Kvelertak
Endling


3.0
good

Review

by Gene Gol-Jonsson CONTRIBUTOR (34 Reviews)
September 11th, 2023 | 79 replies


Release Date: 09/08/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: ...or how I learned to be serious, then unlearned it, then tried being taken seriously again.

Kvelertak were (and are, I suppose) among the most successful emergences from the onslaught of the late-00s trend of mushing hardcore, rock’n’roll, sludge, and a pinch of sugar into the mix. The post-Mastodon, post-High on Fire, mid-Baroness era was rich on these kinds of bands, rolling out rock like the French roll out their raspy R’s. But Kvelertak had that priceless energy and wit, where most other bands simply veered into fuzzy heaviness with weed or occult themes. This Norwegian superensemble were shredding riffs so ferociously they convinced the world and themselves that it was progressive metal all along. Therein came their downfall. By the third album, Nattesferd, the band started leaning heavily into the prog of it all and the old-school of it all, while still trying to maintain the sludgy core-y veneer, resulting in an album of dad metal pastiches with unfitting vocals. This more or less maintained one album longer after, but with first singles for Endling, things were looking up.

It seemed the band is back to their original blistering, fun-loving, mischievous everything bagel brand of metal. That is partially true, the lead singles “Krughsugierhgeifhaegkte” and “Sskkkkjfhgergrl” (written in exact pronunciation for the anglophone readers) both saw the band at their most invigorated and nasty. Especially the latter was a great leap for the band, as it maintained their early days rawness, while being largely constructed in a way they have been attempting to frame the previous two albums. The sheer vulgarity of sound on both tracks was exactly what makes Kvelertak so kvelling in their ertak to begin with. But hopes for the noodly nerds were not lost either, for the drawn-out, all-guitars-half-price type intro on the first single and opener, the aforementioned “Kruhrhrgurufrfjhrhsrjs” or whatchamacallit. This arpeggio build eventually erupts into a cacophonous avalanche of stoner riffs. It is in theory an adequate amalgam of the band’s sound over the years, smashed into one track.

One could say that the effort of the band to rebrand themselves slightly after the core line-up changes has finally come to something fruitful. Finally, after two albums of either misplaced ambition or testing new ground we have a finalised result. You would think that, would you not? On paper all stars have aligned, the band have proven themselves capable of rising back to their own standards. Welp, here’s the morbidly obese BUT hanging overhead: BUT the song-writing is bland. A critic’s nightmare, when all is glowing like a neutrino bomb, yet just adds to a superficially o k a y result. How does one even critique that?

Artist: So what did I do wrong?
Critic: Nothing.
Artist: So is my work great?
Critic: Ehh…

Does not work like that.

The trouble here is that you can only go so far on energy alone. It has worked twice, but increasingly it seems that it may have been a fluke, because the moment the band started navigating grander thematic concepts, diversifying their sound, playing with learned musical tropes, developing their records like art pieces with significant forethought, they dropped two of their lowest received albums to date. On Endling they did everything right, all the mistakes of the predecessors were accounted for and all the reasons for praise from their first two albums have been thoroughly examined. But just “this thing be slappin’” does not an excellent album make. The third-time mentioned opener is one such example. See, I did not mention that the avalanche of stoner riffs following the arpeggios actually amounted to anything. The track grows and grows and explodes and keeps exploding and then keeps growing and finally explodes one last time and abruptly ends. It is an awkwardly moving structure, whose main pull is the instrumental rawness that is genuinely fun, but if pressed against a gun’s barrel, I might have trouble picking apart what made it fun.

[For mine norske lesere: Sett inn et avsnitt som roser eller kritiserer teksten. Jeg prøvde å analysere med en oversetter, men det var som å male et portrett basert på binær kode.]

Among the intricately composed mush there actually is on occasion a shining intricately composed gem. The shortest cuts on the roster, coincidentally most mercifully titled with easily pronounced titles for my meekly Slavonic tongue, “Motsols”, “Paranoia 297”, and the title track, are all the energetic edge Kvelertak could muster, without needless dicking around the bush with build-ups and some such, going straight to the climax near-pornographically. Their harmonic and melodic sides are all the rage and show the band at their most infectious and powerful. These are the cuts that stand out the most. Similarly, “Svart September” is about the cutesiest the band as ever sounded with a classic rock-like ballad turned metallic. Here the melodic progression sets the stage for the dramatics in its finale perfectly.

Such are the highlights, but the ‘dicking around’ is Kvelertak’s main game these days, so nearly every other track that is usually over 4 minutes long has within the rawness of its energy the frame structure of a racehorse bolting through barriers aimlessly. Say, the final track “Morild”, where a genuinely lovely tune arises at around the halfway point, but has about the stiffest, most uncharacteristically vapid build-up preceding it. This trend is rippled all across the record. Bait and switch after another in quick escalation that just snoozes on with little playfulness in tempo, harmony, or depth. A whole set of songs here have writing that is great on paper but dissipates into some hazy wetness either from the get-go or on and off throughout the runtime. All in effect Kvelertak’s most characteristically energetic record since their heyday, yet also uncharacteristically non-descript.



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user ratings (99)
3.1
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
someone
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2023


6712 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

not for nothing, that cover is among the best covers this decade fo sho

anat
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2023


5774 Comments


dumb album name

someone
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2023


6712 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oh by the way, the single version of Skygangrene or whatever had this fade out at the end. i hate fade outs, but i figured they just cut out a chunk to keep it neat for the radios. but the longer version still has a fade out. why the dick would you expand a song only to give it the same kind of ending (or endling if you will)

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2023


32053 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Great review dude. I was also preparing a write up for this one so it may offer a counterpoint to your take. I really enjoyed the album. Have a pos!

someone
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2023


6712 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oh boy, it is on. bring on the hot debate of "i liked it fine VS i liked it very fine"

Pangea
September 11th 2023


10554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

hmm haven't liked any post s/t kvelertak all that much, but will still try this in foolish hope

botb
September 11th 2023


17979 Comments


I wonder if just going back to Kurt ballou for production at this point would help recapture the energy of the debut

Pangea
September 11th 2023


10554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

production was definitely an issue for the previous two

botb
September 11th 2023


17979 Comments


I remember liking the one with a blue cover, it was a bit more raw but the songs just weren’t as memorable. And I just don’t really love the new singer, but I don’t think that has anything to do with the fact none of their albums have caught me the same way the debut did

Flugmorph
September 11th 2023


34528 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Likvoke is amazin!

someone
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2023


6712 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The title track, Skidaddle, and Motsols are probs my faves

someone
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2023


6712 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Realised that Paranoia kinda sounds like a metal version of that one big Hives track



Wish they knew how to trim their track better, so the closer is genuinely great were it not for the slow drowsy start

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2023


32053 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Likvoke is indeed incredible. Loving the end part of the closer too.

ScuroFantasma
Emeritus
September 12th 2023


12052 Comments


Great review! Kinda keen to give this a go still, doesn’t hurt that the album art is sick.

someone
Contributing Reviewer
September 12th 2023


6712 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

your av is what the band thought every listener's reaction would be

Frost15
September 12th 2023


3263 Comments


Band got obsolete after their sophomore. Still enjoying their first two albums.

DoofDoof
September 12th 2023


15216 Comments


It’s an ok album

Pangea
September 12th 2023


10554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is definitely better as the previous two

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2023


32053 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

You folks are no fun.

Groundking
September 12th 2023


2307 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

listened through a couple times, only Likvoke caught my ear, disappointing.



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