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Kvelertak - Kvelertak (Indie Recordings)

By: Mike Sloan

[8.5/10] New, unique music is critical for any genre to survive; itís that simple. Luckily for anybody who pops this beast into his or her stereo, itís evident instantaneously that Kvelertak are a band to be reckoned with for years to come. The Norwegian six-piece is an immediate breath of fresh air into the typically stagnant metal world and their self-title debut album will be littered across the globe on many a year-end list.

Sporting a hefty eleven songs of pure energy, Kvelertakís self-titled album is like a surgically planted heart into musicís bloated corpse, one that pumps blood and life into the scene. While many bands have spliced together death metal, black metal, thrash, rock & roll and punk before, virtually nobody does it as effortlessly or with such vigor as Kvelertak.

At times the album is pure blackened death with a ting of punk ala Impaled Nazarene. Other times itís somewhat similar to the groovier, more rocked out versions of Entombed. Sick of it Allís angst and Opethís grooves make a few cameos as well, but when the band decides to switch it up a little bit, they mix in some wicked Scandinavian folk-inspired tunes. Their music is a tapestry of everything enjoyable about the positive elements of extreme music.

The key to their songwriting success, however, is how much pure energy just gushes out of each passage on the album. Sure, the songs are aggressive and melodic when they are supposed to be and they are all unique and catchy at the same time, but their secret ingredient is simply something most bands (old and new) just canít produce: pure fucking energy.

It doesnít matter one iota that every song is sung in their native tongue because vocalist Erlend Hjelvikís intensity and enthusiasm trumps the language barrier. Sure, itíd be swell to actually sing along with what he screams or when the band collectively chants like the best of the vintage hardcore/punk bands of yesteryear, but itís all good. The music and (again) energy are just too powerful to even worry about getting the words correct.

While each song is its own unique entity within the album and not one is filler whatsoever, nothing that Kvelertak has written stacks up against the album closer, ďUtrydd dei Svake,Ē an absolute masterpiece of a passage that will go down as one of the strongest singular experiences of 2011. Catchy and emotive from start to finish, itís the last three minutes that truly demonstrate the strength of the craftsmanship of Kvelertak. Once the aggressive crescendo is reached and the hammer-like wave reaches its zenith, the song mellows with a beautiful and provocative half acoustic instrumentation until the album closes.

The only drawback is that the album is loaded with six demos from songs already on the album. Itís probably a record labelís decision and not the band, but itís just silly to include these bonus tracks on an album, especially a bandís debut, before the metal world hasnít even had any chance to let the actual final product sink in. They should have been made available years down the road. Oh wellÖ itís an absolute monster of a record nevertheless that must be purchased and the final overall score might actually ďunofficiallyĒ increase by yearís end.



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