The hype machine rolled with full force, but it was entirely fuelled by Kvelertak’s music and their visceral live show alone. Punk, metal, hardcore, classic rock and black metal all were unified to sound like nothing else around. And with vocalist Erleèd Hjelvik, Kvelertak had a barrel-chested Viking who possessed a native scream that could raze a village to the ground.
Together with the band’s exotic efforts, John Dyer Baizley created lavish artwork and Kurt Ballou manned the controls, which resulted in a combustible package that received the critical acclaim necessary to land Kvelertak on major metal label.
Flash forward to the present day, and a couple of questions loom large over the Norwegians’ debut for Roadrunner, Meir: How do you follow up a record whose success was founded upon the element of surprise as much as the actual music? Also, how do you survive now that the wolves are at your door...watching and waiting for you to fail? The answer according to Kvelertak is to ignore all expectations and continue to kick out the jams!
And just like their debut, there is an abundance of righteous jams on this sophomore strike. Ramping up the punk rock pace, Meir is a rush of pure adrenaline with each untameable song tussling for the attention of the listener. The band’s confidence is magnetic throughout, and there is urgency to the music that hits hard from the moment the full band kick into life half way through opener “Åpenbaring.”
Tantalizing classic rock licks and neck-snappin’ grooves are tossed out with gusto on “Bruane Brenn” and “Evig Vandrar,” and venomous blasts of black metal are spit into “Trepan.” There is no let up until a song from the end when the psych-flecked “Tordenbrak” sprawls itself across eight minutes, only for the eponymous closer, which lives up to the brazen title placed upon it, to unleash another bout of rock ‘n’ roll brilliance, Kvelertak-style.
Sure, there are high levels of familiarity found within Meir, as the band refuse to stray too far from the sound they created for themselves, as well as the fact that Baizley and Ballou return to add their visual and sonic clout of credibility, respectively. But, at this point in time, why would Kvelertak change their inimitable formula when it works so well?
There is no other band out there at the minute that possesses the songwriting ability to keep the music infectious, memorable and fun, while managing to maintain the essential edge of aggression that heavy metal requires. Kvelertak should hold tight and ride the glory that Meir will surely bring.
Because, as with any band that rises to prominence and is placed on a pedestal, the wolves will breed and bay incessantly for blood. But for now, there is no doubting that Kvelertak deserve the praise, as Meir is an exhilarating and worthy follow up to one of the best debut albums in metal history.
(released March 26, 2013 on Roadrunner Records)