Welcome to what I hope to be a (semi) recurring feature here at Defending Axl Rose: METAL MONDAY! I’m really excited to talk about Kvelertak, whose name is Norwegian for “Stranglehold.” I gotta say, I love over-the-top metal. In fact, I pretty much despise metal that takes itself too seriously. Kvelertak is a six-piece Norwegian black metal band that are just the right amounts awesome and goofy as shit. Their songs are all sung in Norwegian and from what I can decipher deal with Norse/Viking themes. I guess they could be saying anything and I wouldn’t know it, but honestly metal this powerful is pretty universal.
Kvelertak are most definitely a metal band but they have a lot of punk and hard rock sensibilities. I really like their rich, diverse sound they have. The band makes good use acoustic guitar and piano in some of their songs, without making them feel gimmicky or forced. Aggressive (or high energy if you prefer) while at the same time very melodic, Kvelertak is great for working out or just punching stuff. These guys are damn fine musicians and their guitar riffs/hooks are pretty memorable.
My favorite tracks are “Blodtorst,” “Mjod,” “Liktorn,” and “Nekroskop.” All of which are loud, complex, and in your face awesome. All of the album tracks hit hard and fast and always leave you wanting more. That last part is most important to me because unlike a lot of metal bands, Kvelertak tend to keep their songs right around the 3 1/2 to 4 minute mark. I find that by arranging their songs like more traditional rock/pop songs, Kvelertak keeps me from getting bored. The usual metal tropes like stupidly long intros or overly lengthy solos pretty much absent from KVELERTAK. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good solo but sometimes it’s best to be left wanting more. And Kvelertak definitely leave me wanting more.
Their first album, KVELERTAK came out this year in the US, but was originally released back in 2010. I first heard about the band from Metalsucks (a pretty righteous metal website) who sang their praises. After hearing a few of their songs I illegally downloaded the album and enjoyed it for an entire year. When they finally came to iTunes in America this year I instantly snapped it up (it came with 4 extra live tracks and 2 demos, but honestly it was so damn good I just wanted to give them my money).
And let me just say, I haven’t seen such an awesome album cover in quite a while, metal or otherwise. It’s hypnotic and sexy. I know it’s wrong to judge a book by it’s cover, but that cover art was one of the reasons I decided to give Kvelertak a listen in the first place. Metal bands take note: sometimes a big bloody skull is not the best way to attract knew fans.
I was also impressed to see Kvelertak listed as “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” in the metal category on iTunes End-of-the-Year Rewind. Clearly they’ve made a big impact on the American metal scene, I hope they grow into a major metal act in the years to come. If like me, you got some iTunes gift cards this holiday season you should pop over to iTunes and download KVELERTAK, if you like thundering Viking music you won’t be disappointed.
KVELERTAK gets an “A” for thundering through my brain for over a year and half.