately and failing to rip off Weakling, for instance). Kvelertak only borrow the bare minimum from the black metal canon, mainly the raspy screams and the occasional tremolo riff. Since the band is Norwegian and the genre is inextricably ingrained in the country’s cultural identity at this point, I don’t have much of a problem with them picking the bones of black metal. Especially when it’s in service of the aforementioned rock. Kvelertak is most certainly a metal band, but their roots are clearly in hard rock; there are riffs on this album that sound like they could belong to Turbonegro (before they befriended Bam Margera and started sucking) or Monster Magnet. Like those bands, Kvelertak know how to bring the fucking thunder. Just check out “Mjod” and “Fossegrim” above and you’ll see/hear exactly what I’m talking about.
The domestic release of Kvelertak includes six bonus tracks in the form of demos and BBC sessions. While these additional tracks don’t add anything particularly revelatory to the listening experience, they are appropriately rough and raw, betraying Kvelertak’s punk/hardcore influences. The BBC tracks in particular crackle with an electricity that makes me wish I had been able to catch the band on one of their recent stateside dates (they played in San Francisco the day before I got there… story of my life, ugh).
In that last paragraph I mentioned electricity. That’s what Kvelertak are all about. A release of pent up energy through balls to the wall, metallic super-rock ’til you drop, not to mention a healthy dose of reckless abandon. If you’re still on the fence, I highly recommend picking up the album and giving them a chance. They made me a believer.
Originally written for http://thatshowkidsdie.com
I have no idea why this album is as good as it is. If someone told me there was a new band that mixed Turbonegro, black metal, classic rock and punk, I would have thought it would end up being one big schizophrenic pile of garbage. It just seems like too much to put into one band, especially considering they only have one album. Regardless, Kvelertak pull it off. In fact, they do more than pull it off; they make one damn good record.
Right away, Kvelertak's punk side is apparent, with their use of simple but effective power chords. The black metal is most apparent in the vocalist's frantic rasps. There are also some typical black metal tremolo riffs thrown in for good measure. Kvelertak molds a vast variety of influences into one unique style. I have not heard anything that sounds quite like Kvelertak before. It is rare to see a song that has both elements of both classic rock and black metal that is not just a gimmick.
Kvelertak has six members; all of them know what they are doing. The drummer pounds away with creative vision. Whether doing blast beats or standard rock and roll drumming, the man knows what he is doing. The rhythm guitarist plays many interesting classic rock and punk chord progressions. The lead guitarist is what makes this album really special. His leads are catchy and very hard to forget. They are very bluesy and would sound right at home on a classic rock record. On "Nekroskop", he shows that he is no hack when it comes to soloing.
Kvelertak is very eclectic, dissecting different genres and taking the good parts with them. For example, on "Sultans of Satan", there are both black metal rasps and shouted gang vocals, both tremolo riffs and a section reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix. The culmination of all of these influences is one hell of a fun record. This is definitely worth checking out.
Much has been said (by me and many others) about record labels trying to sign the next Mastodon. They find someone who sounds like Mastodon, package it up, and if possible they slap on some John Dyer Baizley cover art. The problem is, the "next Mastodon" isn't what they really want--they want the next band to make an impact. That band won't sound like anybody else; they'll be original. Indie Recordings may have found that band.
I picked this one up completely blind. I never heard of them, but the Baizley cover art caught my eye and the song titles were all in Norwegian--a big plus. After I listened to it, I was blown away.
I don't know whether they don't sound like anyone else, or if they sound like everyone else. This is an eclectic mix, the kind you can usually only find in Finland or a few small corners of the US. It's got strong influence from the bluesy prog-sludge of Baroness (very southern-sounding, too), but there's also a lot of black metal, hard rock, stoner metal, and even a smattering of thrash. And all of these influences are turned into something fun by going through a filter of hardcore punk attitude. Maybe they're the next Mastodon, but then again they could be the next Motörhead. (Or, possibly, Faith No More, but heavier.) Oh yeah, and all the lyrics are Norwegian.
This album should not exist. Music this punk-influenced shouldn't be progressive, but it is. Norsemen should not be able to play convincing melodies from the American South, but they do. And anything this eclectic should seem schizophrenic, but it doesn't. Everything blends seamlessly and beautifully together, held together by fantastic drumming and sheer force of will. It's catchy too, so album highlights like "Ulvetid", "Offernatt", and "Liktorn" go from tremolo picking to bluesy solos without any disconnect.
