Do you believe in the power of rock n roll?
The Scandinavians do. From black metal to gonzoid rock n roll they have consistently been at the front of noise action for years. Whilst the rest of Europe gets distracted by fashion the Scandinavians have honed the dark arts down to perfection.
Kvelertak (Norwegian for stranglehold) are the latest gung ho rock n roll crew to swagger our this icey corner of Europe and look set to destroy at the festivals this summer just like their nearest cousins Turbonegro did a few years ago.. ( In the mid eighties I met the Turbonegro guys before they were in band. We met at a Big Black gig in Manchester and I put them up in my rented house. On the way home we carved a swatika with a hunting knife onto the marble plate outside the local conservative club and got caught by the cops… ah the madness of youth… )
The Kvelertak gig was an astonishing 30 minutes that demolished the audience into a massed and frenzied pit. This is a band at the height of their powers who instinctively understand every great trick in rock n roll and put them all into one song after another.
Formed four years ago in Stavanger, the band’s churning, powerhouse set is built around three guitars and a powerful rhythm section. This puts them in the great tradition of Scandinavian powerhouse party show bands like the Hellacopters, Turbonegro or Gluecifer. Only this time, apart from great audience interaction, there is less show and more lowdown, grimy, oozing rock n roll, a rock n roll that was first delivered on last year’s debut album. There are also elements of Satyricon and Darkthrone in there as well as the uber grind of black metal and the release of old school punk rock.
Kvelertak have also added the fierce raw power from hardcore, the volume of real pig iron rock and the loose abandon of prime time, groin exchange rock n roll. They also understand that building a band up from the shit tight rhythm section that harks back to AC /DC is a true rock n roll foundation.
They dress down, like lank haired rock pigs straight off a tour bus in yesterday’s tour shirts but when they crank up the decibels they sound like one of the best rock bands on the planet right now. They nail the drop downs, the incessant riffing and the clever tension building dynamics before the release . Their songs are hypnotic and last well beyond the five minute mark and are hypnotising in their primal ooze. They also have twin guitar lead breaks that hark back to primetime Thin Lizzy but their incessant wall of sound and ferocious power sees them bang up to date when the only rock music that really works understands the fierce power of hardcore.
With songs that are super catchy and the vocals that are fantastically guttural they understand the filth and the ooze of rock n roll played from the crotch and have the venue jumping to their anthemic filthy wall of sound.
Frontman Erland is a captivating presence, his primal scream singing tears out lyrics in Norwegian that range from deceptively dumb to touching on viking mythology. It matters little to an English ear though what language the words are in, you can feel their intent.
Kvelertak are going to tear the European festivals apart this summer. This is the party band for anyone who likes a dirty, fucked up party and a party to celebrate all that’s great about R n R.
A dose of this filthy action is just what we all need right now.