It seems the career trajectory of Norway’s Kvelertak can be compared it some ways to Rammstein, albeit with a currently quicker ascent, at least in the UK – having caught the eye with their debut self-titled record, a curious blend of black metal-tinged hardcore and classic rock, generating much discussion, despite the inherent lack of English or even German in their lyrical content. For certain it didn’t harm their true black metal forefathers who regularly sung in their native tongue, though their sound was in polar opposite to the mainstream in their desperate attempts to remain close to their origins. Kvelertak recognise those ancestral links but seem to embellish the party aesthetic of rock n’ roll and a hardcore intensity.
There’s nothing much different on album number two, ‘Meir’ (simply meaning ‘more’ in English), with every lyric still sung in their primary language, and the odd whiff of a cry of ‘sellouts!’ now they’re a Roadrunner band in the majority of the world. A disappointing sign of the times, you might well say, but if only that were actually true. What’s going on here is largely, literally more of what ‘Kvelertak’ offered. But like the greats so often do, they don’t change what isn’t broken. And so ‘Meir’ should just be enjoyed for what it is – a band revelling in their influences and having a damned good time doing so too. The black metal influence is prevalent in flashes particularly early doors and again later on the thrilling ‘Nekrokosmos’, but there’s a party vibe seemingly finding freedom in their sound too, particularly on tracks like the thoroughly anthemic ‘Evig Vandrar’, the Bronx-meets-Turbonegro groove of ‘Bruane Brenn’ and the truly stadium worthy ‘Tordenbrak’, with a riff that AC/DC would be proud of. How ironic, given that ‘Tordenbrak’ is Norse for the word ‘thunder’.
There’s no mistaking that Kvelertak still herald their Viking ancestors and indeed their Norwegian musical forefathers greatly, but the animal inside them it seems is always willing to turn loose. And hence, we are given a band for whom second album syndrome is a curse word that ought to be flushed down the toilet along with the other nonsensical terms this industry throws up. Sure the purists might balk and only the curios would constantly try to decipher every word they’re screaming, but Kvelertak’s name is growing with rapturous aplomb. These fair voyagers are likely to light fires and raise a beer in the sky numerous times before ‘meir’ becomes ‘mindre’.
Kvelertak – Bruane Brenn