Recently while I was looking for some good new music I stumbled Norwegian metalers Kvelertak. Their new album Meir which was released last month drew me in immediately and in the week since I have become rather addicted to the groups blend of heavy metal, hardcore, punk and, at times, even classic rock.
Screamy heavy metal like Kvelertak is normally not something I would listen to, while I appreciate there are a huge number of good bands that fall into their category like Mastodon, MachineHead or Lamb of God I’ve always found that type of shouting to be a bit too much for me, melodramatic maybe and I’ve always opted for music with a less deliberate kind of shouting rather than screaming like Gallows. However when I whacked on the first track of Meir there was something about the group that despite the shrieking vocals really grabbed and dragged me into a new world. Perhaps it has something to do with their being Norwegian, perhaps its because the music really is just so well written that it would be impossible not to. Despite being grabbed immediately it wasn’t until later in the album when I became fully aware of how insanely awesome these guys were. Throughout the record there are awesome riffs and shades of a load of different genres but the shit really hits the fan when it gets to track eight, Nekrokosmos and as the song draws to its close it leaves you thrash riff that will keep you head-banging for ages, or all the time it takes your iPod to play the next track and your treated to another of the same calibre. There’s even an air of Foo Fighters in Tordenbrak and the final track eponymously titled Kvelertak has an essence of Led Zeppelin in there while the whole time being as heavy as an elephant sized stack of bricks. Their first album also called Kvelertak is more of the same and holds its own charm even if I don’t like it quite as much as Meir.
With two albums under their belt both of which being rock hard slabs of the finest metal music has to offer surely things can only be looking up for the mighty Kvelertak. Go give them a listen and tell me I’m wrong.
The other day I was introduced to this group, Protest the Hero. Upon watching the sublime video that accompanies ‘Hair Trigger’ I was originally planning to just do an album review of Scurrilous which that song features on but after enjoying the album so much I gave the bands previous two records a listen and thought it best to turn this post into a band plug. Protest the Hero are primarily a metal although their music has elements of post-hardcore and at times classic rock. These are a band that have the ability to take themselves overly seriously but chose to have a laugh instead.
Going back to their debut album, Kezia, we see a bit more of their metal origins. This is definitely their most generic metal record but that’s not to say it doesn’t have other elements to it. Songs like ‘Blindfolds Aside’ and ‘A Plateful of Our Dead’ have acoustic, Spanish guitar sections breaking up the erratic rock that surrounds them. The musicianship for a debut is exemplary. Crazy time signatures padded out with insane double bass solos and some of the best vocals in any band around make Kezia a great listen even when compared with their later, more popular, records.
Fortress, is much the same. The bass lines on this album have taken a leaf out of the book of funk and can often be heard rapidly bumbling along beneath the ridiculous guitars, listen to ‘Bone Marrow’ to hear a bit of this. There’s also a lot more of the post-hardcore feel I was talking about on this record which becomes even more apparent on Scurrilous, but we can see them progressing as a band here. There are also tracks on here that sound a lot more like prog-metal similar to The Fall of Troy or even System of a Down at times.
Scurrilous, their latest album is a lot less like a metal album flowing between punk and hardcore and cutting down on the screaming. The guitar parts are still just as crazy though and the lyrics just as ridiculous as ever. Vocally, this album shows how Rody Walker has matured and he gives his strongest performance on this.
Protest the Hero are a band that manage to set themselves well apart from the norm of metal bands at the moment and genuinely capture something unique in the sound by throwing together a mixture of other bands style. These guys are definitely one to watch, got my fingers crossed for UK tour in the near future.
It was sad news about a year and a half ago when it was announced that Frank Carter would, indeed, be parting ways with Gallows, the Watford-based hardcore punk band had completely changed the game with their first two records and were without doubt one of the best live bands in the world. I was lucky enough to have a ticket to see them on their final tour with the raw lead vocalist. In my eyes Carter was the real heartbeat of Gallows his croaky shouting brought punk back to the forefront of the music scene and, in fact, improved upon the genre as a whole. When it was announced that he’d be replaced by Wade MacNeil, of alexisonfire, my immediate reaction was disappointment. It didn’t seem right that a Canadian would be screaming ‘London is the Reason’ all up and down our country. Then soon after all this Gallows released a new EP, to give a taster of their new front-man. Death is Birth was as fast, powerful and angry as a punch in the face and it was the first sign to me that Gallows may actually continue to be a decent band.
So the album is, in many ways, very similar to Death is Birth. The tracks rarely reach the three minute mark and are filled with back to basics thrashy hardcore punk. It’s a far dirtier album than the much more polished Grey Britain, and even, perhaps, more raw than their debut, Orchestra of Wolves. As it goes on there are some slightly more tuneful riffs but that’s not saying much. Wade’s yelling is much less audible than Carter’s and he gives the band a completely new feel to the group and that’s, sort of, a good thing as it separates this album from anything they’ve done previously but on the other hand it makes the band sound a lot more like the more generic American hardcore punk acts like Cancer Bats.
Overall I really like the album but its lost the magic that it had with Frank at the helm. Although having listened to the first few releases from his new band Pure Love, it looks like he would have ruined them anyway. But my main problem is that I don’t like the fact that they still have the same name, they sound completely different and it just doesn’t sound right when you hear MacNeil shouting out Carter’s lyrics. Nevertheless as a standalone album this is good stuff.