Kvelertak‘s self-titled debut is easy listening. I don’t mean it sounds like Lionel Richie or anything – I mean it’s easy to listen to. It’s like punk-metal’s answer to a beach book – it’s just good, fun entertainment that doesn’t require too much effort or thought. Of course, there’s cotton candy and there’s gourmet candy, and Kvelertak are definitely Godiva. It’s not pop and there’s no reason to feel guilty for liking it, but it’s still bound to put you in a pretty good mood.

As their name would suggest, Kvelertak are Norwegian, and their lyrics are sung entirely in Norwegian – which is kind of an interesting contrast with the music, which is neither brooding nor grim, but, rather, upbeat and vivacious. At the end of the day, Kvelertak really just play a simple, metallicized form of rock n’ roll; it might appeal to the hardcore kids, but would likely strike a stronger note with fans of old Mastodon, Baroness, and their ilk. (That John Baizley supplied the cover art somehow seems less-than-incidental.) Fuck, if not for vocalist Erlend’s black-metal-raw screaming, I’d say the crowd for Kvelertak is probably hipsters and/or Butch Walker fans, or anyone else who is upset that classic rock is dying (or dead, depending on your P.O.V.).

It’s all incredibly energetic, and without fail, incredibly fun. These aren’t Saturday Songs to Get Stoned To so much as they’re Friday Night Bar Fight Anthems. The band makes writing a great hook look easy — any given song on the record could potentially get stuck in your head for days on end — but they have a special talent for building up a song and then just letting it EXPLODE – check out the 0:44 mark on “Mjød,” the first thirty seconds of “Nekroskop,” the 1:33 and the section from 2:21 to 2:52 on “Fossegrim,” or the section around the 1:49 mark of “Blodtørst,” when the band momentarily turns into Tommy-era The Who. (That song also features boogie woogie piano towards the end – which is totally fucking awesome, and more bands should try.)

I’ve been looking for some good warm weather music since April; Kvelertak easily quenches that thirst. Of course, I can’t understand what the fuck they’re singing about, so many the whole album is about coat hanger abortions and the raping of jugular wounds and blah blah blah, but it sure doesn’t sound that way; Kvelertak, the band and the album, are the sound of a good mood. An aggressive mood, sure – but a good one.

Stream the entirety of Kvelertak’s self-titled album here.


(four outta five horns)


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