Norwegian "black 'n' roll" sextet Kvelertak ("Chokehold") was formed in 2007 in Stavanger, Norway's third city and home to several popular gothic metal bands. Kvelertak's sound could not have been more different, however. Fusing the raw punk 'n' roll sound pioneered by the likes of Turbonegro with the harsh, shrieking fury of black metal was not a new idea -- it had already been done with great success by fellow Norwegians Satyricon -- but this was arguably the first time it had been attempted by a band of "regular guys" not already grounded in the black metal idiom. An early demo, Westcoast Holocaust, and steady touring earned them a devoted fan base, and in 2010 they released their eponymous debut album.
Recorded by Converge's Kurt Ballou and released by Oslo's Indie Recordings (and later by the End in the US), Kvelertak was a surprise global hit, with its lyrics all in Norwegian. Critics praised the band's sledgehammer sound and the freshness in their mash-up of genres, and the album went gold, giving the band two Spellemann Awards (the Norwegian Grammys) and leading to a deal with Sony Music in Scandinavia and massive metal factory Roadrunner in the rest of the world, opening them up to a global audience. Their second album, Meir ("More"), was released in 2013 and was another critical and commercial hit, despite some controversy over its cover art -- by influential American artist John Dyer Baizley (of the band Baroness) -- of a naked mother-goddess figure spattered with bird droppings. ~ John D. Buchanan