25 March 2013
by Imran Siddiqi
There are bands that try to say fuck you to the world and there are bands that want to sound like bands that try to say fuck you to the world. Kvelertak couldn’t care less for either. They are their own category. They have three guitarists. One of them fingerpicks. They are their own prestigious circle of original thought and masterful creativity. You will never see inside this secret society because you are not worthy. Also because this is a band so humble and passionate in their approach to music, they are blissfully unaware that with their second album Meir, they have created a league of their own and have been saying “Fuck you” to the world since day one.
Lead single ‘Bruane Brenn’ serves as an extension to their debut album. Kiss worship that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Immortal record and a dose of Scandinavian rock’n’roll that makes “glam rock” sound slightly less camp. No mean feat. Dig a little deeper though and you quickly realise this is a band that has mastered their craft so perfectly, they can seamlessly transition to songs like ‘Evig Vandrar’ – a life-affirming track so drenched in the pure essence of rock’n’roll that, had she heard it back in the day, Joan Jett would probably have given up before she even started.
If you’ve seen Kvelertak live, you’ll know that vocalist Erlend Hjelvik is actually a viking. Not a “let’s-dress-up-and-swig-from-a-horn” one – Hjelvik can raze villages with his voice. The tone, range and sheer brutality he delivers on Meir are weapons in an arsenal that have to compete with some of the fiercest guitars in modern heavy metal and boy does he hold his own. Every word is a challenge to unarmed combat and he wants you to know that you will lose. He does, after all, come from a country that teaches their children to fight using just heavy metal as a weapon.
The album’s closing tracks clock in between the 6-8 minute mark and set apart the men from the boys. Black metal riffery that’d make Fenriz proud, triple guitar harmonies and drum work so tasteful it hurts. Throw in a few singalong-as-fuck vocals throughout to make you think you’re an honorary viking, until the leads kick in and make you wish you were in that one final scene in Bill and Ted.
God gave rock’n’roll to Kvelertak. They used it, Ballou produced it and Grohl approved it. The circle of rock legend is complete. True fans of heavy metal rejoice, your saviours are here.
Sounds like: Kvelertak squared
Standout tracks: Bruane Brenn, Apenbaring, Trepan