If the opening weeks of January are anything to go by, we are in for a mighty year of emerging potential drenched bands, seriously thrilling releases, and propositions to make your toes curl. One such prospect to add to the already expanding list encapsulating all three of those aspects is Norwegian band Ondt Blod and their debut album Finnmark. The ear grabbing release is a ridiculously gripping collection of fury fuelled, antagonism sculpted tracks infused with unpredictable imagination and virulent contagion. It is a rousing incitement as sure to get you cursing the world as dancing feverishly on tables from a band already easy to suggest big success is coming the way of.
Formed in 2013, Ondt Blod comes from Norway’s most northern county bearing the same name as the band’s album. Since emerging, the quintet has earned a mighty reputation for their “crushing and intense attitude on stage”, a success including playing with bands such as Gallows, Blood Command, and Kvelertak. Drawing on inspirations from the likes of JR Ewing, Blood Command, and Kaospilot, Ondt Blod’s songs, as on the album, come with themes revolving around un-employment and industrial communities in decline as well as self-contempt and small town pride. Produced by Yngve Andersen (Blood Command, Girl Army) and mixed and mastered by Ariel Sivertsen and Brad Boatright respectively, Finnmark pulls no punches yet it also offers one of the most uncompromisingly catchy hardcore proposals in recent times.
Within seconds, the band has feet and hips as involved as a swiftly eager appetite for the band’s sound as opener Svarte Daga stomps in with nagging riffs and grooves amidst just as irritable yet anthemic rhythms. The grouchily growling tone of Kristoffer Joel Høe’s bass and in riffs in general easily hits the spot even before the raw rousing tones of vocalist Aslak Heika Hætta Bjørn, melodically backed by the alluring calls of the band, whips up a frenzy courted by a sonic web spun by the guitars.
It is a storming arousal of the senses and emotions backed up craftily by the less intensive but just as agreeably hooked littered Nye Lydspor. Not quite pop punk but certainly with a warmer tone and grin to its aggression, the song has a touch of Zebrahead to its engagingly volatile character again marked by a stirring bass snarl and the nagging prowess of guitarists Alexander Våga Mortensen and John Nilsen. The pair creates a fevered tempting which gnaws the senses as it leads the body into unbridled revelry, this enterprise just as tempting within Kompis Med Satan and its enjoyable blend of vocal deliveries. With each track sung in Norwegian, lyrically tracks are a mystery but the heart and emotions driving all are as open as the hefty and predatory swings of drummer Håvard Rushfeldt.
Tragedien Kommer brawls with the senses next, stamping its rhythmic feet as throats bleed with their roars before twisting things on their head by introducing a chorus of upbeat, almost ‘grown up’ vocal propriety and then going through the enjoyable process again as punk rock hooks and flirtatious ingenuity leap at ears. The track quickly has ears and emotions drooling, as too does the waspish irritancy of Gjengtegn and its belligerently devilish parade of unpredictable twists, sonic expression, and vocal dexterity.
Take any track from Finnmark and it epitomises the Ondt Blod sound and invention though no song sounds the same as proven again by the chest beating roar of Symbola. Like CIV meets fellow Norwegians Shevils, the track buzzes busily around ears as it burrows deep under the skin and into the psyche. Punk and hardcore colludes once more with fresh faced melodic drama and unbridled infection showered lures, the album’s variety unrelenting with the bruising and at times inhospitable 9900 Sodoma proving as it rages with ire upon the senses next. Equally it teases with some glorious anthemic bait led by hooks and the increasingly impressing vocal adventure across the band before Betongtro bears its vitriolic soul with creative tenacity and concussive intensity across calmer reflections and melodic detours.
The album is completed by firstly Brent Jord and its thick cloudy squall of sound and muggy sonic persuasion and finally the album’s title track which explores strains of post punk within its irritated disposition of emotion and sound. As its predecessor, the song moves into darker depths and richer arrays of flavours across its evocative landscape, and though it maybe does not make the same immediate impact as the riots before it, the tempestuous exploration grows to only enhance the enjoyment and invigorating experience of the album.
Norwegian hardcore seems to be going through a noisy, thrilling heyday right now with Ondt Blod right there helping lead the way, not only at home but as Finnmark proves, across the genre as a whole.
Finnmark is out now via Loyal Blood Records
Pete RingMaster 20/01/2016
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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