KVELERTAK…. Nordic Hordes from the Fjords…… Review by Justin Buzzcrusher

Kvelertak Album Cover Painting by John Dyer Baizley

CD…Self Titled/2011/Indie Recordings
DVD… Bonus Video Features/ 2011/ Indie Recordings



Kvelertak Celebrates A Gold Record for "KVELERTAK" Unit Sales!!! Photo by Mads Maurstad


Erlend Hjelvik (lead vocal)
Bjarte Lund Rolland (guitar)
Maciek Ofstad (guitar)
Vidar Landa (guitar)
Marvin Nygaard (bass)
Kjetil Gjermundrød (trommer)

Sound the Horn of Warning and beat the Drums of War !!! Pagan Heathens are invading  and the beaches of Auditorium Shores will shake with fear under their advancing juggernaut of madness and mayhem.  KVELERTAK ( Norwegian for “choke hold” or “stranglehold”)  are a 6 piece machination of intensity and power. This self titled  CD came out in the states in 2011. And , as is too often the case, I am apparently the LAST person to join the fray that is KVELERTAK. Thanks to my good friend, Jim Richardson, I found out about these Norwegian miscreants.

Photo by Mads Maurstad

The first song on this record is ” Ulvetid ” (Wolf Time) ~ 3:29.  From the first bite, “Ulvetid” tears into your aural senses and chews you up. No warning, no hope for survival. The opening vocal attack is only matched by the heart pumping drums. The legend of the wolves, Skoll and Hate, that devour the sun and moon, triggering the advent of Ragnarok ( the Norse Apocalypse) by creating the harsh winter (Fimbulwinter) that precedes the End Of Times, Viking style !! This record throws subtlety out the window and slams it shut.

Photo by Marius Viken Photography

My intro to KVELERTAK was the video for  the second song   “Mjod”  (Mead) ~ 2:30 . And like the honey and water based libation the song is named for, “Mjod” is deceptively sweet for the first few sips, releasing  catchy and hypnotic riffs  . Next, the song warms and dulls the senses with rhythmic guitars and drums. Then “Mjod” hits the fever pitch with flagrant disregard for reason or convention. ” Fossegrim ” ~ 3:32 , the Black Magician in the forest that grants a wish to a mortal. A wish that comes with a price, perhaps the ultimate sacrifice? Perhaps akin to the American folktale of  Robert Johnson selling his soul to the Devil at the Crossroads. He would forever play the guitar with an unearthly talent, but lost his soul to the Devil in the deal.

Photo by Mads Maurstad

The formula for this record includes simultaneous punches to the face and kicks to the nether regions. Causing inescapable pain , yet leaving the listener wanting the sonic beat down to continue. Some guitars are strumming, muddy masses of gut punching proportion, others are layered and punched in as cleanly and fluidly as you please.

Photo by Lars Johanson

Blodtorst” (Blood Thirst) ~ 3:37~  is a saga of godly proportions that regale us with the story of The Snake King of Nifelheim, that sups on the blood of dead humans. All while the life giving Worldtree , Yggdrasil , fights the ranks of snakes bent on destruction of the living. The accompanying video for “Blodtorst” is an animated orgy of EVERYTHING that comes to my mind when I think of our Nordic neighbors : ” MEAD, HORNS, WEAPONS, BLOOD, MEAD, SHIPS, MEAD” !!!!

Offernatt” (Offering Night) ~ 4:29  follows with the summoning of Hell. Mortals gather to create a portal for the planes of Hell to be unleashed here on Earth. The smell of warm human blood is only a little more intense than the screams of the human sacrifices as they are forced to die slowly on the makeshift altar in the dark forest. “Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer)” ” (Sea Hyenas (Lords of the Sea))” ~ 4:50~ , is another trip  through Nordic lore, and warns of the Sjøhyenar, the hyenas of the Seas. The voracious razor toothed black beasts from the deep dark depths of the ocean. “Sultans of Satan” ~ 4:35~ are the Dark Riders of The Apocalypse, guiding their steeds through every earthly element in their hunt for the Christ. ” Sultans..” is a lesson in the power of chord and tempo changes. Shifting from a groovy trot to a hell bent gallop is as natural to KVELERTAK as the stars are to the sky. The boys even throw some theremin into the mix.

Metal Sucks Showcase from the CMJ Music Festival. NYC, USA

And that is a good example of the erratic blend of styles and influences that always keep the listener guessing where it might go next….. “Nekroskop” (Book of The Dead) ~ 5:10 ~ is a tried and true mix of the wall of sound created by KVELERTAK , the seething vocals sung in Norwegian accentuate the atonal yet melodic backdrop of “Nekroscop“.  The wild ride through the fjords and peaks of Norway would not be complete without an account of the sadistic tricks and deception of the Norse Half God, Loki. We hear this in ” Liktorn” ~ 5:35~. This time the trick is on Hod, the blind brother of Baldr. Baldr was the second son of Odin, a fair and deeply loved soul. Loki tricks Hod into shooting his brother, Baldr, with a mistletoe arrow. Mistletoe was the only Earthly substance that could hurt Baldr.

The godess Frigga, wife of Odin and queen of Asgard, demanded an oath of all Earthly things, to never harm Baldr. Except mistletoe, which Frigga believed to be too young to swear an oath of any kind. So Baldr is trapped in Helheim, the Norse Land of the Dead. The world finally accepts that he is dead, thanks to the lies and deceit of Loki, that little bastard !

Art by Marius Meyer

This saga draws to a close with “Ordsmedar av Rang” (Word forger of class/rank) ~ 4:27~.  The uber potent  Thor, Norse god of lightning, wielding his mighty hammer (named Mjöllnir) to battle brigand trolls whilst chiseling lyrics into earthly stone for KVELERTAK to put to their proprietary blend of black metal,  punk rock, rock and roll and other various styles of musical chaos. This romp through the Norse lore and mythology is culminated with “Utrydd Dei Svake” (Eliminate the Weak) ~ 6:22~ A tongue in cheek take on a KVELERTAK brand of Darwinism:  “everyone, except for KVELERTAK , is sent to Helheim (Hell) to spend eternity bobbing up and down in rivers of urine.”  Ha !! Take that humanity !!!
KVELERTAK are no flash in the pan band, man. These cats have their method down tight.
Using everything from pianos to cowbells , guitars to drums , they create such a unique and urgent style that is at once a frontal attack, yet also a seductive blend and full musical pallete. From the ground up, this record utilizes so many styles and influences, that it makes the head spin.


The audio bonus tracks are:

  1. “Fossegrim” (live) – 3:25
  2. “Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer)” (live) – 4:33
  3. “Blodtørst” (live) – 3:43
  4. “Mjød” (live) – 2:58
  5. “Ordsmedar av Rang” (2009 demo) – 4:03
  6. “Utrydd Dei Svake” (2008 demo)– 6:36


The DVD includes these Bonus Video Features :
Mini Documentary: ” Making The Record :  At God City Studios ”
Videos : ” Mjod “, Making Of…. and Commentary
Ordsmedar av Rang
Live From Samfundet 2010: ” Nekroskop”
                                                            ” Offernat”
                                                             ” Liktorn”

********************* Justin Buzzcrusher *************************

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