2. Spring Fra Livet
4. Bruane Brenn
5. Evig Vandrar
Opening to the roaring drone of guitar feedback and switching into drive with a group shout in their native Norwegian tongue, it’s no wonder why the hotly anticipated sophomore record from black n’ roll group Kvelertak is titled Meir (or ‘More‘ in English). Meir‘s opening moments are fairly analogous to the opening of their lauded 2010 self-titled debut despite a slow and savory build-up, and the parallels don’t stop there. Timeless rock and roll riffs writhing out from a wall of guitars and pounding uptempo rhythms fit for the drunkest and sweatiest of moshes fills Meir‘s nearly 50-minute runtime. This, paired with their noticeable black metal and hardcore influences, often paints Kvelertak as a modernized version of AC/DC raised on underground Scandinavian extreme metal. While Meir isn’t much of a departure, it succeeds on sheer virtue of being a new Kvelertak record.
After signing to major label Roadrunner Records, it would be easy to be skeptical of new output out of fear of label influence; it’s a story told all too often before, where bands move up the ladder of success and subsequently lose that spark that put them on the map in favor of commercial appeal. These fears are completely unfounded in Kvelertak, who formulated an album not only as boisterous as their debut, but nearly as defiant. The pressure might be on to sing in English and adopt a few clean choruses, but nary a word of English or a shoehorned pop vocal hook can be found on Meir.
In fact, one could say that Meir was created as a carefully planned attempt at replicating their previous success for their newly found wider audience. Even the personnel associated with Meir mirrors that of the self-titled debut. Artwork by John Dyer Baizley once again emblazons the cover (though lacking a certain character) and production duties have been returned to Converge‘s Kurt Ballou with stellar results. Ballou’s raw production style helps to accentuate Kvelertak’s earthy sound that could have been lost with someone with a more digitally-based and polished sound. Finding a mix that makes every member of this loud six-piece — which features a trio of guitarists often playing three-part harmonies — sound this balanced and (reasonably) clean must not be an easy task, and in that regard, Ballou succeeds.
So it’s more or less established that Meir is essentially just eleven other fun modern rock songs that are as catchy as they are free of guilt. The band can’t be faulted for that, but there isn’t much in the way of new ideas brought to the table to increase the band’s sonic palate. Rushes of blackened tremolo picking and blasts, crust punk ferocity, and classic rock guitar leads all come in spades. Meir isn’t just the work of a rock and roll one trick pony though; to write off Kvelertak as merely a party band would be a disservice to their craft. At first glance, longer tracks like ‘Nekrokosmos‘ and ‘Undertro‘ may have potential to be a derivative and repetitive rock anthem, but the band intelligently uses the 6+ minute runtimes building and alternating through harmonic themes and cycling them into more introspective territory with psychedelic undertones through both songs. Fucking smart.
Though familiar, this new batch of songs unfortunately doesn’t have the same potency that turned heads two years ago. Kvelertak was so over-the-top that Meir feels less powerful in comparison. This is still a ballsy yet unoffensive followup that will translate well to the stage however, where audiences will be too stoked (and drunk?) to care that they can’t understand what they’re shouting along to — or even notice what song is playing. Meir might not be as immediately arresting as Kvelertak, but to echo the sentiments made in our review of the band’s debut, this album is still GOOD!
Kvelertak – Meir gets…