MUSIC: Kvelertak’s Latest Album, Meir

Kvelertak-bio-picTHERE are few rock bands over the past couple of years that have enjoyed the breakout success of Norwegian sextet Kvelertak (Stranglehold in their native language). The self-titled debut album was a lively mixture hard rock, punk and black metal that was met with widespread critical approval. The band has gone on to play sets at Reading and Download festival, open for the Foo Fighters and was signed to Roadrunner Records earlier this year.

Their newest outing Meir translates to more which you realise is a very fitting name once you start listening to the record. The band has reunited with producer Kurt Ballou and John Baizley’s unusual artwork once again adorns the album cover. Kvelertak’s philosophy towards Meir is that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. The record is the same frenzy of catchy riffs and Scandinavian howling that those familiar with the first record will know and love. And I for one couldn’t be happier.

Opening track ‘Apenbaring’ is only two minutes long but is one of the most triumphant sounding openers in recent memory. Whilst Kvelertak haven’t refined their sound they have certainly intensified it. The tracks ‘Trepan’ and ‘Nekrokosmos’ have the blistering pace and long piecing screams long associated with black metal, whilst Bruane Brenn and Kvelertak is party rock at its finest.

Vocalist Erlend Hjelvik is on spectacular form throughout Meir, his howling delivery and drawn out screams give him a lot more presence this time round. The band has once again stuck to their native tongue mainly with lyrics based around Nordic mythology. To some this may be a make or break factor but trust me, give it a chance and you’ll be having too much fun to care what language it’s in.

So is Meir the worthy successor to the debut? I would say so, but it’s not without flaws. The one large flaw in the bands formula is that it works best in short bursts. Tracks such as ‘Nekrokosmos’ and ‘Undertro’ are around seven minutes in lengths and penultimate track ‘Tordenbrak’ is just shy of nine. After five minutes the band runs out of ideas and are content to fill the next three with the same riff. The fact that these three tracks are back to back damages the albums flow considerably. As much as that trio stifles the second half, the rest of the album contains some of the most boisterous, catchy rock tracks you will hear all year.