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The self-described purveyors of "party black metal" found themselves at a crossroads in 2018 after the departure of longtime larynx abuse specialist Erlend Hjelvik. The installation of a new lead singer can be fraught with danger, but Kvelertak's chassis has always been the sublime triple-guitar attack of Vidar Landa, Bjarte Lund Rolland, and Maciek Ofsad, which is set to full-on slay for album number four. Ivar Nikolaisen's first stint behind the wheel feels less like a sea change and more like a subtle changing of the guard -- Nikolaisen has been in the band's orbit for years, even making a vocal appearance on their debut. His ability to replicate Hjelvik's death rattle establishes some continuity, but his periodic forays into clean singing, often in English, represent enough of a stylistic departure to make Splid feel fresh, even when it's serving up the same ghoulish goulash of pick-slide-happy classic rock and Asgardian black metal as its predecessors. Produced with seismic heft by Converge's Kurt Ballou, who helmed the band's first two outings, Splid (which translates to "Discord") commences with a slow-building storm of distortion that gradually reveals a blazing, punk-metal core festooned with Iron Maiden-worthy guitarmonies. Album opener "Rogaland" is well placed, offering safe harbor for those concerned that Hjelvik's absence might steer the good ship Kvelertak into unfamiliar waters -- the singles "Bråtebrann" and "Fanden ta dette Hull!" are pretty much instant Valhalla-worthy classics. "Crack of Doom" takes a slight detour into stoner metal, with Nikolaisen joined on vocals by Mastodon's Troy Sanders, and the taut and snappy "Tevling" flirts with Pixies-ish alt-rock, but for the most part, Splid picks right up where 2016's Nattesferd left off and never looks back.

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