Outside of maybe Ghost (now Ghost BC) and/or Deafheaven, no heavy band’s sophomore album comes this year with more anticipation or conversation than Meir, from Norwegian black ‘n’ roll band Kvelertak. (It was on our list of 2013′s most anticipated albums.) The album’s terrific first single, “Bruane Brenn,” only further stoked that excitement, but Meir more than delivers on its initial promise. It’s a richer, more powerful album than the band’s self-titled 2010 debut. Meir feels less anxious than its predecessor, more confident (both were recorded with Convege guitarist Kurt Ballou). Again, Kvelertak have blended their world of influences — black metal, D-beat hardcore, classic rock — but here, that blend feels more organic, and quite a bit more epic. Occasionally, that manifests itself in songs of expanded length — the album’s second half features three consecutive tracks that exceed the six-minute mark — but more often than not, they keep things compact, building upward, not outward. Album opener “Apenbaring” raises my pulse and sharpens my focus in much the same way Fucked Up’s “Son The Father” did on The Chemistry Of Common Life — it’s a gateway into a consciousness-altering experience, but just walking through that gateway is a hell of a ride. Much of Meir feels like Fucked Up, in fact. Like that band, Kvelertak here are bringing together melody, speed, and volume in totally new and entrancing ways; it’s a stunning display of fury and might, but blissful and joyous, too. The album’s eponymous closing track is one of the catchiest things you’ll hear this year. It offers an exit from the thrilling universe created by Meir, but it’s really an invitation to re-enter, to again get carried away, lost, delivered. We’re streaming Meir in full right now, in advance of its release next week. I can’t encourage you enough to listen.
Meir is out 3/26 via Roadrunner.