I was uncertain what to expect of Kvelertak’s promising third album Nattesferd. On listening to the three singles, it was not clear what direction this album would take. Transcending genres, especially contradicting genres is a trademark of these peculiar Norwegians and each song opposes the next stylistically. ‘1985’, ‘Berserkr’ and ‘Heksebrenn’, show variety, moving from cruising 80’s Rock to NWOBM to an almost amusingly offensive pop-progrock, that is sure to challenge the most rigid metalheads.
A noticeable change in the songwriting leaves a distinctive tainting on almost every track. The diversity shown in the three singles perfectly represents the album as a whole. Every song beholds another surprise.
Most people will not understand the lyrical content, regardless of Erlend Hjelvik screeching vocals, as it is transported in their native language. This time the words are printed in the booklet following a one sentence summary in English. Norse mythology, historic events and grim futuristic outlooks are once again thematised. First off, the whole album is delicately produced, emphasizing the overall dirty and grim rock’n’roll/black metal vibe. The drums are not too intrusive, Kjetil Gjermundrød plays in the pocket and keeps everything moving, each of the guitars have their own distinguishable sound.
It is refreshing to hear the little imperfections like fingers leaving the strings, feedback or in-studio conversations at the end of certain tracks. The production does well to blend the many elements, like the tuba and horn which are underlining the opening track ‘Dendrofil For Yggbrasil’, but the more you listen to it, the easier it gets to pick out the little things. And you will listen to it repeatedly, because Kvelertak’s vision and musicianship has evolved. Big time. After the energetic levels of the first two albums, comparable to a hyperactive ferret on cocaine, the predictable evolution is for them to calm the fuck down. The results: beautiful and gloriously snotty.
‘Ondiskapen Galask’e and ‘Heksebrann’ show that the band can direct their energy in a more subtle fashion while holding onto their integrity. The general tenor of this album is still superbly snotty, gritty, fast and spiked with that partly oriental, partly blues flavoured guitar-trio, although NWOBM riffage is definitely more present.
Listening to Kvelertak is an invigorating experience. It makes you want to ride a giant warthog into battle, screaming at the top of your lungs. Nattesferd is not for the metalhead who is obsessed with the purity of the genre. The blending of black metal and classic rock (which made Kvelertak stand out in the first place) was enough to make these metalheads choke on their beer, but now with Nattesferd, Kvelertak are effortlessly pushing the boundaries even further. Happily leaping through rock and metal history, they have picked up more elements to simmer in this ecstatic broth. 5/5
Kvelertak Nattesferd is out now via Roadrunner Records. You can order your digital copy on the graphic link below.
© OVERDRIVE 2016