Review: Kvelertak – Kvelertak



Kvelertak are doing something right. For an album that hadn’t even been released in the US until now, their self-titled full-length has garnered acclaim the world over, from it’s two Grammy nominations in the band’s native Norway to its inclusion on a whole lot of the extreme-metal press’ Best-of-2010 lists. All this, and the band doesn’t even sing in English. Yet for all the hype surrounding it, Kvelertak is a solidly average album, a record with all the pieces that make up a masterpiece and no idea where to put them.

In the first three tracks, “Ulvetid,” “Mjod,” and the enthusiastic “Fossegrim,” Kvelertak make their influences and intentions known, straddling the thin line between Black Sabbath and Bathory, with healthy doses of Turbonegro, Torche, and the Crown tossed in. A promising combination, right? From there on, however, every song blends together. There are southern-fried guitar leads and blackened breakdowns aplenty (does this band really need three guitarists?), but none of them stand apart from one another. Vocalist Erieed Hjelvik’s pained cries all sound the same after a while, and when proper close “Utrydd Dei Svake” comes to its banjo-on-piano finish (the album has been release Stateside here with a six bonus live and demo tracks), no specific riff or solo lingers in the listener’s memory. The whole experience is thoroughly enjoyable, but easily forgotten.

To be fair, Kvelertak sound like an badass live band. These songs beg to be performed at high volumes to a packed club full of liquored-up longhairs, because a concert setting is perfect for jamming out to the same guitar antics over and over. But these Norse stoner rockers have miles to go before they slay. The bands whose work so heavily inform this album branded their listeners with their unforgettable sounds. Kvelertak have the fire; they just need the iron. CHRIS KROVATIN

  • Jflizard

    Maybe you skipped something. There are some more memorable moments like “Utrydd dei svake”. The instrumental part is just great, catchy, and what a great song. I can agree with you in parts: some songs are a bit blended together, you can easily stop paying attention if you’re not in the right mood! I guess this is an album that should be listened. Then breathe a bit, since you may get mixed feelings… then listen again with no compromise, and again… and then you can have your true opinion about it. Same thing happened to me 20 years ago, when I listened to th “vulgar and boring” Nirvana’s “Smells like teen spirit” – I didn’t like it that much. It was on the Side-B of Pixies “Bossanova”, and that was the album I wanted to listen. But moving forward the tape was battery intensive, so I listened to Nirvana’s again… And on the 3rd time I listened to it, I just picked that tape so I can experience that superb album called “Smells like teen spirit”