For a band who’s name translates in English as “Stranglehold” or “Chokehold”(depending) that fits this album to a “T” as that is exactly what it does, grab you by the throat and choke you out to Rock and Roll Heaven, from beginning to end. You couldn’t ask for a better example of Norweigan heavy rock these days.
Produced and mixed by Kurt Ballou(Converge), Stavanger Norway’s own Kvelertak created their eponymous effort is a slice of fried gold. Sung entirely in their native tongue, which makes it hard to know what’s being said but in the scheme of things that’s small potatoes, though the lyrics do have to do with Norse and Viking folklore which is extra rad to translate the lyrics and learn about all that mythology. At least if you are a awesome nerd like me.
Kvelertak has been kicking around since 2007 and finally released this thrash gem overseas in June of 2010 and it finally got it’s North American release in March of this year. I ordered a cd copy last year and have been digesting it ever since. I’m still waiting to get my hands on a vinyl copy of this sucker to really appreciate the cover art in its full glory(see final paragraph as to why). OK enough foreplay lets get down to the full dirty greatness of Kvelertak.
The album opens up with gang vocals yell, which serves as a call to arms, “Ulvetid” quickly desends into thrash punk-metal hybrid with drumming from Kjetil Gjermundrød that would give a woodpecker a run for it’s money.
The assending 3 guitar assault from Bjarte Lund Rolland, Maciek Ofstad and Vidar Landa gets your head spinning while Erlend Hjelvik throaty caterwauling gives you a really good sense of what you are in for.
"Mjød" starts off with a garage rock jangle before the breakdown slams you in the face and it just keeps up its pace. The chorus almost gives you a quick flash back to Rammstein’s “Du Haust” but that is a very glib comparison as “Mjød” is far superior as well as much more thrashy and less butt-rockish. There are some tasty riffs that play very well.
The guitar play in Fossegrim around the1:28 mark harkens back to some Jethro Tull “Aqualung” type playfulness then further into the track we get some great riff-age Stooges style. Its hard not to compare these super talent dudes to some of rock’s really great guitar bands but the most prevalent comparison that they get which is both apt and almost lazy is Turbonegro insomuch as they have this great root in punk rock but are also much heavier than your prototypical punk band while they masterfully straggle the line between hardcore, thrash and straight up rock n roll.
"Blodtørst” shows an great use of distorted flange. Erlend really nails it by keeping up the energy after the slower tempo bridge( slower is relative in this case)
The guitar solo in "Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer)" makes me melt especially when the second acoustic guitar comes follows a few step behind. Just stunning.
I can’t say enough about the drumming as it makes my neck hurt just listening to it on my laptop let alone when I have it cranked while I’m barreling down the interstate at 80mph.
The way they seamless flow between pure rock and roll swagger right into down and dirty thrash punk is floors me everytime.
The chorus on “Sultans of Satan” gives me the feeling that this might be what you would get if you caught Ville Valo on a homicidal rage. Its beautiful and full of distain in Erlend’s voice on it.
I haven’t talked about Marvin Nygaard’s bass skills. Which is something I wanted to save because I get chills of Cliff Burton as I listening to the ratcheted up bass lines.
“Liktorn” slams you like a shovel to the cranium before slowing down into almost a Viking dirge, after the first minute of speed freak love they bring it down into an epic feel before closing it with some great guitar shredding.
"Utrydd Dei Svake" both opens and closes with guitar work that sounds like Keith Richards in his prime, a bluesy rock feel but the in between is a summary of the aural assault that Kvelertak has unleashed upon you for a good 48 minutes. I cannot say enough about how much fun it is to listen to.
I’ve been a huge fan of Municipal Waste, Minneapolis’ In Defence, Turbonegro, Big Business and Baroness. I can gladly say that these 6 gents rank right up there bringing the finest in thrash rock Norway has to offer and kicked me in my American teeth.
My only regret is not being able to translate the words fast enough to know what is being said but honestly with the package of guitar mayhem, breakneck drumming, killer basslines, I’m more than happy to scream along to what probably sounds like gibberish as I try to recreate the lyrics in my own way while I scream right along with ‘em.
Highly, highly recommend. If you can’t find the album in your local record store, you can find the album on Itunes or if you want to get an import of the vinyl check this link:
Either way, this is a must have album for your collection.
Personal note on this band, back when Baroness toured in Madison WI in 2010 with Mastodon I picked up a screenprint of work that John Dyer Baizley had for sale. A month or so later being a massive fan of his art style I decided to get part of the screenprint as a tattoo as a full back piece. So far it’s turned out great but then a couple months after that a friend of mine who was also at the show told me that “some band from Europe” had my tattoo as their album cover art work. Naturally I was curious to see what this band might sound like, hoping against hope that I didn’t accidentally have some shit-tastic band’s album cover forever adorning my back.
|Not finished, still needs color|
Halle-fuckin-luiah was I in luck, not only do I have a rad back piece but the band that shared this artwork as their cover art was absolutely amazing. SO I now have a back piece to be proud of thanks to John’s art and my tattoo artist’s skill but I got turned onto a superb band along the way. If that isn’t a win-win situation, I’ll never see one.