Kvelertak Meir

Norwegian blackened metal and hardcore punk band Kvelertak arrived with a bone-snapping din in 2010 with the release of their self-titled debut, which ultimately won them both Best Newcomer and Best Rock awards at the Norwegian Music Awards. A track from that record, the crushing "Mjød," appeared in the Norwegian dark fantasy/found footage film Trollhunter. With Meir, they push their existing and wildly successful technique of juxtaposing various styles deftly and seemingly effortlessly to its logical conclusion, backed by the ridiculous production values (courtesy of Converge's Kurt Ballou) that major label support can buy. Kvelertak excel at uniting the notoriously humourless screeches and ethereal riffing of black metal with the boozy, brawling energy of hard rock, with punk surliness and hardcore-esque throat-shredding sprinkled in. The shifts in tone and aesthetic, even when dramatic, are completely nimble, thanks to frontman Erland Hjelvik's chameleonic voice and drummer Kjetil Gjermundrød's ability to shift from blast beats to stomp-y groove seamlessly. "Bruane Brenn" begins more tightly coiled, then loosens and blooms into a huge power ballad; "Spring Fra Livet" manages to balance a Southern, bluesy groove with excitable, almost panicked black metal tremolo-picking; and "Tordenbrak" features one of the strongest, most infectious riffs on any heavy record this year. Kvelertak feel as though they are right on the verge of something extraordinary, as they explore the limits of their very successful aesthetic with Meir. When they inevitably push past and through it, they'll have the ability to produce a genre-defining masterpiece. (Roadrunner)