Norwegian metal band Kvelertak return with their first new album in almost four years with “Splid,” another worthy addition to their discography of a mosh-worthy blend of hardcore punk, black metal and classic rock. Kvelertak have distinguished themselves in the modern metal scene with these elements, which is no easy feat considering the last decade has been a creative period for metal and other forms of extreme and underground music. This creative resurgence, which thankfully buried the dreaded dreadlock renaissance of 2000s nu-metal, has seen more extreme iterations of the genre come to the forefront of public consciousness with the likes of Behemoth and Deafheaven.
This is currently the prime age where genre labels are meaningless and the quality of the music is meaning much more. With mainstream rock continually losing its bite, many fans of heavier music are forced to look on the fringes for bands pushing the envelope in new and interesting ways. Enter the aforementioned likes of Deafheaven, who marry shoegaze and black metal, Baroness, Dallas natives Power Trip, Ghost and, of course, Kvelertak to revive and refurnish bygone tropes of the genre.
“Splid” exemplifies this resurgence by blessing the listener with a variety of genre-bending experiments between and within songs. “Uglas Hegemoni” has a tempo which wouldn’t be out of place on a Descendants or Bad Religion track, and “Fanden ta dette hull!” balances out the previous track’s manic energy with classic rock riffs drawn from the heyday of 1980s metal. The lulling effect of album highlight “Delirium tremens” is a stylistic departure, but not an unwelcome one. The track builds in a way that musically transcends almost anything Kvelertak has done up to this point.
“Splid” has some of the band’s most melodically complex compositions, yet the energy of the album as a whole never truly lets up. When the album seems as if it is going to allow for a breather, the aggression and chaos almost immediately resume sevenfold. “Splid” succeeds in its genre-bending ambitions and amalgamates tonal shifts of cheeky schlock with the band’s darker black metal roots.
If there are any negatives to be had with the album, it would be its length, though there is never truly a dull moment throughout its duration. The album oscillates between melodic experimentation and the band’s more familiar sound to successful effect, even if not every single element is absolutely necessary. However, even if the album lacks brevity and efficiency, “Splid” is never guilty of delivering filler.
Instead, the listener is offered a delicious plate of your favorite frosted pastry, and you eat one more than necessary to remedy your insatiable craving for said frosted pastry. You would have been fine without it, but then again, why not? At almost one hour of hearty riffs, it is obvious Kvelertak isn’t shooting for succinctness on this project.
On “Splid,” Kvelertak sounds like a band who have just burst onto the scene, fresh with fire and fury in equal measure, coming to scorch and cleanse modern rock of its modern monotony. After three albums over the course of 10 years, Kvelertak are still inventing and progressing despite their already well-earned credibility in the metal community. And for that, in the words of AC/DC’s Brian Johnson: “For those about to rock, we salute you.”