WORDS: TIM BIRKBECK | PHOTOS:
Rock and roll has always been about going against the grain and breaking away from the norm. Even within the realms of the rock and roll there are those who buck the trend and and carve out their own path. Normally it is these renegades that stand out from a crowd for not fitting into a pigeon hole or just producing something that makes people stand up and pay attention.
This is the category which Norwegian heavy hitters Kvelertak fall into. Form the bands inception in 2007 they have always played to the beat of their own drum, but it is this originality which has seen them generate a loyal fan base which still continues to grow.
With the release of their fourth record Splid, the evolution of Kvelertak continues to grow, from the band who would play party rock to now producing a record full of heart and melody but still has the fun elements people have come to love.
“WE ARE A SERIOUS BAND THAT DOESN’T TAKE OURSELVES TOO SERIOUSLY.”
Guitarist Vidar Landa explains: “We have always wanted to be a bit more rock focused, rather than it just being a metal record or it having more punk elements, we have always been drawn to the more classic rock elements of music, so that is something that we wanted to bring to this record.
“The melodies and guitar harmonies has always been a key focus of what Kvelertak is, so of course that is going to be a big focus, but we were able to put a range of different elements into the pot.”
With the six-piece becoming known for their epic guitar riffs throughout their music, it would be an easy assumption to make that when it comes to recording that the band would have some long, deep conversations about how the record is going to be constructed. “We kind of stopped having too many reference points as to when we go into a record because it always comes out sounding differently from what we initially planned,” Landa continues.“And that is what we find exciting ourselves because we are able to do what we want for ourselves and we never give ourselves any boundaries and I think on this record people are starting to really understand what we are all about. The new record seems to be well received from all the audience at the moment and that is all we can ask for.”
Even though Splid has a distinctively Kvelertak sound, it is as much about new beginnings as it is about carrying on the bands legacy.
Since the bands last recorded offering of Nattesferd one of the bands founding members and vocalist Erlend Hjelvik left the band. Enter Ivar Nikolaisen, the man who had the job of filling Hjelvik’s rather big shoes. However, if there was any worries about how the new man would fit in, they were instantly swept under the carpet once people saw Nikolaisen holding his own live and it generated a buzz of excitement about what the new material with the new vocalist would sound like. With a home life which involved Nikolaisen squatting in log cabins in the woods just outside of Oslo and living off poach trout and drinking beer, it is these lived experiences which have now transferred across into Splid.
“I FEEL ON THIS ALBUM WE ARE STILL US DO WHAT WE ALWAYS DO, BUT IT’S FRESH.”
Landa continued: “I feel on this album we are still us doing what we are always doing but it feels fresh. With all the changing of members and going through that process it reignited a spark in us and some of that energy has made it into the record.
“With Ivar coming in he has a much wider range to his vocals, which has allowed us to play around with melodies.”
He adds: “When we came to writing this record Ivar was involved every step of the way and it gave us more scope to play with different sounds.
“You will hear on the record there are tracks where there is more clean singing, which is something that we haven’t really toyed with before, but because of Ivar’s range it has allowed us to bring this into our sound.”
And it is not just the changing of members which has given the band a fresh feel. The artwork for Splid shows a face with a bird growing from it, some could interpreted as a nod to Hjelvik’s old owl head piece he used to wear on stage, but for Landa, he believes the artwork is an extension of this new birth of the band.
He continues: “When we are working with an artist we always leave a lot of the interpretation to them, but there are certain things that we always want to keep, like the inclusion of bird etc. “On this record for me the egg at the centre symbolises the fresh start and a rebirth that we have had as people.”
And it is this rebirth which for Kvelertak has seen them emerge from some of the darker subjects that they are singing about on this record. Landa concludes: “There still may be the party elements on this record, and because we are singing in Norwegian what we are singing is always clear, but there are some darker themes that run throughout this record.
“We are a serious band that doesn’t take ourselves too seriously.”
Splid Is Out Now Via Rise Records.