Album Review: Kvelertak – Endling

Norway's punk-metal-rock alchemists get darker, bigger, and even better on their fifth full-length

It’s hard to think about Norway without getting lost in a world of legends and folklore. 

Stories of Vikings, trolls, fairies and sea creatures frequently feature on our TV and movie screens, forming much of what many understand of Nordic traditions – but what about the parts we don’t see?

That’s what Kvelertak are shining a light on with their fifth album, Endling, delving into the elements of their local culture and rituals that are far too dark for television broadcast. 

Inspired by the sextet’s time spent walking in the mountains of their home country, exploring rural villages in search of true stories, the record’s 10 sprawling tracks are an evocative exploration of their nation’s past, present and future – interwoven within some of their most sonically ambitious work to date.

The band’s second album with vocalist Ivar Nikolaisen at the helm – following 2020’s highly acclaimed Splid – Kvelertak have developed a distinctly paradoxical approach to rock ‘n’ roll. Chaotic yet refined, thought-provoking yet remarkably fun, Endling is an untameable beast of a rock record, honing the band’s blend of punk, black metal and classic rock.

Kvelertak - Krøterveg Te Helvete [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

Kickstarting with the gradual build of near eight minute-long opener ‘Krøterveg Te Helvete’, each track on Endling is brimming with immediacy. Darting between subgenres and styles with ease, barrelling punk anthems take breakneck swerves into Bay Area-style thrash metal riffs whilst other tracks see them leaning further into garage rock influences (‘Svart September’) and 70s rock (‘Skoggangr’). 

The band’s signature triple-guitar harmonies take centre stage at every turn though, with Nikolaisen’s visceral screams further weaving the band’s narrative threads. Their union perhaps shines brightest on the album’s title track; a groovy classic rock track that culminates in an epic Queen-like guitar crescendo. 

It’s Kvelertak’s ability to make each note appear effortless that renders them truly remarkable. Tracking most of the songs on Endling live in the studio, and only one to a click, it’s that organic spirit that makes closing track ‘Morild’ so impressive. A constantly shifting soundscape bathed in full-bodied harmonies and vocals, it’s a perfect example of the immersive nature of Kvelertak’s music, rounding out the album’s journey on a reflective high.

For a band already famed within heavy music circles for their constant evolution, Kvelertak are at their most confident and creative form to date on Endling. The six-piece’s skill for universal storytelling bleeds into every note they play, further proving themselves as a collective of some of the most talented musicians in their scene. Endling ushers in a new era of rock ‘n’ roll escapism.

Release date: 8 September 2023
Label: Rise Records
On tour: TBC