Music Reviews — 18 October 2011
Kvelertak: A Album Review

In recent years Norway has become hallowed ground for all things hard rock and heavy metal. Amazing bands and killer festivals appear to be popping up all the time, leaving American metal fans like me jealous. But fear not, many of these acts are heading west to melt our faces. Stavanger, Norway’s Kvelertak is one such band. The band’s name which roughly translates into “stranglehold or “choke-hold,” is directly related to the grasp American hard rock and metal audiences will feel when they listen to Kvelertak’s debut album. 

The self-titled debut shows the bands range, as the six-piece can slip between hard rock, metal, and punk with great ease. And in a turn that I found quite interesting, all of Kvelertak’s lyrics are recorded in their motherland’s native tongue of Norwegian, staying true to their uncompromising roots.

This album is relentless from start to finish. The opening track, “Ulvetid” kicks in with death growls, and an all out drum assault. It’s a fantastic way to start off an album that takes not a single break for the listener to take a breather. The overall dominating force of the opener is drum work, but it shares a nice balance with some multi-layered guitar work, and sharp vocals by frontman Erlend Hjelvik.

Kvelertak’s lyrics speak of Norse mythology and Viking folklore, both of which are very popular metal topics in that part of the world. But they have found a way to put a new spin on the sound making it their own. Yes, you still have the singing in unison or as I call it, “Viking Chant,” but they split that with raving punk vocals. Never is this more prevalent then on the album’s first single, “Mjød.” It’s a headbanging inducing track, that will be on repeat on mp3 players throughout the land, and sick at a live show.

This impressive debut is chock full of tunes to quench the thirst of fans of all hard rock genres. But we whole-heartily recommend the following cuts as required listening: “Fossegrim,” “Blodtørst,” and “Nekroskop.” Each of these show off how technically proficient Kvelertak is at getting the job done right.

Kvelertak’s debut album is available now through The End Records. The band is currently on tour with Skeletonwitch, another incredible metal band who also deserves your respect. New Yorkers will have two chances to catch Kvelertak this weekend as the band hits Club Europa in Brooklyn this Friday, October 21st, and again on Saturday, October 22nd aboard the Rocks Off Concert Cruise Aboard The Jewel. Raise your horns up, and get ready to be blown away by the Viking! Rating: 8/10

- Jay Rubin

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