Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Gay or Not Gay?*--Kvelertak
Kvelertak is one of the hottest and most hotly debated bands in extreme music today. When their self-titled album (which I believe to be their debut but won't check) dropped, dudebros over at Metalsucks had an olde-school freakout over the album. I love Metalsucks, but I think that any avid reader of theirs would recognize that their tastes in metal are much more...liberal than most other peoples'. Example: I don't think that Illogical Contraption, The Living Doorway, or Invisible Oranges would ever be caught dead covering Ratt's newest release, or remarking upon what Axl Rose has been up to. At any rate, the Webbies caught fire over debating the merits and relative fagginess of Kvelertak immediately, and as such, I decided that it was time for me to whip out my Investigator's Probe and go balls-deep into the Kvelertak controversy. I am, after all, literally the only person who can put this debate to rest forever. And I take my position fucking SERIOUSLY.
Now, I have put in some actual sitting-and-listening time with the album, and my first impression of it is that it has been grossly misrepresented. I was, through the writeups that I have read of Kvelertak, lead to believe that they were some sort of black metal band that likes to party. Upon reading this, I immediately thought to myself "That doesn't exist. That's not a thing." Turns out, I was right. Super right. Kvelertak is, in actuality, an amorphous blob of a band. They are superficially metal, aren't really that heavy, and have almost literally no qualities that can be compared with black metal other than the vocalist's throaty hiss. Pegging down what genre they may or may not belong to is like trying to eat an entire tree. You can't do it, and you should understand that even trying is kind of stupid and pointless. Now I know what you're thinking: "Why haven't you made a boner joke yet?" I already did, but there's another one coming.
The real kvltroversy with Kvelertak lies in the misrepresentation that has been allowed to happen. Kvelertak are not, on any level, kvlt, grim, br00tal, tr00, or heavy. Their only real tie with extreme music lies in the vocal style being so similar to the commonly agreed-upon delivery for any black metal vocalist: Scream all high-pitched-like and do nothing else for any reason. Also, they are from some kind of Scandinavian country, which most people agree makes anybody super Grim by default. But if that's a qualification, there's a whole ton of liederhosen-wearing mountain yodelers that need to be derided for how False and Ungrim they are, too.
Now, I've seen this kind of thing happen with other bands, most notably Alcest, who are basically a crappy indie-rock band that throws in a section that superficially resembles black metal no more than twice per album. They got lumped into the "black metal" community in the same way that Kvelertak did, which is by incorporating vocals that were more like black metal vocals than anything else. The difference between the two bands, however, is that everyone fell for Alcest's ploy because it's so "beautiful" (read: boring and pretentious and gay). Kvelertak attempt to have fun and be a party band, which isn't nearly hateful/boring enough to avoid the dreaded Ungrim label that is bandied about by black metal enthusiasts worldwide. The only connecting factors between either of these bands and anything resembling extremity or general kvlt-ness is the use of the hiss. Nothing else.
Now, on to the original question: Kvelertak. Gay, or Not Gay?
Answer: Not nearly as gay as they have been made out to be.
Though Kvelertak are billed as extreme black metal fun-havers, they are actually just a rock band that, for some unknown reason, decided to take one aspect of that most hateful genre, utilize it front to back, and turn themselves into posterboys for falsehood and, therefore, lameness. Trying to explain that they shouldn't even be saddled with the "black metal" genrefication is seemingly useless. It's like calling your penis "gigantic" because it shares a single quality with a penis that is actually gigantic, such as being attached to a human or having a tattoo of Wile E. Coyote pushing a lawn mower right next to it. That's why people hate Kvelertak so hard, and that's why they are controversial. Their music is actually pretty good and fun to listen to if you are able to separate them from the idea of being a Metal Band. If they were presented as what they are, which is a goofy rock band from Europe whose singer screams all icky, there would be no problem whatsoever.
Issue resolved, and you're welcome.
*The term "Gay or Not Gay?" is not a libelous statement against homosexuals. It is a colloquial term that describes something that is sub-par, unfortunate, or generally annoying. So please don't be gay by denouncing my use of the word.