This Valentine’s Day is truly a day for Heavy Metal Lovers everywhere as Kvelertak, Norway’s celebrated conjurers of pitch-black rock'n'roll cacophony return after a prolonged hiatus, fuelled by major upheavals. After 11 years and three celebrated albums with the band, singer Erlend Hjelvik departed abruptly in 2018, the band then splitting with Roadrunner Records after 2016’s acclaimed Nattesferd. Now signed to global rock label Rise Records, 2020 sees them return emboldened with Splid, their first album in four years. Read on to find out what they have in store…
You’ve Probably Already Heard New singer Ivar Nikolaisen
Remember the banger that was Blodtørst from Kvelertak’s 2010 self-titled debut? Yeah, new singer Ivar Nikolaisen, a long-time friend of the band, was a guest vocalist on the track, technically making him their new, old singer; sort of. A carpenter by trade, “I’m a better singer than I was a carpenter”, he laughs, Ivar dropped everything to join, a life-changing decision. His inclusion was a no-brainer for the band. “After Erlend left, the rest of us didn’t feel finished at all,” explains Guitarist Vidar Landa. “We knew Ivar from way back… He was the one. Once we began working together, there was a renewed energy to the band.” His vocal range is still capable of hitting the vocal chords-dragged down a cheese grater-harshness of old but brings a melodious range that on the likes of second single Crack Of Doom has allowed the band to experiment with their formula.
Don’t Worry, They Still Sound Like Thin Lizzy Burning Down Churches
It’s been four years since the band, completed by bassist Marvin Nygaard, drummer Håvard Takle Ohr and guitarists (yep, they have three) Bjarte Lund Rolland and Maciek Ofstad, released a record, but worry not, time has done nothing to dull the sharp edge with which they deliver head-bangingly huge classic rock riffs, a feel-good vibe offset by the extreme punk and black metal-fuelled musical tumult that besets your ears. Vidar sums it up perfectly: “It’s an album you can bring to a party but also put on your headphones out in the woods in the Norwegian winter.” The title Splid translates as ‘discord’- summing up not only their musical clash of styles but the increasingly polarised times in which we find ourselves, a source of inspiration for the band.
It Was Recorded By Converge Guitarist/Producer Extraordinaire Kurt Ballou
Salem, Massachusetts, famous for its penchant for Witch Trials, of course makes for a none-more metal home for highly respected and influential Converge guitarist and producer Kurt Ballou, the band travelling to the United States to record Splid at his God City studios in October 2019. Ballou has worked with several modern-day big hitters, including Code Orange, Every Time I Die, High On Fire and the Dillinger Escape Plan, which along with his legacy for unique expression within musical extremity made him the perfect man for the job.
Mastodon’s Troy Sanders Guests
Second Single Crack Of Doom is bolstered by the baritone of Mastodon bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders, howling brazenly before crooning his way through the destructively epic chorus. While Kvelertak owe much of their legacy to classic rock and black metal, there has always been an element of their sound that nodded to the experimentalists of America’s south- the likes of Neurosis and Mastodon. This legacy comes full circle with the addition of Sanders’ ancient sounding tones, the vocal elder statesman to Ivar’s feral upstart, helping the band deliver their biggest chorus yet.
They Sing In English For The First Time
Of the eleven tracks on offer, two of them, second track Crack Of Doom and fourth track Discord both feature lyrics sung in English for the first time in Kvelertak’s history, offering new thematic insights into the band for non-Norwegian speakers. Alongside offsetting caustic vocals with Nikolaisen’s melodic vocal capabilities, it’s the sound of a band broadening their horizons whilst remaining true to their original essence.
The New Album Has Plenty To Live Up To
2010’s self-titled Kvelertak took the metal scene by storm, going gold in Norway and winning two Spellemannprisen Awards (Norwegian Grammys). Their gold disc was presented to them by none other than rock royalty Dave Grohl, himself a fan. 2013’s Meir, a less instantaneous listen, was critically vaunted for its experimental approach to their riff mania. Nattesferd was one of the most anticipated albums of 2016, a more cohesive collection of songs than its predecessor that again proved a critical highpoint. Splid indeed has a legacy to follow but feels as much a continuation as it does a step in to new territory.
They’ve Got Something To Prove... And Things Get Epic
“This album is more focused, but it pushes in every direction…Every song and riff mean something to us,” Explains Vidar, “We had something to prove.” Lead single Bråtebrann is testament to this, storming out of the gates on a torrent of agit-riffing in the verses and a chorus borne on a band-unifying chant reminiscent of Queen- punk fury and classic-leanings that speak simultaneously of their past and their desire to push forwards. The eight minutes of penultimate track Delirium Tremens does just that; the undulating, folky nature of its opening few minutes gradually building in muscularity unto explosion at the mid-point, where memorable hooks and frantic solos do battle with breakneck passages of percussive fury. Its assault catches you off guard just when you think the record has shown its hand, bringing to mind epics by Iron Maiden and Metallica.
They’re Touring The UK In March
With Hjelvik leaving so abruptly that he couldn’t fulfil the band’s summer 2018 tour dates, Ivar’s rapid introduction was a short sharp shock, the band then taking stock to record their follow up. It’s been a while, so don’t miss out; the band are playing three UK dates:
Mar 20: Manchester Academy 2, UK
Mar 21: Bristol SWX Bristol, UK
Mar 22: London Electric Brixton, UK