Being in a hardcore band for 25 years can make it pretty darn tough when …
Erland Hjelvik’s departure from Norwegian party animals Kvelertak in 2018 stunned fans of both camps, and as the band moved on with barely a misstep, the career path for their erstwhile frontman was left open to question.
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What probably nobody expected him to do was to go on and make a gloriously fun and catchy Viking metal album, but upon reflection it’s a move that makes complete sense.
The differences between Kvelertak and HJELVIK are as stark as the similarities are obvious. The songs here are straight-up metal songs that fall back on simple old song structures, without the black n roll elements or jarring excursions into hardcore and craziness his previous band is known for. Yet Hjelvik brings his uncanny instinct for hooks, his distinctive vocal delivery and his inherent sense of fun to every track, making this solo debut more of a logical progression from Kvelertak than it first appears.
HJELVIK also comes embellished with a sense of fun and simple naiveté that is truly refreshing. This is a very good start to the next chapter of Erland Hjelvik’s career.
Welcome to Hel is a celebration of Nordic metal from Joe Petagno’s glorious art to the interplay of bristling melody lines, thunderous blastbeats, wild solos, furiously catchy riffs and Hjelvik’s blackened howl. The sweeping, epic-sounding Dimmu Borgir-inspired track North Tsar sits comfortably alongside more immediate Dissection-style melodic death metal outings like Kveldulv and Ironwood, High On Fire’s Matt Pike adds considerable muscle to the rousing Glory of Hel and the slower-paced The Power Ballad of Freyr is further lifted by an amazingly catchy melodic guitar line. Throughout, Hjelvik proudly waves the flag of influences, from Bathory to Immortal and all points in between, while dexterously showing off his own inspired streaks of individuality and sheer depth of passion for his chosen creative outlet. Importantly, HJELVIK also comes embellished with a sense of fun and simple naiveté that is truly refreshing. This is a very good start to the next chapter of Erland Hjelvik’s career.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Kveldulv, The Power Ballad of Freyr, North Tsar
STICK THIS NEXT TO: Amon Amarth, Bathory, Unleashed