Had I been alive in 1969, I would have been a follower of bands like MC5 and the Stooges. The took something that was already good (Hendrix/Who era rock’n’roll) and added some energy to it. They played music that was a little faster, a little harder, a bit wilder, and way sweatier. I do my best to avoid describing albums by comparing them to other albums. Here, the comparison is going to happen, because this album is clearly the product of many influences, that ignoring as much would be a strain. The way that this album layers the influences is really unique, and the their sound is unmistakably unique.
This is an album that I never heard of, by a band that I never heard of, and so I decided to listen with fresh ears, having done any research at all. It is very hard for me to not google shit, so after my 4th listen straight through this album, I was relieved to be reunited with the world of information. I had so many questions. Kvelertak means “Stranglehold”, and Meir means “More”, both apt names, because this album is like a brawl in a bouncy house, BUT WITH MORE STRANGLING. The songs are energetic and jarring, but often really melodic also. Some of the solos sound like they were written and performed by Brian May (listen to Bruane Brenn for one of those). On other hand, these guys are Norwegian, and have bought into the legacy of brutality. Erlend Hjelvik, the vocalist at the time of recording, can scream like Nocturno, but is also capable of roaring like Ken Casey, or shrieking in the style of Quorthorn. What you won’t hear on this album is a note uttered in anything less than full paroxysm of vein-stressing rage. The hit on this album IMHO is track 9, “Undertro*” which somehow manages to include some really dark metal chuggery, broken up by those tight little discordances favored by bands like Mayhem. Then about 3 minutes in, they leave the blacker modes behind and rewrite the riff-motif in a pentatonic, turning the end of the song into an AC/DC-like anthem. Anyway, this whole album is going onto my fave metal mix.
*If this means anything, the internet doesn’t know.
Cover Image by Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38399652