Album review: Kvelertak – Endling

Norwegian punk-metal masters Kvelertak continue to lose absolutely nothing in translation on brilliant fifth album.

Album review: Kvelertak – Endling
Nick Ruskell

If you want to get into the proper spine of Endling, it’s inspired by a mysterious Norwegian recluse by the name of Helmut Von Botnlaus. According to Kvelertak, he spent most of his life in isolation, occasionally emerging to fight against anything he comes across related to modern society, in defence of nature. During COVID, singer Ivar Nikolaisen spent a lot of time wandering in the mountains and forests, where he began to feel something of a kinship with him, and a disdain for building developers and anyone else who would destroy the natural world.

It’s a good theme, especially if you speak Norwegian and can actually translate the lyrics. But it’s testament to Kvelertak’s cleverness and power that, had we not just told you, you wouldn’t know of its deeper themes at all, and still it’s an album that grabs you and takes you through a land entirely of their own. It’s not that they have metal, punk, hardcore, grandstanding choruses, brutality, sass, giant riffs, winking Thin Lizzy bits, the caveman cleverness of Mastodon and the eyebrow-waggling rock’n’roll strut of Turbonegro in the palette; it’s how they dance between them all without you even noticing what they’re doing. It’s not a jigsaw of sounds, it’s one complete thing. In this, Endling is a genius work.

Opener Krøterveg Te Helvete spends half of its seven minutes almost doing an instrumental calibration, almost boiling things down to a tasting menu, before exploding into a blast of punked-up rock’n’roll that’s classy, cunning, and completely thrilling. Likvoke’s riff manages to sound like Black Sabbath and Baroness at the same time; Døgeniktens Kvad makes black metal and Southern bluegrass an unexpectedly natural combination; Skoggangr is, at times when it’s not shoving you against a wall and shouting at you, like a scruffy, mountain-dwelling Queen. But for all the ‘that sounds like…’ fun, the result is entirely Kvelertak.

To head further into the lyrics is to find even more to admire about Endling. But even if you don’t, there’s no sense that you’re missing anything. Well done, Kvelertak. Well done.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Baroness, Mastodon, Turbonegro

Endling is released on September 8 via Rise

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