Cathouse – 22/4


It’s refreshing when genre labels fail you – Kvelertak have imagery that screams black metal; they’ve often been lumped in with groups who perform a type of sludge metal; yet there’re obvious nods to the sort of eighties hard rock which makes them sound like an angrier AC/DC.

Certainly it can be agreed that vocalist Erlend Hjelvik is half-man, half-feral beast. Ominously striding on stage, as a figure he’s imposing enough, but his entrance involves him having an owl (not a real one) on his head and covering his face, with luminous eyes, through which he sings opener ‘Åpenbaring.’

Removing it for ‘Spring Fra Livet’ he’s a lot more ramshackle than the rest of his bandmates. His chest-pounding, arm shaking, foot-on-monitor vocal delivery make him out to be a sort of town crier, if the town crier’s parents were a viking and a bear.

Like Rammstein before them, Kvelertak have achieved success despite not singing very much in English, and like at a Rammstein show, people have a go at joining in. More well known tracks like ‘Kvelertak’ and ‘Mjød’ see people not exactly sing along, but certainly howl along and give it their best shot anyway.

And that sums up the nature of a Kvelertak gig – forget what it means to be underground these days, or what it means to be critically acclaimed in hipster circles – this is very much a fun gig. Arms flailing, bodies moshing, and plenty of “Oi! Oi! Oi!” chants at build ups, it’s all very rock ‘n’ roll.

They’re heavier than AC/DC, but their influence is clearly there. They don’t fit in with Metallica, but you’ll hear thrash metal in the mix. They don’t trudge along as a crushing pace, but you’ll understand why they get paired with the likes of Mastodon. Hell, there’s some hardcore punk in there as well. And it all works.

Kvelertak rock. It’s easy to see why they are lumped with eternal praise, and their shows back up the band’s ferocious albums. If you want to sing along though, best start learning Norwegian.

[Scott Wilson]

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