Review Summary: Kvelertak display an array of new sounds while upholding their genre-fusing antics.
To say Kvelertak’s entrance into the metal ranks was explosive would be an understatement. Anticipation and eagerness spread like wildfire over a short amount of time when the Norwegian sextet released their celebrated self titled debut album back in 2010. With a fresh palette of razor sharp riffs that span over a number of genres from Gothenburg-esque death metal to classic rock, how could it not succeed? It instantly became a go-to album for music that is hard to classify into one genre.
Arriving off the success of the self titled album was “Meir”. The level of excitement was raised even higher for Kvelertak’s 2013 sophomore album which was only matched by the commercial triumph it earned. However, “Meir” did seem as if it was simply a continuation of its predecessor’s exciting songs and not much more. But then, the album title does translate to “More” after all. Kvelertak’s third offering, “Nattesferd”, is therefore subject to the daunting task of deterring the band from falling into the trap of unoriginality which has, so far, earned them a reputable name.
What differentiates “Nattesferd” from the band’s previous material are tracks like “1985”. This leading single is a suitably lighter rock n’ roll track which bears semblance to a sludgy Van Halen during its overdrive solos and elastic guitar hooks. Here, Kvelertak do genuinely seem intent on stepping outside of their thriving territories and further genre cross-pollination is found in ‘Ondskapens Galakse’ which assumes a recluse psychedelic rock melody. That’s not to say that Kvelertak have abandoned their original chaotic noise- in ‘Beserkr’ they harness their raw enjoyment factor and fuse it with new ideas like brief spacey samples and NOWBHM gallivanting guitars to create a sonically berserk tune.
There are a number of songs which sound, undoubtedly, like a “Kvelertak” song. If they even have a ‘traditional sound’ then it’s unearthed in tracks like ‘Svartmesse’ and the title track. Both feature catchy extended riffing sections, dual harmonics and fast paced vocals from Erland Hjelvik but the pure animation that summarizes Kvelertak’s music is down to the trio of guitarists. Layered melodies and riffs fly out of every direction on “Nattesferd” which make tracks like ‘Bronsegud’ all the more irresistibly satisfying.
The permanence of Kvelertak’s popularity is solidified in the last two tracks of the album. ‘Heksebrann’ dives through a shower of melodies and into a pool of upbeat post rock, sludge and stoner metal. Obviously the extended song-writing is a, virtually, untouched addition to the band’s song writing abilities and they accomplish in maintaining captivation throughout the entire nine minutes of ‘Heksebrann’. A Black Sabbath influence is prominent in the slow burner closer, ‘Nekrodamus’, however it still has that blackened punk edge characteristic to it through the convulsing vocals. These two final tracks encapsulate the essence of “Nattesferd” completely: What do you call it? Punk? Metal? Rock? Melodic death? Hardcore? The only singular classification you need to apply to this album, and this band, is simply: fun.