The success of Norway’s Kvelertak remains both encouraging and surprising. Who’da thunk a band playing blackened punk’n’roll, and steadfastly doing so in their native tongue, would catch on with anyone outside of their motherland?
Three albums in, the Stavanger sextet have refined their sound, creating a different mood from 2013’s Meir and their self-titled 2010 debut. Where the alterations have been made are in the pumping of the brakes on perpetual, in-your-face intensity; the tri-guitar melodies breathe and explore new territories like bendy-string classic rock in Dendrofil For Yggdrasil, shuffling blues in 1985 and rapid-fire garage rock in the title track.
Vocalist Erlend Hjelvik’s gritty howl contributes most of the sandpapery grime as a more stadium rock version of the band presents with the mid-paced, acoustic-accented epic Ondskapens Galakse and the Ramones-meets-Elvis pogo of Bronsegud.
Devilish, minor-key blackness has been eroded in favour of exultant, chest-baring melodies and fist-pumping rock.