Kvelertak (Norwegian for ‘Stranglehold’) are one of the more unique offerings hailing from the land of mystical forests and flowing fjords, and are anything but your typical Black Metal band from the region. In fact any hints of the sound are very few and far between on their fifth album Endling (Rise Records), with the influence used sparingly.
Endling is the second record not to feature founding vocalist Erland Hjelvik, and replacement singer Ivar Nikolaisen has had more than enough time to bed in, sounding great throughout an album, which, in the words of guitarist Vidar Landa; “tells the stories of the extinct and dying men and women of Norway.”
Those already familiar with the band will know exactly what to expect from the record, while newcomers are in for a wild ride that mixes styles and influences from one track to the next, built around a backbone of Punk and Classic Rock. Opening with a long and atmospheric intro on “Kroterveg Te Helvete” the song bursts into life when a funky bassline drops and the track builds – Led Zeppelin style – into crunching rock n’ roll meets blackened punk, delivered energetically with an Maiden-esque instrumental section.
The song comes in over the seven-minute mark allowing for Kvelertak to fully explore their box of tricks with an inventive arrangement and superb musicianship, two elements prevalent again on the ambitious “Dogeniktens Kvard”, which is a huge song landing at the halfway point, relentless in Nikolaisen’s vocal delivery and deliciously chaotic in the music.
The band also deliver a number of exceedingly catchy shorter songs that are punky and to the point, “Fedrekult”, “Motsols” and the title track all examples of the band stripping back to basics. We then get interesting deviations in style from the seventies glam rock stylings of “Skoggangr” to the jangly B52’s-on-amphetamines vibe of “Paranoia 297”.
While an absolute highlight for me is served up on “Likvoke” which opens with pounding drums and a darkly mesmerising chugging riff in a Sabbath-meets-(early) Ghost kind of style, which gets going once again with an Iron Maiden sounding hook, strong vocals, and an entwining of delicious riffs and leads.
This is an album that maybe a little incoherent and all over the place at times … but it works.
Buy the album here:
7 / 10