Review Summary: Like an aural kegger for the blackened punk enthusiast in you. But set aside the light beer. Try something a little darker and more foreign.
It’s possible to enjoy many albums equally for many different reasons. You may like one album for its catchy melodies and another album for its conceptual storyline, but your love for each could be wholly symmetrical. The things we all know about this album are it blends a brand of black metal, punk and rock ‘n roll music like never before. Whether it be the tremolo picking madness and blast beats heard in the opening track, the second track’s foot tapping drum and bass intro, or the frenzy of a guitar solo on “Offernatt” leading into one of the album’s grooviest moments there is one clear reason to see this album through to its finish: It’s fun as hell.
Releasing this album onto the metal scene with its various influences spanning genres and subgenres of rock and metal alike could not have been timed better by the band. In an era where most bands either sound stale with the same sound hopping from album to album or lose a margin of their fan base due to questionable experimentation throughout their career, Kvelertak have carved a niche for themselves in this devoted musical scene. That niche being that they breed so many different styles of music that it will be near impossible for anyone who considers themselves a fan of rock or metal in general to not find something to enjoy about this release.
Each song on the record seems to introduce us to a band who knows exactly how take our over-tagged genre of prefixes and suffixes and create a hybrid that will satisfy all needs in one simple package. I say simple because the record, in and of itself, does not rely on individual performances or over the top production. The band works best as a whole, not letting anyone stand in the spotlight for too long so as to steal the show. Though the record is riddled with drum and bass grooves, flashy solos, head bobbing gang vocal harmonies, near danceable musical “breakdowns” and short interludes of acoustic excitement you can never say that one influence is being worn on the group’s sleeve too prominently. It sounds as if the band has more in common with classics like ACDC, The Ramones, and the Misfits rather than modern day heavy hitters of the genre. So with all of this apparent just on the first listen, where can this album possibly lose one’s attention?
While all of the production, influences and foreign shouts proved to be quite entertaining in the first listen or two, the album lost steam on subsequent spins. Sure, everything about the album is fun as a whole, never losing focus or presenting a weak track. However, the actual structures of the songs become quite
redundant, never giving way to anything that actually stands out from the rest of the pack (save for the ode to the classic “Foxy Lady”, which I found to be a bit tiring since the most memorable part of the record was something that wasn’t written by the band themselves). Regardless of which track you’re sitting down to you can count on it having a similar rhythm as all the preceding tracks with very little variation. Not a terrible attribute, but not a terribly stand-out one either.
While latching onto sounds and styles from multiple types of music gives us something new to hear it also becomes the bands biggest crutch, as using these styles to their fullest drowns the notion of the band really experimenting with anything besides the notion of experimentation. Regardless of these shortcomings, the album is truly a fun ride. Sounding more like a bunch of guys having a blast writing music to jump around a bonfire to rather than to sit down and critique, it may not present many unique tracks to refer back to, but the record as a whole will certainly give you a fresh take on blending the sounds of the past and present of our beloved genre. Nevertheless, any band that begins and ends an album by shouting their own name has my support.