With the strength, mass, and intensity of the animal, Norwegian rockers Svölk mark their signing to Napalm Records with twelve thunderous tracks of ‘bear metal’ in new album Svölk ‘Em All. The album is actually a re-issue of the band’s debut album of 2009 with a trio of new tracks to excite the palate and feed the ear, the songs seeing Svölk thrust its musical pelvis in a fusion of classic and hard rock melded with some stoner and southern tasting rock ‘n’ roll.
From the release of the band’s first EP Beast Unleashed the quintet from Oslo has conquered their homeland renowned for death and black metal sounds and controversy. The link up with Napalm now gives the band the weaponry to forcibly move out into the world and Svölk ‘Em All the armament to rapidly grab deeper and stronger eager attention. The sounds within the release have an overall similarity which rather than being soon easy to pass over actually pull the ear in to find the varied and striking delights within each song, whilst the power and energy each track is delivered with is unrelenting being well represented by the band name which means “to kick someone’s ass, or to kick ass”. This all adds up to make the album a deeply satisfying slab of rock music that leaves the senses punch drunk by its end.
The release opens with ‘52’ and all the riffs and flavours you need to know Svölk mean business and will play and tease whilst stirring up the pulse rate. Starting off with a southern redneck twang the song expands into a scuzzy fest of gritty guitars and throbbing rhythms, with a touch of Down about it the track is a strong beginning to the album that lifts a gear with the track ‘This Is It’. Old School riffage and thrash/rock with essences of Metallica and at times the likes of Thin Lizzy oozing out from the dirty melodies and inciting play make the track one of the brighter highlights. As with many tracks the song sounds familiar from the off but this works rather than hinders, more homage than a lack of originality.
The rock ‘n’ roll feast continues track through track in various guises from the Maiden tinged ‘Anchor’ and the blues soaked incessant urgency of ‘Sweet Agony’ with more Thin Lizzy spice, to the southern stoner juices of ’12 Times The Pain’ and the constant rampant classic metal thrust and riffs of ‘Inferno’. Musically the band cannot be faulted, the guitars and their intuitive melodies reach deeply, reminding and refreshing memories of older vintage sounds but with a fresh and modern touch whilst the rhythms play on the ear like a big cat, teasing and probing before going in for the kill. Vocally Knut Erik Solhaug is as impressive as the sounds, his Glenn Danzig like tones a perfect weapon alongside the no hold bards sounds.
The best track on Svölk ‘Em All is easily ‘Warm Within’, the song engaging and instantly recognisable with a sing-long flow backed by irresistible classic guitar strokes and play. The song is so familiar from the off but impossible to really pin down why and that makes it along with the great sound a special joy.
Overall Svölk sound like a superior mash of Metallica, Down, The Sword and many superior classic rock bands but at the same time sound like themselves even more, and though classed as southern rock/stoner by many they are further removed than say label mates Lonely Kamel to edge nearer to hard rock/classic rock flavoured by wide multi genre spices. Svölk ‘Em All may not have the newest sound to hit the ear but it certainly is one of the most enjoyable and stirring.