Album Review: Kvelertak - Splid
Reviewed by Tim Finch
A quiet, somewhat muted guitar sound rises in the distance, the repeating riff slowly gets louder, closer to the listener. Repeating and repeating it grows, it gives a sense of warmth, it pulls the listener in. The urgency rises, the drums kick in, the pace increases and increases. By the time Ivar Nikolaisen vocal scream kicks in the listener is 1 minute 50 seconds into this track and fully invested in the music.
The opening to Kvelertak’s new album is gripping, a magnificent introduction as to what’s to come. The band had somewhat of a cult following up until 2017, at that point ten years into their career they had three full length albums and reasonably sized tours under their belts. Then Metallica took them under their wing, they toured arena’s with the band across Europe and the secret of Kvelertak that the cult following had been guarding was out there for the world to admire.
Valentines Day 2020 see’s the release of the bands forth studio album, Splid. Their first album in four years and the first to feature new vocalist Nikolaisen. It’s also the first to feature a handful of lyrics in English as they delve into topics including western gluttony, their own stupidity, and the abyss of the earth.
Second track on the album, ‘Crack of Doom’ features a guest appearance from Troy Sanders of Mastodon. It picks up where the introduction left off in sound. The song a mix of post hardcore, metal and a feeling of stoner rock and touches on the aforementioned gluttony subject. The sound of the album remains a constant until we are hit with ‘Bråtebrann’, a punchy punk infused number to start which expands into an epic six minute classic rock ballad with accompanying choral-esq chorus’ and rampant prog fuelled guitar medleys.
‘Delirium Tremens’ stands out, weaving it tale in Norwegian lyrics, but you do not need to understand them to follow along. The music of this eight minute behemoth does the talking, a softly spoken start point soon grows into a heavy metal monster of raging riffs and vocals, and an end point verging on thrash metal with accompanying screams. Quite the masterpiece aurally.
The album overall demonstrates the growth of the band, both musically and personally. If the listener invests the time in it, the rewards they reap will be tenfold. Will it be a main stream breakthrough album? Probably not. But it is sure to lapped up by both the original cult following and the new fans won over on that huge arena tour.
Kvelertak release 'Splid' via Rise Records on February 14th.