Kvelertak's follow up to 2013's acclaimed Meir was always going to be a tough one for the band. Needless to say, they have risen to the challenge and gone further than before. Fusing together rock and heavy metal with a death metal vocal frontman Erlend Hjelvik calls it a 'smorgasbord of sound.' The opening feedback from the guitars on Dendrofil for Yggdrasil bleeds into a speed metal drum pattern followed by a primal scream from Hjelvik. Before the track ends, we have heard harmonic duel guitars, retro guitar refrains, and some classic rock high hat crashing. It's like some smart arse mashed up Behemoth with Van Halen.
The conflating continues with the bizarrely brilliant 1985, which is ever so vintage classic rock. You could nearly fool yourself it was a traditional rock song if a very angry Viking wasn't screaming over its retro riff. It's like an MTV battle cry! But mixing it up is exactly what these mad Nordic bastards do so bloody well! Minds are further blown when the guitars kick into full swing for the superb title track which also gives Marvin Nygaard – bass and Kjetil Gjermundrød – drums a real chance to demonstrate the fact that they are more than metal percussion junkies, but proper musos who are adept at switching styles, multiple times in one song. Let's not forget the first class guitar work, including acoustic, from Vidar Landa, Bjarte Lund Rolland and Maciek Ofstad.
More explosive guitar licks come in Bronsegud which begins as The Foo Fighters and ends as Thin Lizzy. Not a clue what Erlend is screaming his head off about, but he seems to be enjoying himself. In fact, it doesn't matter a jot if he's singing about Skol Lager or the Northern Lights, his contagious enthusiasm and the instant air guitar appeal of the track with its triplicate riffs are enough to have you ferociously headbanging along. His phrasing on Ondskapens Galakse is like a death metal Gangnam Style, you can't take it all that seriously. It doesn't help that it is one of the tracks that does struggle to fly, getting stuck in to the groove and safety of a riff rather than breaking away from it. Berserkr more than makes up for the shortcomings of the previous, with dynamic shifting time signatures and one of the most fierce vocal performances from Erlend on the album.
The band is sticking close to their roots by once more incorporating rock, punk, and black metal and have produced their best work to date. There's enough melody and musicianship here to appeal to the hard core classic rock and metal fan. It's easy to focus on the music if power screaming isn't your bag. It's surprising how much instrumentation there is here. As far as synthesizing genres go, Kvelertak does it better than most and are a band a very much drawn to the sound and construction of euphony, and that is undoubtedly part of their appeal.