‘Im very proud and grateful for everything we’ve accomplished as KVELERTAK. I am genuinely thankful for everything we’ve experienced together and wish the band the best of luck and success in the future.
This was part of Erlend Hjelvik’s final statement he made upon exiting his band KVELERTAK in 2018, where he spent 12 years of his career. As the founding member, it must have been difficult making such a decision to move on.
After spending 2 years getting some much needed rest after non-stop touring, Erlend returns with his newest project and debut album Welcome To Hel by Hjelvik and released by Nuclear Blast Records.
KVELERTAK, the Norwegian heavy metal band, is known for artfully mixing punk, classic rock, and underground metal styles thus creating their own fusion of metal music.
Touted as ‘Norwegian’s Favorite Metal Band’, they shared stages with some pretty notorious bands, like Metallica on its WorldWired Tour in Sept 17’ and opened for Ghost on its Popestar Tour in 17’.
Obviously, we are going to compare the two bands KVELERTAK vs. Hjelvik to see how Erlend has grown over the last few years.
We will also look at the music itself and see how it is constructed both instrumentally and lyrically. And can he sustain the high level of energy he once had with his previous band KVELERTAK? Let’s dig in and find the answers.
United State’s Rob Steinway’s guitar work on this album rocks; and right out of the gate, it is very clear that the guitar and vocals are at the forefront. His expertise is evident as he has played with Fallen Angels and Skelator previously.
The overall sound is less production-like with a lot less punk and definitely harder metal with an intricately clearer guitar sound.
Of course, KVELERTAK had three powerhouse guitarists and three vocalists; whereas, Hjelvik has one vocalist and one guitarist.
The previous band felt more like a Beastie Boys’ party, and the current a little more ‘grown up’.
When Erlend said, “As we’ve been developing personally and professionally, our individual goals, needs and motivations have changed, leading us in different directions,” he wasn’t kidding.
This album is worlds away from his previous catalog of work. It stands out individually, as it creates its own genre of music: Hjelvik Metal.
The Power Ballad of Freyr stands out, as the vocals sound like a cross between Rob Halford of Judas Priest mixed with AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, except a Nordic version.
Next up is Glory of Hel, which displays a strong guitar solo and vocally sounds similar to the prior song on the EP, The Power Ballad of Freyr. Lyrically, on point, with each song based on various nordic mythological stories.
French bassist Alexis Lieu lends his hands along with Irish drummer, Kevin Foley, on track #7 Ironwood to add a quite impressive backdrop to the strong guitarwork and aggressive vocals.
Strangely enough, it doesn’t really fall into any exact style of metal. And after watching Erlend with his previous band, a new Erlend has emerged, a whole new artist has emerged.
Although the language is Norwegian, a North Germanic language, and the fact that there is a language barrier, I have to rely on the overall sound rather than the word content.
Instrumentally, the album can be understood on different levels. The emotion can be felt, thanks to the instruments and voice inflection. Congrats to Erlend Hjelvik on his triumphant return and for putting together a team of musicians that, although they are from all over the world, speak the same language musically.
Hjelvik & Co., given their backgrounds, longevity in the industry, and timing, they have produced a very special collector’s composition each can be very proud of.
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Review by Jordonna Lobese for MPM