ALBUM REVIEW: Kvelertak – Splid

Release Date: February 14th 2020
Label: Rise Records


Norwegian sextet Kvelertak have always been a tough group to pin down, with their melting pot of styles, their punk energy, and their experimental tendencies driving their records.

With fourth record ‘Splid’ not only formally introducing new vocalist Ivan Nikolaisen but also their first for Rise Records, the group have doubled down on their progressive influences and streamlined their sound.

Gently unfolding the record, ‘Rogaland’ brims with fuzzed out melodies and a building pace. Building the urgency with lurching bass lines, the track and Nikolaisen erupt in a flurry of punk bite and duelling melodies.

Whilst ‘Rogaland’ delivers a wide and anthemic sound whilst retaining the band’s spitfire attitude, ‘Crack Of Doom’ sinks its teeth into dirty riffs and juddering rhythms. With guitarists Vidar Landa, Maciek Ofstad, and Bjarte Lund Rolland leading the charge against the duelling vocalists of Nikolaisen and Troy Sanders of Mastodon, the track delivers bouncing energy and grooves.

As the record progresses, the energy keeps pushing further and further whilst giving space to a plethora of influences; from the loose drum fills that pepper the thrash influenced ‘Necrosoft’ to the classic rock infused ‘Fanden Ta Dette Hull!’, a track that switches from straight rock to rapid fire thrash in seconds.

Whilst ‘Splid’ doesn’t attempt to take their sound in one set direction, it does refine the genre twisting, punk flavoured metal that Kvelertak have been working on for the better part of two decades. This is highlighted on ‘Bratebrann’, a track that mixes together slick chugging, raw vocals, churning leads, and harmonised vocals to create a hook laden journey through the group’s influences.

After the breath-taking ‘Fanden Ta Dette Hull!’, the record takes the energy down a notch with ‘Tevling’ leaning into tightly wound palm-muting and new wave leads. Naturally, the track explodes with moments of bombastic energy and screaming guitars, but the track delivers a welcome change of pace.

For a record that continually pushes the energy further, it’s not surprising that ‘Splid’ concludes with ‘Delirium Tremens’ and ‘Ved Bredden Av Nihil’. With both tracks moving between flowing melodies and churning guitars, Kvelertak deliver a streamlined and formidable take of their unique sound.

Despite a slow start, ‘Splid’ delivers a streamlined version of Kvelertak, complete with a willingness to experiment further than before. Proving that they can continue forwards with Ivan Nikolaisen, Kvelertak have delivered their most accessible and ambitious record yet.