Nowadays, it may seem like bands have exhausted new sounds and resorted to Frankenstitching different genre signifiers together, a you-put-your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter method of musicmaking that sounds wacky on paper — and forced and awkward coming out of the speakers. But every once in awhile, a band manages to form a sound forged from stylistic cut-and-paste that makes the original genre conventions sound lame and stifling by comparison. Exhibit A is the strange alchemical combination of pure '70s-swagger riffola and charred black metal that is the sonic stamp of Norway's Kvelertak. In fact, this sextet performs such intricate stitchwork in their Mayhem-meets-Thin Lizzy blastforce that it's kind of hard to tell where one style ends and the other begins.
Kvelertak's missives come packaged in dark roiling paeans to Norse gods and demonic urges, filled with screamed yearnings and frantic warnings. All of which is probably abundantly clear to their fellow Norwegian hessians but less so to their increasing international followers, because their music has heretofore been sung entirely in their native tongue. "Happy-Tom from Turbonegro advised us to start singing in English," lead singer Erlend Hjelvik explains when asked if the band has ever felt pressure to slip into English. "Fortunately, we're not that good at listening to people. We feel that having songs in Norwegian adds a certain mystique; I never even put out the lyrics, so there's a lot of weird interpretations of our songs out there. It's pretty funny to us."
Hjelvik feels that, even though his lyrics are well considered and tell a story, in the end the words themselves are rendered unnecessary by the overall Kvelertak experience. "You tap into something primitive when you listen to heavy music. Or at least that's how it feels for me when I'm up on stage. I mean, we don't plan things out or anything, we just like to rock out. For us, it's awesome to go to the States, and some dudes in Texas are screaming along with music in Norwegian." Kvelertak, live or on record, can be enveloping and throttling — not surprising, considering the band's name means "chokehold" in their native tongue.
Kvelertak just wrapped up sessions for their follow-up to their 2010 self-titled debut with Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou at his GodCity Studio in Salem. Promising to up the ante in terms of pure rock fury, Hjelvik assures that the new record (due in March) "is both heavier and catchier than the first record." But still intact is the musical diversity that is the band's calling card. "We listen to a lot of different music; Bjarte [Lund Rolland, guitarist/songwriter] steals from everything from the Beach Boys to Burzum! We just keep trying to push our own boundaries."
KVELERTAK + CONVERGE + TORCHE + WHIPS/CHAINS :: Royale, 279 Tremont St, Boston :: November 12 @ 7 pm :: 18+ :: $16 :: 617.338.7699 or boweryboston.com
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