Kvelertak – Meir
Originally posted on Ghost Cult Magazine’s website on 26/03/2013
Norse trailblazers Kvelertak split open the metal scene with their incendiary self titled debut not to mention a fierce reputation on the live front. A mash up of furious punk rock, searing black metal and rock n’ roll swagger the first record was indeed something very special. Having returned to Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou and God City studios for this sophomore effort Meir contains all the characteristic of what made Kvelertak such a shot in the arm.
Frantic tremolo picking and lush melodies of ‘Spring Fra Livet’ kicks the party off and the rousing ‘Bruane Brenn’ is classic Kvelertak not to mention the best reason to stage dive you may get this year. Erlend Hjelvik’s vocals are still as corrosively intense but the rapturous sing-along’s are also in great abundance.While the band remains blessed with fantastic rock n’ roll hooks regrettably yet there are a couple of tracks which could have been given greater attention.‘Åpenbaring’ has a gorgeous build up riff but finishes to quickly after the vocals have kicked in and the solo in ‘Månelyst’ could happy be extended by a few bars such is the magnetism of its gigantic hooks.
‘Nekrokosmos’ moves away from the garage punk aspects with an almost stoner rock middle section and ‘Undertro’ mixes frostbitten aggression with an almost Thin Lizzy vibe to the guitars.Great musicianship and the seamless melding of musical genres are aspects one expects of Kvelertak by now and while there are some great songs present here just a couple of tracks don’t maintain the lofty standards set by the first album. To follow-up such a groundbreaking debut has clearly been tricky but aside from a couple of half-baked ideas the album is a classy and well rendered affair.
It is a shame to see a couple of small disappointments here and there but when the bar is set so high that can be expected. While Meir may not have the impact its predecessor has had it still contains some fantastic music which may make more sense in the live concert environment. Meir is still a fantastically well written album but this is a tricky transitional record from an undeniably fantastic group.
November 5, 2013 | Categories: ALBUMS | Tags: black metal, Bruane Brenn, Converge (band), Ghost Cult Magazine, God, Kurt Ballou, Kvelertak, Roadrunner Records, Rock music, Ross Baker Journalist, Ross Baker., Rossbaker | Leave a comment
Delusions Of Grandeur – An Interview With Sahg
Originally published on Ghost Cult Magazine’s Website 14/07/2013
“We have toured the U.K. three times this year. We are very pleased with the response we have received here.” Olav, guitarist/vocalist of Norway’s Doom Metal supergroup Sahg, is clearly a fan of venturing across to conquer Britain. Ghost Cult caught up with three of the band members backstage before tearing down Manchester’ NQ Live.
Your new album is due for release in October. What can you tell me about recording it? Does it have a title yet?
Olav: It has a title we are keeping under wraps at the moment. It is not a number. We recorded it in a huge barn in Bergen out in the country. We wanted to capture the live sound of this band and I think we did that. There is a bigger vocal presence with Tony having joined the band too. The recording session only took three days we were well prepared beforehand. We took time writing this record because we have taken a slightly different direction.
I hear the concept from the record is delusions of grandeur. What inspired this?
Olav: The concept is about all of man’s delusions. We are primitive beings with impulses and urges that operate the same way as other animals. We have technology and try to set ourselves up in positions of power but we have the same basic instincts that help us survive. The album is about the way individual’s seek power to better themselves from your boss at work to the way dictators feel they are bigger than god and manipulate the beliefs of their followers to attain wealth and power. We created a story about a normal man’s quest for power who then becomes the ultimate ruler of the universe in his own mind. It is a very relevant concept when you look at what is going on in countries like Egypt and Syria right now.
A lot of your songs seem to derive inspiration from the spiritual and supernatural as well as the primitive impulses of man. What excites you about these topics?
Olav: That part of the human mind. The dark side that shows in us all is a fascinating thing. We are not religious guys but it is important to be fulfilled spiritually. I do believe in mystical forces exist rather than any god.
‘Firechild’ has a bigger sound with more vocal harmonies. Is it a good example of what we can expect from the new record?
