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Meir Michael Dix , March 27th, 2013 07:38

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On their second album Meir (simply, "More"), Stavanger six-piece Kvelertak haven't exactly refined the kitchen sink formula that made their eponymous 2010 debut one of the most welcome surprises of recent years; rather, they've bottled it, destroyed the recipe and knocked back gallons of the stuff like Vikings at a post-pillage feast. The Norse wild-men have thrown together a whole bunch of influences - some heavy, some not so much - that really shouldn't gel as well as they end up doing here and magically turned them into brain-meltingly brilliant hard rock party anthems.

There are probably a dozen metal sub-genres represented in some capacity over the course of Meir's fifty minutes, and whilst you might expect black metal and stoner rock, or folk metal and hardcore punk to coexist about as happily as hungry dogs squabbling over a dropped steak sandwich, they actually end up playing very nicely together. All metallic life is here, from Slayer to GNR to Mastodon to Converge (whose guitarist Kurt Ballou produces), but there are also nods to more mainstream heavy rockers, both past (Thin Lizzy, Aerosmith, Meat Loaf) and present (Foo Fighters, Queens Of The Stone Age), Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac, Slade and melodic pop-punks NOFX, to name but a few. On paper it's a train wreck, a mess of contrasting ideas and opposing ideologies, but these guys make it work, belting out hoarse-throated Cookie Monster vocals and terrace-style group chants over three-part guitar harmonies, thrashy solos and a rhythm section that turns on a dime from grindcore blast beats to glam rock stomp and back again.

This is a band that seem genuinely unconcerned with stylistic boundaries, who would no doubt be just as happy opening for Dave Grohl's Sound City project as they would touring with more obvious contemporaries like Torche or Kylesa; what’s more, you can be sure they would end up converting every crowd into a rabid, rapturous mass of wild-eyed believers.
So, will Meir make Kvelertak one of the biggest metal bands on the planet? Unfortunately, I don't think so. Although it lacks the element of surprise that boosted the debut's stock, Meir is a better, stronger, more accessible record overall; however, while kudos is due to new paymasters Roadrunner for allowing the band to use the same producer and even the same cover artist (Baroness' John Baizley) as before, they might have missed a trick by not insisting they throw a few choruses into the mix for non-Scandinavian fans to scream along to. Are American frat-boys really going to flock to download an album by a band whose name they can't pronounce, whose lyrics they can't understand and whose artwork suggests some kind of Game Of Thrones-fantasy over the English-speaking likes of Darkthrone or close spiritual cousins Turbonegro? Unlikely, but will Kvelertak give a flying fart? Certainly not, and neither should we: it doesn't matter one bit whether they're singing about burning bridges or finding trolls under them, and if you’re going to choose a moniker that doubles up as a battle cry (it translates as “chokehold”), then who can blame them for going full Motorhead and recording a band anthem with the same name?

Besides, coming from a country where heavy metal is basically the music of the gods, Kvelertak are working for a higher power than the global marketplace, and as long as they keep coming up with this awesome AC/DC-meets-Kiss-meets-Metallica racket, with music that feels this vital, then I’d no sooner argue with them than I would with Odin himself. Nobody could question the fact that these guys mean it with every fibre of their being, and Meir is music to make Norway proud; a new majestic fanfare to welcome hog-riding warriors into Valhalla.

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Mar 27, 2013 2:34pm

Kvelertak are a breath of fresh air for extreme metal in my opinion. They don't take themselves to seriously and they're not concerned with genres and whether they conform to some crappy underground zeitgeist. The only way I manage to describe them to friends is "fun-extreme-metal" and I can't think of any other band you could call the same (who aren't shite at any rate!).
'Meir' is still sinking in with me but I'm not sure it holds up to the debut yet. It's slightly more accessible but the sheer number of great riffs aren't. Let's hope it's a grower like the first,

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S Garner
Mar 27, 2013 7:24pm

I am totally psyched about this record, their debut has got to be one of the most unrelentingly fun things i've ever had the pleasure of piping into my ears

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Pavel Godfrey
Mar 27, 2013 7:51pm

I wanted to dislike this review for some reason, maybe just because I'm a dick about metal, but by the last paragraph or two all I felt was STOKED. There must be a Kvelertak-ness to the writing. Nice one man.

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Mar 28, 2013 2:40pm

It took me nearly 2 years to wipe the big shit-eating grin off my face after the first record and now they've put it back on my poor stretched-out face. Is there any band producing music more downright exhilarating than Kvelertak at the moment? I might combust if I find one.

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Mar 30, 2013 1:14am

A flying fart?

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Pedro Henrique
Mar 31, 2013 7:12pm

In reply to Pootay:

Ugh... people here don't know Kvelertak is a Black N' Roll band? And that genre exists? It's not so unkomon bands to make a sound like this, it's unkomon then going mainstream. Still most of Black N' Roll bands are just Black Metal and Hard Rock mixed(sometimes with some Crust Punk in between), Kvelertak is even more variated and inovative than comm'on Black N' Roll bands. I guess, I myself don't know much Black N' Roll bands. xD

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Apr 4, 2013 12:14am

This album was definitely worth the wait. I'm even more pumped to see them live in May!

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Apr 11, 2014 10:06am

Wow!! great review & album, for mooore:

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