Kvelertak – Splid (Rise Records)

Ivar Nikolaisen sounds like a Viking warlord.

He sings like every day’s a fresh battle.

And thanks to the furious frontman, Kvelertak’s future is in safe hands.

It was never going to be a walk in the park succeeding Erlend Hjelvik.

In fact, there was a time when it looked like Kvelertak’s former singer was irreplaceable.

But Nikolaisen accepted the challenge and faced it head on.

Splid is the spellbinding result of that giant leap of faith.

And it’s given a band on the brink fresh belief.

Kvelertak have never sounded more focused or more ferocious.

The heady mix of Lizzy-esque melody and black metal posturing is still front and centre.

But Nikolaisen has somehow elevated the Norwegian collective to a crushing new level.

And Splid is bursting at the seams with songs to break skulls to.

Crack Of Doom, featuring Mastodon’s Troy Sanders, might not make the Radio Two playlist anytime soon.

But it’s a real earworm of a metal anthem that’s bound to become a brutally efficient live staple.

Clocking in at just shy of eight minutes, Fanden Ta Dette Hull! is classic Kvelertak.

Waves of emotion and layers of ripe riffs represent a trademark juxtaposition.

At times it could be Queen in their flamboyant pomp!

For the first time Kvelertak veer away from their native language.

And if the smattering of English can sound strangely uncomfortable then Discord’s punk power promises further evolution.

Splid represents a splendid return from a truly unique metal act.

And Nikolaisen has nailed a career-defining performance.