• By: Keith Whittier

“It’s Pretty Hard to Die in Scandinavia,” Kvelertak Explains the Popularity of Death Metal

With endorsements from the likes of Dave Grohl (The Foo Fighters), James Hetfield (Metallica), and Rob Flynn (Machine Head), Kvelertak is well on their way to stardom.

You can catch Kvelertak at the tail end of their North-American tour this Sunday, May 11 at Mavericks.

The name Kvelertak (Norwegian for “stranglehold”) should tell you what they are all about.

Formed in 2007, this Norwegian metal band didn’t take long to gain notoriety, with their self-titled debut album “Kvelertak” reaching gold in 2010.

Further acclaim quickly followed in 2011 when Kvelertak won two Spellmann Awards –a prestigious Norwegian music award, equivalent to the American Grammy Award – for Best Newcomer and Best Rock Band.

OLM spoke with vocalist Erlend Hjelvik to discuss (among other things) their tour, their future, and the popularity of death metal.

OLM: How has the tour been going?

EH: It’s still fun, its tiring too. We’ve been touring a lot. We have a lot of fun on the road, especially when it’s a good tour like the one we are on now, touring with our favourite bands Gojira and Mastodon. It’s the biggest tour we’ve ever done.

OLM: What is the metal scene like in Norway?

EH: [Metal music] is popular in all of Scandinavia. It’s a good environment for a heavy metal band.

OLM: Why do you think that is?

 EH: It’s because we have it pretty good in here. It’s kind of hard to die when you live in Scandinavia.  Everybody needs a little metal in their lives  –to stay on the dark side a little.

OLM: Singing only in Norwegian why do you think you were still able to attract a strong English speaking fan base?  Have you ever considered singing in English?

EH: It’s an important part of our sound. I think our fans would be pretty disappointed if we started singing in English. I think there’s enough music with bad English singing in it already. The most important thing is how it sounds. I don’t really think about the language of a band as long as it sounds good.

OLM: What kind of music do you listen to? What are your influences?

EH: It’s very different from band member, to band member. We all like different stuff. For me it’s mostly death metal, 70s rock [Rush and Deep Purple], and 80s metal. As long as it’s good I listen to it.

OLM: How has your music changed?

EH: We get better at playing our instruments. We keep progressing and we’ll see when we go to make new music what kind of mood we’re in, but it’s going to sounds like Kvelertak no matter what.

OLM: What has the reception been like playing at shows in Canada?

EH: It was mind blowing the reception we got the first time we ever played there. We look forward to playing more shows in Canada.

OLM: What can Ottawa fans expect at your show at Mavericks?

EH: They can expect us to play our songs, of course. We always put a lot of adrenalin and passion into [our shows] so they can expect a lot of sweat. 

Touring until the end of summer, Kvelertak will take a break this fall to work on their third album. Fan’s can look forward to its release in early 2015.

For more information and for tickets to Kvelertak’s concert at Mavericks go to: http://bit.ly/1hfYLbu