FROM THE TIME THEY FORMED IN Stavanger, Norway, in 2007, Kvelertak have widely been regarded as a proggy black-and-roll band. But while the band’s three guitarists all enjoy heavy music, they didn’t start out as metalheads. Primary songwriter Bjarte Lund Rolland considers Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham and Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler to be two of his greatest influences. Rhythm guitarist Vidar Landa was more a fan of alternative and indie rock and lead guitarist Maciek Ofstad grew up with hardcore before discovering extreme metal.
“We weren’t supposed to be a metal band when we started,” Rolland says over the phone. “We wanted to be more like a rock band that has metal influences here and there. Of course, we all like Metallica and grew up in Norway with the whole black metal thing. But there’s so much other stuff that we like that has influenced us.”
Kvelertak’s penchant for classic rock and mainstream metal were evident in the past — mostly between buzzsaw riffs and roaring vocals. Their euphoric energy separated them from many of their peers, earning them ringing endorsements from various acts, including Converge, Mastodon (whose bassist, Troy Sanders, guests on Kvelertak’s new album, Splid), Ghost and, most significantly, Metallica. Kvelertak connected with the latter through Baroness frontman and painter John Baizley, who designed Kvelertak’s first two album covers and whose band shares Metallica’s management company, Q Prime.
“We had no idea Metallica knew who we were,” Landa says. Then in 2013, we played Slim’s in San Francisco on our first headline tour of the States. I looked out in the crowd and saw James Hetfield headbanging! We talked to him after the show and he said he was super-stoked about the band, which seemed crazy. Then, a year later, Metallica invited us to play four summer shows with them. Nothing like that had ever happened to us. That went well, and then a couple years later they asked us to play the Wired tour with them in Europe.”
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