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Why have Kvelertak ditched black metal for classic rock?

New album Nattesferd has torn up the Norwegians' rulebook

How do you stop a runaway train? You don’t. You cling on for dear life, see where it takes you and hope that you don’t hit any brick walls along the way. Kvelertak have been hurtling onwards and upwards for almost a decade now. Armed with a wild hybrid of hardcore, black metal and honest-to-goodness rock’n’roll, the Norwegians’ proud square peg status has already taken them much further than they ever expected, with tours around the world, support slots with the likes of Slayer and acclaim for 2010’s self-titled album and 2013’s Meir. So far, so very good indeed. In terms of their burgeoning presence on the world stage, Kvelertak’s next move is crucial. Fortunately, new album Nattesferd is another winner, albeit one that sees the band frequently move into classic rock territory.

Self-produced, rawer and more live-sounding than its predecessors, it’s an unexpected but effective sideways step that, oddly, may yet propel Kvelertak ever further along the road to glory. What becomes apparent when chatting with frontman Erlend Hjelvik and guitarist Vidar Landa is that they are as bemused as anyone by their own intuitive evolution.

“Honestly? We never planned anything or talked about what we were going to do this time,” shrugs Erlend. “The songs turned out the way they are. The approach in the studio was just different this time. Before, we recorded with Kurt Ballou in the States, and we’d just do one instrument at a time. This time, we wanted to use all the live experience we’ve got from all the years of touring, so the whole band is playing together, live in the same room, and it sounds more dynamic and more organic.”

“It basically sounds just like Kvelertak!” grins Vidar. “If you come to see us live, that’s what you hear. Recording to a click track and playing one riff over and over it until you get it right, you end up sounding like a machine, but on this record it’s just one session with all the mistakes included. And I guess there’s some more classic rock stuff on this record, a few more mid-tempo songs…”

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