Review Summary: More everything.
Known dubiously in some circles as "hipster-metal", Kvelertak draws from a broad palette of influences. Maybe this multifaceted approach lends to the chagrin of dedicated, sub-genre obsessed acolytes; the liberal infusion of hardcore and black metal with classicist hard rock riffing brings a much-needed injection of variation to some otherwise well entrenched genres. But no matter which direction they sway, the Norwegian six-piece does nothing but embrace the essence of fun-loving punk rock. As many reviewers have already stated in spades, Meir
is the penultimate soundtrack to a drunken Viking nightclub (hypothetically preceeding the rampage and conquest oriented death metal of Amon Amarth).
The Scandinavian winter is so harsh that entire subgenres of depressive metal were penned in these territories; the very orbit of the Earth even works against the populace with seasonal affective disorder in a region where the suicide rate is relatively high. But instead of imagining concepts that fall into the very same tropes of bleak and cold metallic atmospheres, Kvelertak transcends these barriers by emulating the pure joy of spring's great thaw in Meir
. "Spring Fra Livet" sheds the common compositional conceptions of black metal by completely foregoing minor key tonality in favor of a major key based structure, in turn reveling in its epic nature while forcing a smile on even the most heartless heavy music aficionados.
But the primary differentiator between Meir
and the self-titled debut lies within that very namesake. In English, meir translates quite simply to "more". And more it is, with more hardcore, more punk, more black metal, and more riffing than before. It's interesting that, instead of "going prog" like many heavy bands evolving their sound, Kvelertak refuses this sort of easy way out, making a record that calls into question why such an amalgam exists nowhere else. "Nekrokosmos" is a perfect example - especially the brilliant vocals of Erlend Hjelvik shouted in typical anarcho-punk fashion. The track phases in and out of hardcore and black metal amidst riffing and a reverb-laden atmosphere that intentionally blasts the track into space.
, Kvelertak prove that it's actually okay
to play happy metal without appearing saccharine or contrived. After quite literally turning the volume up to eleven and working to destroy the preconceptions of what metal actually is, it will be interesting to see which direction they go next.