The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019, #14: Kvelertak, Kvelertak

  • Axl Rosenberg

MetalSucks recently polled nearly 180 prominent metal musicians and industry insiders to determine The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019! (You can read all about the voters and the methodology behind the poll here.) Over the next few weeks, we’ll be counting down the entire list, one entry per day.

The countdown continues today with Kvelertak’s eponymous 2010 debut (Indie Recordings)!

You cannot listen to Kvelertak and be in a bad mood. It is simply not possible. Crystal meth wishes it could release as much dopamine as Kvelertak. Even when the album is being angry — and it certainly doesn’t want for aggression — it’s a fucking feel-good listen.

How’d the Norwegian band do it? They fermented all the most fun, most gleefully obnoxious bits from 50+ years of rock n’ roll history into one delicious gutrot that somehow seems to please everyone, even though that’s not supposed to be possible. It sounds like Lemmy and Angus and Malcolm Young all put on corpse paint and started a hardcore band specializing in classic rock covers.

But Kvelertak isn’t, like, all in your face about how many different genres it contains. It doesn’t need to tell you it’s the coolest dude in the room — it knows how fuckin’ dope it is. So it just does its thing, segueing casually and organically from black metal to punk to victorious Viking sing-alongs to Southern rock to whatever the fuck else the band felt like playing. Kurt Ballou’s production is characteristically full of dirt and bristles, but everything sounds just bright enough to remain inviting. Like I said, Kvelertak is a feel-good listen; you can mosh to it or you can just shake your money maker, but you can’t remain sedentary. It’s destructive, but in a joyous way. It’s not here to help you with a cathartic fantasy in which you murder [Name of the Person You Hate Most], it’s here to take you out and show you the best night of your life that you will never ever remember and it’s not gonna let you go home ’til you’ve puked at least three times.

The point is that while any simple verbal description of Kvelertak’s music will make it sound like complete and utter madness, the miracle of the album is that all of these disparate influences synthesized into one great goddamn party record that won’t just blow the roof off, it’ll flatten the building. (Like, literally, buildings cannot contain this band.) It is easily one of the most self-assured debuts not just of the decade, but of the century. In fact, I’d argue Kvelertak have not, to date, topped it. Uptown problems, right?

The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019:

#25: Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas, Mariner (2016)
#24: Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones (2010)
#23: Pig Destroyer, Book Burner (2012)
#22: Yob, Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)
#21: The Black Dahlia Murder, Ritual (2011)
#20: Mastodon, Once More ‘Round the Sun (2014)
#19: At the Gates, At War with Reality (2012)
#18: Meshuggah, Koloss (2012)
#17: Gorguts, Colored Sands (2012)
#16: Between the Buried and Me, The Parallax II: Future Sequence (2012)
#15: The Ocean, Pelagial (2013)

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