Olav: That’s Tony’s input. He sings in other bands too so we wanted to use that. When he joined the band it allowed us to expand our sound and make use of all the harmonies and layers that you will here on the new album. Mixing our two voices has allowed us to experiment. It has made me up my game vocally also. We all sing on certain songs and we wanted to have a more grandiose feel to the music in keeping with the subject matter of the record.
You have gained a lot of high chart positions in Norway. Did that surprise you?
Thomas: I think Norway is different in that we are such a small country so there is less separation between music scenes. More people get exposure to rock and metal music where as it is a more underground thing here. I think it’s great that other countries are waking up to the fact that there is more to Norway than just the Black Metal scene. We love that scene but we wanted to express ourselves in a different way.
Tony: I am glad to be associated with Kvelertak and Audrey Horne as they are very good bands. It seems that kids in Norway are adopting hard music more. A band that plays hard music can be on the chart which is amazing!
Thomas: Those are our delusions of grandeur again!
Thomas (Lönnheim) was in an electro pop band before Sahg. What new element does his playing bring to the band?
Olav: Thomas has played a lot of music but his playing is rooted in the traditional heavy metal style and he was playing with Tony in so we knew each other.
Thomas: I joined Sahg two days after I quit the electro band! I went to my local pub and saw these guys and they asked me to join!
Olav: It was really fortunate actually as we have been looking for a full-time drummer for years. We had Audrey Horne’s drummer Kjetil Greve filling in for us but we wanted someone who could commit more to Sahg. It was a very strange coincidence but he’s a perfect fit for this band. We had auditioned four drummers and then the right one walks into the pub
With acts like Audrey Horne, Kvelertak and you guys coming to prominence it appears the Norwegian music scene been looking for something else other than black metal. Why do you feel this is?
Olav: Norway is a small country so not many people internationally look to us for great music save the Black Metal scene. In Norway a lot of rock music gets played on the radio but here you don’t have that so bands have to tour to get noticed. In Norway it’s not usual for a band like Kvelertak to open for someone like the Foo Fighters. I think it’s great because it allows bands to build themselves up before being introduced to foreign markets. More people are realising that Norway makes many kinds of great music. After the Black Metal boom of the 90s musicians have moved on and want to express themselves with other forms of music. Even people like Ihsahn who were so influential in the genre. Music fans have been looking for something else and we are ready to give it to them!”
You toured recently with Long Distance Calling and Solstafir recently and now your comrades in Audrey Horne all very different bands. How important is it to tour with such different sounding artists?
Olav: It’s great. I think that for each of us having more than one project only enhances our creativity. We all work with different styles so it is not hard switching from writing for one act to the other. We will play with any band from any metal/rock subgenre but not outside of that as I don’t think the audience would get it. We love playing live and want to keep it interesting for ourselves and playing with diverse line ups such as the one you mentioned does that for us.
Thomas: If their audience crosses over with ours then it is doable. It’s like a mini festival. Nothing is more boring than seeing three bands that sound alike on one bill. It’s good to have a challenge for us playing to different types of music fans.
Bergen, Norway appears to be a diverse melting pot for musicians. What makes Bergen so special?
Olav: Bergen is a very close-knit scene with many musicians helping each other out. There are very few pubs which play music so we all went to the same pubs and all the musicians met each other. I think there is a more community spirit in Bergen and Trondheim than in Oslo. We share rehearsal space and when we look for musicians for a project we look within that network. When Audrey Horne was looking for a lead guitarist Ice Dale was the first person they called.
Thomas: Bands in Bergen are very keen to support each other. We don’t see ourselves as completion the way bands from Oslo do. Musicians communicate more and they support each other. If someone needs a musician to tour we look for someone local because everyone knows each other. Kvelertak and Purified In Blood come from that hardcore punk scene and they support each other too!
Olav: Norway has always had a lot of things going on it’s just that Black Metal got so big. Now the Norwegian Metal scene is getting prominence other bands are putting other bands from Norway on the map. The Black Metal scene is still very strong but a lot of those bands are trying different things and experimenting also! A lot of the original Black Metal bands are still together because they experimented and changed.
Olav: Any other projects we have all contributed to have made us better musicians and helped us make Sahg stronger.