Never did I ever think I’d ever review a band whose sound has Black Metal anywhere in its description. Especially a Norwegian Black Metal band, as that country seems to export the most popular to black metal bands. Kvelertak have found the perfect loophole in my distaste for the extreme metal genre, with the subgenre (that actually seems to exist) called “black ‘n’ roll” which, as the title would imply, is a blending of black metal and rock and roll. That’s why I was drawn to their new album Nattesferd.
Basically, all of the vocals on Nattesferd are harsh screaming vocals, similar to that of a black metal band. But Kvelertak find different ways in each song to make the music sparkle with all kinds of hard rock sounds. Take the opening track “Dendrofil For Yggdrasil”. It actually starts off quite intense, with fast extreme metal drumming, as if to please fans of black metal, but with breaks in the intensity to make room for catchy hard rock riffs and breakdowns that calm things down a bit, and a prolonged instrumental ending that emphasizes the unique hard rock instrumentation and its main riff (which is the way a few songs on Nettesferd end) it is clear that this is something different and special.
The music plays the biggest part in every track on Nattesferd. Suffice to say the vocals take a huge back seat, as there aren’t any clean lead vocals to speak of, and though they do change slightly from song to song, this will probably be the last, or second to last time I mention the vocals during this entire review. Kvelertak‘s abilities from a music standpoint are shown on just about every track. “Ondskapens Galakse”, for instance, easily has the best riff on the entire album, and the rhythm and structure of “Svartmesse” could compete with the best hard rock bands songs.
Most of these songs so far have been relatively average paced, with mid-tempo rhythms. Kvelertak do get experimental with how they change things up intensity-wise. For instance, “Berkserkr” is the fastest song on Nattesferd. Not in an extreme metal kind of way, but in more of a Motörhead kind of way, only with a little more concentration on the music. And like all of Nattesferd‘s best songs, the song has many change ups. “Bronsegud” also has a similar intensity, only in a shorter time span. On an album where all but three songs are over five minutes in length, “Bronsegud” is just under three-minute time frame adds to the song’s uniqueness. There is also the “hey” chants heard throughout the song which are all in good fun, as well as an honest to God brief as hell couple of moments where clean vocals are heard. On the other side of the scale, closing track “Nekrodamus” serves as the slowest paced song on the album. It’s a very Black Sabbath sounding riff, which leads into what I can best describe as a doom metal inspired track.
Speaking of how long the songs on Nattesferd can be, Kvelertak sure saved some of their best moments for the album’s longest track. The nine-minute “Heksebrann” has just so many things blended into one to make it a fantastic track. First off, all there is the three-minute long introduction, which features some more of the best riffs on the album, serves as an overture of what to expect throughout the rest of the song. We’re also treated to great and superbly effective acoustic guitars as well as a chorus that is kind of jangly and fun. It has a hook to it thanks to the clean backing vocals. Frankly, this is the perfect long song. It’s not long for the sake of drowning minutes of the album. Just about every second sounds like it matters to the band.
Kvelertak‘s two best songs on Nattesferd are its title track and “1985″. The latter of the two tracks is the leading single from the album, and what a good choice it was. It is the most pop sounding song from the album, which would probably leave a bad taste in the mouths of extreme metal enthusiasts, but from a songwriting perspective, just about every moment of the song has a hook to it that can stick in your head. I mentioned that some of the songs have an ending that just seems to play on and on, repeating the riffs over again as though to emphasize just how different Kvelertak can be, well “1985″ has what seems like the longest outro on the album. The title track “Nattesferd” serves as “1985”‘s superior in the way its music is more true to the rest of the album, but yet it seems to step things up a notch. With a high-energy pace and yet another great riff, plus more acoustic guitars that just add so much effectiveness, this song is just about as special as “Heksebrann” is to the album, only instead of being nine minutes, it’s five minutes.
So it is kind of needless to say that I’m a fan of the songs on Nattesferd. I don’t know how many “black ‘n’ roll” bands exist. Wikipedia lists a small handful others, some include Vreid and Khold. I’ve yet to listen to what they sound like. Maybe their stuff is just as good, maybe even better, but one thing is for sure, Kvelertak have easily released one of the best metal albums of the year, right up there with Megadeth‘s Dystopia. Actually forget “metal” albums, both albums are probably the two best of any genre to come out this year.
Thanks for reading!
9.5 (Out of 10)
|1.||“Dendrofil for Yggdrasil”||5:40|