And so continues a segment, in which I will listen to an album for the first time and give my impressions of said album as I go through. I will provide background information, a track by track review and then final thoughts. Enjoy!
Background: Kvelertak. There has not been a week in the last year or so that I have not heard my friends gush about this band. Through Facebook, text messages and in person conversations, I have heard great things about these guys. I am admittedly skeptical when that many people talk so highly of a band. This is strange, because you’d figure that if everyone you know and respect likes a band, you will dig them too. But sometimes, especially with us stubborn metalheads, that simply isn’t always the case.
Anyways, it came to my attention that Kvelertak has a new album coming out. I mentioned to my friends that I never heard the first one, they scolded me, told me to pick the album up and do a first impressions review on it. And so, here I am.
I will tell you what I know about this band going into it. They are Norwegian, the dude from Baroness does their album covers, their song titles took me a long time to spell correctly, especially with this damned auto-correct thing I can’t seem to turn off and their songs are about drinking Viking beer from sheep’s heads. I may have made that last part up. Other than that, I honest to god have no idea what to expect here. The only time I got even a snippet of this band, I was so drunk that I could have been played the new Bright Eyes and thought it was a great heavy metal album. Speaking of which, when I got this album in the mail, some dude came into my office and said, “is that the new Of Montreal?” Just a weird random though. So, with no expectations, knowledge of the band’s sound or anything, I listen to Kvelertak for the first time.
1) Ulvetid – This starts off like more of a rock and roll song than metal, then goes into an almost black metal styled riff/drumming. The vocal style is a high pitch scream, mixed in with some hardcore styled shouting, which is in a language I don’t speak. The verse of this song is cool, but that “driving” main riff was pretty boring. After the second chorus, they go into a pretty cool bridge that ends up in a solid solo. Not the greatest opener, in my opinion, as this sounds like a song that would have done fine later in the album, but a solid track all the same.
2) Mjod – I think I am starting to get an idea of what this band is about. This is pretty much sleaze rock, ala Jet or the Hives with a lot more distortion, no melody in the vocals and in Norwegian. As for this song, its pretty boring, the same drum beat as the first track. That being said, if I was just the right level of drunk, you know that ”happy state,” I’d be all over this.
3) Fossegrim – For a second when that lead guitar did its thing in the beginning, I got really excited. Some cool harmonies and nice breakdowns make this the heaviest song on the record so far. Those little moments make this track pay off and I dig it. They did some things to actually change it up on this one, like palm muting a guitar and using a different drum beat.
4) Blodtorst – This one starts off with another repetitive drum part and Queens of the Stone Age inspired everything down-stroked riff. As a matter of fact, this song reminds me of Queens of the Stone Age…without the melody of course. Another breakdown and hey Kvelertak, the Foo Fighters want their bridge back. Luckily I’m a Foo Fighters fan, so I can dig it. When these guitarists aren’t being utterly lazy, they’re pretty good. Their riffs are largely boring, but they do have some very cool lead parts. This song did not blow me away though.
5) Offernatt – Yeah! I really dug that opening guitar harmony. Best part of the album so far. This opening riff is HUGE! This verse rocks! Lets see where they take it for the chours…oh….that….again. The same guitar part….and drum part….again. They guitars do some cool stuff in the second chorus though, which I dug. I will say that everything, besides the far too repetitive, for the album, chorus, this is a bad ass song.
6) Sjohyenar (Havets Herrer) – This is my favorite song on the album so far. There is this part in the middle where they start playing a cool lead guitar part, they throw in some acoustic guitars, then go balls out for the rest of the song. I really dug this one, as it’s the most “different” track I have heard so far.
7) Sultans of Satan –These words don’t look Norwegian to me! Anyways, what the hell is going on here…after a shrieking scream for six songs, we have the first vocal melody of the album. Sandwiched between the often aforementioned guitar/drum part they put in every song, is a catchy chorus. Ok…now we’re in the bridge and we’re getting into some nice Sabbath inspired territory. Decent track.
8) Nekroskop – This one starts off with the same drum part again! You want to write a Kvelertak song, do this: Have your guitarist downstroke eighth notes over and over, the have your drummer play eighth notes on the bass drum with snare hits on the two and four. You will have 75% of this album. Giving credit where its due however, these guys are good at taking a simple guitar part, adding a layer to it and making it sound much more full. The chorus to this song is a death metal inspired, weird part that didn’t fit to well with the rest of the song for me. But at least it changed things up for a few seconds.
9) Liktorn – We start off with what sounds like a Dark Funeral track, then it sounds like Mastodon, then the music abruptly stars, then it sounds like “Revelations” by Maiden for a second, and holy shit! They made it two minutes before they went to the “Kvelertak Riff/Drum.” Well done guys. That was a cool intro, but the rest of this song is more of the same.
10) Ordsmedar Av Rang – The main riff to this song really rocks! I’ve never quite heard anything like it. Hard to describe, but its very good. The chorus leaves a lot to be desired, as it just comes across as noisy and muddled, but this one riff goes a long way towards making this a good song.
11) Utrydd Dei Svake – Whoah…easy there fellows….going crazy with the off timing riff. Then its more of the same before they go into more of the same. There are some clean vocals again during the chorus which made me wish I spoke Norwegian. There are some things to like in this song, but nothing which especially pushes it over the top.
Conclusion – I know my friends will crucify me for this, but I didn’t care for the album. I’d rather go throw in a Queens of the Stone Age album, because it sounds exactly the same, except you actual get some great vocal melodies and far more variety. I think Kvelertak would be a great live band to see, as their music lends itself to the stage quite well. Getting a few brews in you and seeing these guys tear up a small club would be a blast. As for listening to the record, its just not my cup of tea. They need to add much more variation, particularly in the vocal department for me to get excited about these guys. I don’t hate them by any means and I respect what they do, it just doesn’t do much for me.