The Lowdown: Over the course of their previous albums, Norway’s Kvelertak have delivered an intriguing amalgamation of heavy sounds. Splicing together elements of punk and black metal, the core of the band’s material rings with a true rock ‘n’ roll joy. Kvelertak’s creativity in weaving all these elements together continues to expand with each new LP.
Kvelertak’s fourth studio album, Splid, marks a significant new chapter in their history. Not only have the Norwegian rockers welcomed in new singer Ivar Nikolaisen (who replaced Erlend Hjelvik), they’ve signed to a new label, Rise Records.
The Good: Right away, it’s clear the playful vocals of Nikolaisen fit in nicely with the band’s aggressive sound. His cries and screeches add a welcome touch of mania to the material, further heightening the mix of hectic and bluesy cuts on Splid.
Opening track “Rogaland” begins with a rhythm that coasts to gentle touches of distortion; as the rhythm escalates, the song eventually bursts open to a bombastic collision of instrumentation, riding away to flourishes of heavy rock and punk-like adrenaline. “Crack of Doom”, which features Troy Sanders of Mastodon, carries over the frenetic rock ‘n’ roll joy of the previous cut. Sanders’ voice brings a hearty texture to the mix, trading off nicely with Nikolaisen’s vocals. On the same track, Håvard Takle Ohr’s drumming and Marvin Nygaard’s bass work pummel alongside the flavorful guitar playing of Vidar Landa, Bjarte Lund Rolland, and Maciek Ofsad.
Splid aims to keep the sonic delivery at a constant high, as each song is meant to be cranked up to ten. “Bråtebrann” exudes a Queen-like essence, as the vocals soar over radiant guitar work; the verse sections drop back into the band’s more aggressive tendencies, providing an interesting juxtaposition when the chorus comes around. “Fanden ta dette hull!” includes one of the more exciting transitions on the LP. The song plays to a relatively slower rhythm compared to previous cuts, but then abruptly becomes a full-on thrash track. The wicked speed and thundering of instrumentation allows for a truly vicious ride of mayhem.
The Bad: The continuous drive in aggression may be a bit overwhelming to some, but for those who crave the rush, Kvelertak have you covered.
The Verdict: For those looking for a modern act that embraces the qualities of classic heavy metal, while offering something new and exciting, Kvelertak are that band. Over its 11 tracks, Splid consistently churns out raging banger after banger, allowing for the record to roar with metal bliss. The creativity expressed in Splid is matched by its intensity, as Kvelertak embrace the metal spirit throughout the album.
Essential Tracks: “Crack of Doom”, “Bråtebrann”, “Fanden ta dette hull!”