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Kvelertak - "Kvelertak " (CD)

Kvelertak - "Kvelertak " CD cover image

"Kvelertak " track listing:

1. Ulvetid (3:30)
2. Mjød (2:31)
3. Fossegrim (3:33)
4. Blodtørst (3:38)
5. Offernatt (4:30)
6. Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer) (4:50)
7. Sultans of Satan (4:35)
8. Nekroskop (5:10)
9. Liktorn (5:35)
10. Ordsmedar av Rang (4:27)
11. Utrydd dei Svake (6:23)

Reviewed by on April 14, 2011

"These six musicians have put together a record that sounds like Black Flag and The Clash on a cocktail of cocaine and energy drinks."

Any metal fan who frequents the Internet has bound to come across the praise and word-associated blow jobs that Norway’s Kvelertak has been getting over the past year. Their eponymous debut blew over Europe last year and now the U.S is fortunate enough to get a taste of Kvelertak’s punk-metal sound. The amount of hype on this record almost guarantees some level of disappointment. However, most of the praise is justified, as this is a raucous outing reinforced by a triple-guitar onslaught and an infectious quality.

All the lyrics are in their native tongue, but that doesn’t stop the songs from being anthemic in spirit. Looking past the blatant punk-inspired attitude and frequent blast beats is a toe-tapping, melodic structure. These songs are meant to be sung along to, even with the language barrier in the way. The first four, especially “Ulvetid” and “Fossegrim,” have a driving flow and a killer mood to reinforce this undeniable catchiness. All four tunes should go over in a live setting with a vigorous response.

Having three guitarists opens up a lot more musical avenues to traverse across. The longer, free-forming jams near the end are where this open-handed nature can be experienced. “Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer)” builds upon a multitude of guitar tracks layered on top of each other, and the band goes all 80’s with the shredding on “Ordsmedar av Rang.” It all builds to a grand finale in “Utrydd dei Svake,” a song with a live-in-the-studio feel to it. Kvelertak cuts loose the last three minutes, complete with wild solos, acoustic guitars and a Southern-rock piano melody.

There are several guest musicians on the albums, including Hoest (Taake), Andreas Tylden (JR Ewing and Altaar), Ivar Nikolaisen (Silver), and Ryan McKenney (Trap Them). None of them overshadow the band, integrating themselves in to the point where you wouldn’t know they were there unless told beforehand. The vocalists brought in give some variety to the black metal-styled shrieks and screams. A limited use of clean vocals on “Sultans Of Satan” and “Utrydd dei Svake” are well done and unobtrusive.

Kvelertak has a ton of momentum on their side as they start playing shows in the states and gaining a reputation for a wild live show. Very few bands can live up to the talk and jabber of the metal community, and there will always be the cynics that crap over anything anticipated or hyped up. While this debut is not the second coming of a metal Christ or a breathtaking spectacle, this is an electric release that bodes well for the band's standings in metal circles. These six musicians have put together a record that sounds like Black Flag and The Clash on a cocktail of cocaine and energy drinks.

Highs: Catchy blend of punk and metal, triple-guitar attack, guest spots by several noteworthy musicians

Lows: Second half of album isn't as fast-paced as the explosive first half, may not be metal enough for some

Bottom line: A punk-metal hybrid with a ton of hype behind it, which is largely justified.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)