Norwegian band Kvelertak, known for their unique blend of punk energy, black metal undertones, and classic rock reverence, make a spellbinding return with their latest album, Endling.
Thematically, Kvelertak's Endling picks up where the critically acclaimed 2020 release, Splid left off, looking further and deeper into the rich tapestry of local folklore and legend. Guitarist Vidar Landa captures the essence of the album's theme, explaining, "On Endling, we tell the stories of the extinct and dying men and women of Norway. Old and new myths, culture, and rituals come to life - the folklore that doesn't fit a TV series concept. Vikings and trolls are for television. This is the real deal."
"'Skoggangr' was the first song we wrote for Endling. It's a song about Helmut Von Botnlaus, whose life history and written records have inspired many of the lyrics on the album," the band elaborates. "It all takes place in the heathlands and mountain area of the south-west coast of Norway, where Helmut was born. This is where he spent most of his secluded life, living off what the earth can provide him with while fighting anyone trying to destroy the surrounding nature. Wind turbine and real estate developers, look out!"
Then there’s the title track, which kicks off with a guitar hook “that could have been picked up at a First Avenue show during a U.S. tour… culminating in a Queen-like crescendo of harmonic guitar leads,” the band proclaims. The track serves as a poignant requiem for the destruction of nature and the tragic destinies of our time. Or, as the band puts it, "Trusting silver-tongued modernity only ends in a trunk full of fury and unspent wealth drugged in a rut behind you on your certain journey across the river Gjöll.” That’s some heavy shit!
Kvelertak, which translates to "stranglehold" in Norwegian, was formed in Stavanger in 2007. The band's lineup includes vocalist Ivar Nikolaisen, guitarists Vidar Landa, Bjarte Lund Rolland, and Maciek Ofstad, bassist Marvin Nygaard, and drummer Håvard Takle Ohr. Erlend Hjelvik, a founding member and lead singer, departed from the group in 2018, making way for Nikolaisen to step into the spotlight.
The band's music predominantly features Norwegian lyrics, drawing inspiration from a wide spectrum of genres, including rock n' roll, black metal (they are from Norway after all), and punk rock. They released their self-titled debut in 2010, followed by Meir in 2013, Nattesferd in 2016, and Splid in 2020, marking the band's first release with Nikolaisen as the lead vocalist. With Endling, Kvelertak continue to push boundaries and challenge fans with their distinctive and genre-blurring sound. With the sun setting and oxen unyoked, the marauders of rock have returned, boldly declaring, "Kielland is dead, long live Kielland!" And I'm not gonna argue with them.