Kvelertak – Kvelertak
Release Date: 2010Jun21 (EU) / 2011Mar15 (US)
Label: Indie Recordings
Stranglehold. The Norwegian death rock band Kvelertak give the listener the proper feel for their music with their name and self-titled debut album. The band’s crass mix of harsh hardcore, magnificent metal riffs and explosive energy has been the subject of massive marketing in the Norwegian newspapers. By the time they released this album they had played loads of concerts all over Norway, gathering rave reviews as a hardworking live band. They even got to play the Roskilde festival in front of more than 3,000 rabid fans as a unsigned band. It also didn’t hurt when they revealed that Kurt Ballou (Converge) had produced the album and John Baizley (Baroness) had designed the album cover. Luckily, the band seem to care less about hype. Instead, they want to prove their worth by doing it the hard way––touring, touring and touring their album. As I write this, they have just finished a European summer tour with Converge, Kylesa and Gaza and are just about go on a autumn tour with Coliseum and Bison BC. They seem to have a great year––but is the album worth all the commotion?
Let me give it to you straight––you probably will not understand a single thing of what vocalist Erlend Hjelvik sings about. Not only because he screams with the same mighty roar as Envy‘s frontman Tetsuya Fukagawa, but also because the lyrics are in Norwegian. Does it matter? No, because Hjelvik manages to convey what he means with his voice just the same. The non-Norwegian listener will get some clues in the English subtexts to each song title (there is no lyric sheet). And when I translate the song titles, it all seems somewhat darker: “Bloodthirst”, “Exterminate The Weak”, “Wolf’s Night”, “Sacrificial Night”. But, they also show off their dark humour with song titles such as “Bunyon” and “Sultans Of Satan”.
These screams would seem naked and weak without a proper soundscape. The band does not fail their singer and with three guitarists in front of a thundering rhythm section it’s no wonder that Kurt Ballou had enough sound to tweak this album into the heavens––it sounds like a monumental inferno of raging nightmares. Hard, fast and short songs are sometimes all one needs, and Kvelertak does not disappoint. The single “Mjød” is the second track on the album and it’s a scorcher. It’s almost unfair to the opening “Ulvenatt” as that song nails the “opening song” stereotype, but all is fair in rock n’ roll.
Their solid sound is also the band’s pitfall–– this album is not as apocalyptic as Triptykon, as mindfuckingly amazing as Black Breath or as original as the new Twilight album. Are Kvelertak good enough to warrant a international breakthrough into an underground at present inhabited by Black Breath, Masakari, Doomriders, Kylesa and Black Tusk? Regardless, Kvelertak is a fun ride for all fans of incendiary death rock.
06. Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer)
07. Sultans of Satan
10. Ordsmedar av Rang
11. Utrydd dei Svake