Review: Splid – Kvelertak

Kvelertak’s latest album is yet another versatile metal record that takes influences from multiple rock subgenres while still remaining cohesive.

By Gavin Majeski


“Splid” is the fourth full-length project from Norway heavy metal band Kvelertak and once again delivers a diverse palette of sounds. At their core, Kvelertak is stylized best as heavy metal/black metal based on guitar riffs and vocals from frontman Ivar Nikolaisen. Since their 2010 debut release, the band has always dipped their toes into other genres such as hardcore punk and classic rock. With “Splid” we see them jump into the deep end via the departure of their previous vocalist Erlend Hjelvik.

The most notable feature of “Splid” is Nikolaisen’s diverse vocal inflection. Whether it’s his hardcore punk screams on “Necrosoft,” or classic metal inflection on tracks such as “Crack of Doom” and “Discord.” For the first time in the band’s discography we are hit with glimpses of post-hardcore, pop-punk and even an 80s pop-rock intro on the track “Tevling.”

Just like the band’s previous records, the opening track sets the tone beautifully with a fantastic buildup and crescendo as Nikolaisen jumps in with his most aggressive performance on the album. The screams are reminiscent of modern post-hardcore bands such as La Dispute. The track then transitions beautifully into “Crack of Doom (feat. Troy Sanders)” which contains amazing vocal chemistry between Nikolaisen and Sanders. The low, monstrous voice of Sanders is juxtaposed with Nikolaisen’s higher pitched inflection.

“Bråtebrann” is one of the longer tracks on the record and features some stellar math/progressive rock drumming from Håvard Takle Ohr. “Fanden ta Dette Hull!” is a prime example of the band capturing the listener’s attention through a track that surpasses the seven minute mark. The track begins with a classic rock instrumental but transitions into a thrash metal banger four minutes into the song.

Out of the 11 track record, half of the songs well surpass the five minute mark in length and start to stagnate. Filled with instrumental passages that become tediously repetitive, “Bråtebrann” and “Fanden ta Dette Hull!” are the primary two tracks that counter this and actively engage the listener. The longer tracks often begin with unique instrumentation, such as the melodic acoustic guitar on the closer, “Ved Bredden av Nihil,” but predictably result in returning to heavy metal riffs as the song progresses.

“Splid” is a great outing from the new Kvelertak lineup, even with some longer songs that add a lull in the track listing.

Favorite Tracks: Rogaland, Crack of Doom, Necrosoft, Discord, Bråtebrann, Uglas Hegemoni, Fanden ta Dette Hull!