February 10, 2020 Kvelertak – Splid (Album Review)
While Norway is known for its old school Black Metal, it is less known for its Rock-n-Roll, Punk, or newer takes on Black Metal. Now at over ten years in the making, Kvelertak explores all the above categories, and are back in a big new way with their fourth album to date, Splid. Rise Records deliver the disc on Friday, February 14, 2020.
With the departure of founder and vocalist Erlend Hjelvik in 2018, Kvelertak’s new vocalist and old friend Ivar Nikolaisenhas undoubtedly has lots to live up to. The band as it exists now still holds true with its three guitarists Vidar Landa, Bjarte Lund Rolland, and Maciek Ofsad, along with bassist Marvin Nygaard, and new drummer Håvard Takle Ohr. As a very diverse mix of genres working as one, Kvelertak never disappoints in their range of musical content.
For their latest album, Splid, Kvelertak present eleven tracks averaging five minutes long, songs that weave themselves in and out of the listeners’ psyche in various dynamic ways. If one can get past the difference in vocal sounds, then this album has much exceptional diversity to offer. Nikolaisenhas accomplishes what the album sets out to do, and really excels at his harsh vocal range in the last track “Ved Bredden Av Nilhil,” which is black n’ roll at its finest moment.
Backing up to the beginning, the first song, “Rogaland,” explores its Rock-n-Roll overtones dispersed from Punk heritage in a way that only Kvelertak can perfect. Next up, “Crack Of Doom” is a fun tune that features special guest Troy Sanders of Mastadon, which blends in great with the essence of Kvelertak since Mastadon happens to be on a different yet similarly creative musical path. After this wild amusement, the listener skips on to an energetic track called “Discord,” followed by “Bråtebrann,” which is about a burning ritual Norway seems to enjoy as a pastime.
Hearing the crazed energy of a fast and furious punk rock song sung in Norwegian with three guitars is very unusual in the land of metal, but is typical in the mind of Kvelertak dominating in the song “Uglas Hegemoni.” Raising Rock-n-Roll awareness with its seven and a half minutes of Punk and Classic Rock turned Thrash attack, “Fanden Ta Dette Hull!” paves the way for even more madness with the best of the best in creative fun on “Stevnemote med Satan.”
Finally, hailing strong at over eight minutes long, the pleasantries of “Delirium Tremens” sets in with very melodic overtones throughout. Closing out the fortress of strong, holding unity as mentioned earlier, Kvelertak raises their torch high with yet again a full-bodied sound, not only in the guitars, but also in the Punk-styled drumming that can only be enhanced by waves of heavy Black Metal submerging into all senses.
This unique expression and intertwining of genres alone makes Kvelertak stand out among the crowd. As their songs may be sung in Norwegian, they still capture a universal voice that promotes world appreciation. As fans look forward to a tour, after a few listens of this album one can more easily accept the changes in their line-up as a new chapter with no ending in site.
So, while the last Kvelertak album, Nattesferd, still competes for best album of their whole discography, Splid can hold a candle that won’t burn out easily. As with all band reconfigurations, it is suggested to give Splid a listen with an open mind. Therefore, Cryptic Rock gives Kvelertak’s latest album 4 out of 5 stars.