Originally released in June 2010 through Indie Recordings, The End Records chose wisely in giving North American release to this self-titled album from Norwegian Black 'N Roll 'N Everything Else superstars KVELERTAK. The six bonus tracks (live recordings, BBC sessions, and demos) are great additions, but the album proper is so friggin' awesome that you'd have bought it without 'em, even if you already owned the Indie Recordings versions. Yeah, it's that good.
So what about the Norwegian black metal part? It's there in a general sense, mainly in the vocals, but more often it's more about shades than fundamentals. "Liktorn" is the one track that is black metal in a pure sense; that is, for the first two minutes at which point the riffing goes traditional and the rollin' and rockin' that defines the preceding tracks returns with uncurbed enthusiasm.
So who do you reference in describing this one then? Let's go with TURBONEGRO, the MC5, and MOTÖRHEAD, which only gets us part way there. Then add a smattering of punk in musical terms and hot dose of it in attitude, as well as a range of 70s rockers, including ELTON JOHN. Seriously, listen to how the main riff on "Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer)" reminds of an alternate version of "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting". Are you following the theme that's forming? It's almost a waste of time to attempt to cram in all the relevant references when all you need to know is that KVELERTAK writes rowdy, edgy, groovy, blackened, metallic rock 'n roll that's more addictive than meth. Well, so much for the word "only" in that sentence. Ah, damn it all to hell; let's just call it "stupendous rock" and be done with it!
The sheer number of great songs on here is the most stunning part about it. Nothing even approaches filler. We can throw a few more out there for the hell of it, but we're doing the unmentioned ones a disservice. "Ordsmedar Av Rang" has more of a melodic hard rock basis; "Blodtørst" moves like two Norwegian bands paying tribute to the NEW YORK DOLLS and THE RUNAWAYS, just pumped full of KVELERTAK steroids; "Sultans of Satan" travels in several directions, all of which end up in a giant vat of boiling rock 'n roll; and the last couple acoustic-led minutes of "Utrydd Dei Svake" could be dropped smack dab in the middle of an ALLMAN BROTHERS jam and no one would be the wiser. If there is one common dominator, it's that every song is designed to get asses out of seats and moving with ritualistic fervor.
As if it makes any difference at this point in the review, the album also features guest appearances by Hoest (TAAKE), Andreas Tylden (JR Ewing and ALTAAR), Ivar Nikolaisen (SILVER), and Ryan McKenney (TRAP THEM), If you've heard it, you'd have already purchased it, regardless of the flavor of cake icing. Then again, any purchase decisions made based on positive reviews of the album at this point are the real icing, as KVELERTAK's winning Norway's Statoil grant (the monetary equivalent of $180,000) has no doubt left the boys in fine financial shape. And they deserve every damn penny of it, provided they make another album like this one.