Friday, July 16, 2010

Kvelertak: Kvelertak (2010) Review

Much has been said (by me and many others) about record labels trying to sign the next Mastodon. They find someone who sounds like Mastodon, package it up, and if possible they slap on some John Dyer Baizley cover art. The problem is, the "next Mastodon" isn't what they really want--they want the next band to make an impact. That band won't sound like anybody else; they'll be original.

Indie Recordings (1349/Enslaved/Satyricon/etc.) may have found that band.

I picked this one up completely blind. I never heard of them, but the Baizley cover art caught my eye and the song titles were all in Norwegian--a big plus. After I listened to it, I was blown away.

I don't know whether they don't sound like anyone else, or if they sound like everyone else. This is an eclectic mix, the kind you can usually only find in Finland or a few small corners of the US. It's got strong influence from the bluesy prog-sludge of Baroness (very southern-sounding, too), but there's also a lot of black metal, hard rock, stoner metal, and even a smattering of thrash. And all of these influences are turned into something fun by going through a filter of hardcore punk attitude. Maybe they're the next Mastodon, but then again they could be the next Motörhead. (Or, possibly, Faith No More, but heavier.)

Oh yeah, and all the lyrics are Norwegian.

This album should not exist. Music this punk-influenced shouldn't be progressive, but it is. Norsemen should not be able to play convincing melodies from the American South, but they do. And anything this eclectic should seem schizophrenic, but it doesn't. Everything blends seamlessly and beautifully together, held together by fantastic drumming and sheer force of will. It's catchy too, so album highlights like "Ulvetid", "Offernatt", and "Liktorn" go from tremolo picking to bluesy solos without any disconnect.

There are some gang vocals in here, but they actually don't detract from anything. I don't understand why they made their first video from "Mjød", though--it's a good enough song, but it's also the weakest (and punkest) one on the album. Instead, enjoy "Offernatt" to give you a taste of what Kvelertak is all about:

The Verdict: Kvelertak are easily the frontrunners for debut of the year with their self-titled album. Imagine a mohawk-sporting Odin astride a mastodon, waving a Confederate flag. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. I just have one suggestion: play it with the volume at 11.

One caveat: I wish these guys all the best and want them to make many, many more albums in the future. On the other hand, I don't want them to make such an impact that they spawn a legion of imitators. There are so many things that could have gone wrong (but didn't) that anyone else trying it would likely be an unbearable mess.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds interesting. I've heard of this band but have not checked them out much.