There are some gang vocals in here, but they actually don't detract from anything. I don't understand why they made their first video from "Mjød", though--it's a good enough song, but it's also the weakest (and punkest) one on the album.
The Verdict: Kvelertak are easily the frontrunners for debut of the year with their self-titled album. Imagine a mohawk-sporting Odin astride a mastodon, waving a Confederate flag. I just have one suggestion: play it with the volume at 11.
One caveat: I wish these guys all the best and want them to make many, many more albums in the future. On the other hand, I don't want them to make such an impact that they spawn a legion of imitators. There are so many things that could have gone wrong (but didn't) that anyone else trying it would likely be an unbearable mess.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
Norwegian six piece Kvelertak have to most people outside of their native land, come out of fucking nowhere in 2010 with a debut album that I for one did not expect. Normally the fusion of black metal and anything remotely like rock or punk ends in a car crash, Satyricon's Now, Diabolical for instance was pretty awful whilst The Age of Nero was passable. Nachtmystium's psychedelic inspired black metal has also been a hit and miss affair. So, I approach Kvelertak with some uncertainty and caution, if two veteran bands have trouble coming up with the right formula how then can a debut album from a band unknown be any good?
To be honest, from the opening salvo of Ulvetid mixing black metal rasping with punk rock guitars and blastbeats, I knew that finally someone had got the mix right. Not perfect perhaps but each song is crafted very well, tracks like Sjøhyenar (Havets herrer) have some perfect guitar lines wrote by no less than three guitarists. In which there is also an element of pure rock and roll fury with drummer Kjetil being able to switch between blasting his kit to death and rocking out like AC/DC or ZZ Top might.
Vocalist Erleиd Hjelvik provides the album with a mix of a black metal rasp and in a more rare occasions providing a more hardcore punk shout. Spilling bile in his native language about norse mythology, as deeply rooted in their own countries origins perhaps as the music has soul, something I find is missing in a lot of newer black metal bands in particular.
The album in essence could be described as black metal, punk and rock all rolled up into a ball, however this is an album so enjoyable with the pure rock riffing on Offernatt and 70's inspired Mjød to the more menacing sounding songs such as album closer Utrydd dei Svake. Whatever this album or Kvelertak are labeled doesn't really matter when it's as enjoyable as this. If only every debut album sounded as confident in it's own sound as Kvelertak's does then the music world would be a much better place. Kvelertak obviously have one message; don't think too much, just be who you are and don't care what the purists think. An excellent debut.
We've all heard black/punk and black rock'n'roll hybrids numerous times in the past, whether that be through Darkthrone's musings on their past few records, the hyper violence of Impaled Nazarene or the big rock grooves that inhabit the latest offerings of a band like Satyricon. There have also been a number of more obscure acts who more directly merge the two forms. But I doubt I've heard a band quite so promiscuous as Norway's young Kvelertak, who essentially take the booming, modern rock fuel of The Donnas or Turbonegro and mix in some premium grade black snarling, with occasional bursts into blasted territory or the melodic streaming of guitars that often characterize that genre.
Unfortunately, this has both its up and down sides. While it's very cool to hear that the band perform this all in Norse, and they do combine the genres very faithfully, I often felt like the black metal rushes were more interesting than the rock rhythms, which are pretty typical chord patterns we've heard many thousands of times from bands in both the punk and rock catalogs. This leads to a lopsided response on my part, because I end up enjoying songs like "Ulvetid" and the glorious, epic rolling of "Offernatt" to the more rock-inhibited "Blodtoerst", which sounds like The Donnas with Tomas Lindberg fronting them.
Still, I can access numerous places on this album where the two grow together like mated trees! "Fossegrim" sounds like the Norse band -I- with some rock infusion and a pretty evil bridge riff near the bottom, and with some of the latter tracks on the album like "Sultans of Satan" and "Nekroskop", the band knocks it completely out of the park, the punkish riffs taking on a vile illumination that was EXACTLY what I wanted to hear when I read about this band's merger of styles. "Ordmedar av Rang" also gets fairly passionate with the vocal range, and it's very cool to hear Erlend's screams right before the band will break it down to some bluesy rocking swagger.
Kvelertak is a damned interesting band, of that there is no doubt, and this is one of the brightest, most professional sounding attempts at this sort of fusion, enough so that the mix of the album captures each glinting, frenzied instrument in an almost accessible light. I am very interested to see the reaction at large to this band, because though I didn't love the songs quite as much as I'd have hoped, it's a decent debut, and should stir a lot of interest within and without of its constituent scenes, though I predict it'll make a bigger splash with the hipsters than the grims.