White Tundra, Honningfella (All Good Clean Records 2021)

Norway’s White Tundra is coming out hot with new seven-inch riffery that’ll get you groovin’.

The band is fairly new, having formed into a single unit just a few years ago. Last year, they released the Graveyard Blues EP, and now we have this new single seven. It is a riff-and-groove affair, like riding in a dune buggy in the sun while watching encroaching storm clouds on the horizon.

“Honningfella” sounds like a giant tromping the ground and swinging small trees around. The steady pulsing guitars and single-along moments make this song a heavy rotation necessity.

They get the wood block out for “One More Place,” making me nostalgic for the 70s. This one is more of a sitting down song that the A-side track. Take a load off, imbibe, nod your head. Repeat.

We don’t cover singles much here but this new White Tundra release was just so much fun there was no way to resist. Super fuzzy, extra buzzy. Recommended.

You can pick this up right now – hit the links below. The digital is out and the physicals ship in early July.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://whitetundra.bandcamp.com/album/honningfella

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/WhiteTundraBand

All Good Clean Records, https://www.allgoodcleanrecords.com/

White Tundra, Honningfella (All Good Clean Records 2021)

Gorr, Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket (2021)

Norwegian metal duo Gorr strike back with their second album in as many years.

Gorr is Gjøran Sæther, known as Skuggimaðr, and Evan Barton, known as Hateful Wind. The band is in the earlier stages and is still growing into its emerging identity. The musicians have done a lot of work under different fronts and so the experience the have, even if it is relatively new, is also notably deep.

The opening track has a desert vibe to it, which works in arctic environments, too. A solitary guitar alongside a hissing vocal is all that is utilized for the first minute and a half, and then minimal percussion swings in to finish it off. The very next song opens full blast with the vocals mixed heavy into the forefront, posting very black metal. Side one wraps on the contemplative “Mørkt Føre, Mørke Bak” – distressed, forlorn, hopeless.

Rapid riffs crack open the second triplet, forging an opening for rampaging percussion. “Ditt Uendelege Raseri” has a similar opening but a different trajectory, and it is more driving and persistent. The closing song has a droning quality to it at the jump, and an overwhelming, hyper-stimulated essence along with a new raspiness to the vocal. Any intimation of relief is entirely gone by now, and it is no longer simply sadness, it is suffering.

The artists describe the album, in part, this way: “The duality in relying on nature for survival and the very clear sense of doom that follows closely is reflected through this album. Life and death, combat and construction, noble goals and meaningless losses. This is Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket.” Even without the explanation many of these ideas come through very clearly in the music. It makes sense to me. Recommended.

Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket is out now and Bandcamp is the place to pick it up in the US.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://gorr.bandcamp.com/album/kvit-som-sn-en-kald-i-blikket

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/gorrbm

Website, https://gorr.no/

Gorr, Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket (2021)

Slaves To Fashion, The History Of Heavy Metal (2021)

Slaves to Fashion celebrates metal with a history lesson that will make you want to bang your head.

The band from Haugesund, Norway started out nearly twenty years ago as P:O:B. After a few lineup shuffles, they changed their name to Slaves To Fashion, releasing an EP in 2009 and then a long-player in 2011, Artistic Differences. They were playing a version of prog metal then, expressing their art through precision. The principals on the current album are Johannes Støle (vocals), Torfinn Sirnes (guitar), John Lind (bass), Vidar Ingvaldsen (drums), and Stein Arild Grønås (guitar).

The idea behind The History Of Heavy Metal is to celebrate heavy metal in all its guises. Each song therefore focuses on a specific period in the evolution and spread of metal, branching out along the lineage in sometime surprising ways. Which subgenres exactly? Have a look at the cool chart developed by the band inserted at the end of this review. There are a lot of different flavors of heavy music.

There are ten tracks on the album, ranging from the radio-friendly three minutes of “The NU Wine” to the epic thirteen minute rapture of “The Evergrowing Tree.” This is not a goof – in every case the music is rock solid and a genuine respectful homage to the type, with a number of playful references thrown in the lyrics that fans will spot immediately. I don’t have a favorite because they are all good but I do have a strong affection for that big 13-minute track as it is a showcase of just about everything, and the opener, “1970,” is a loving tribute to the early days and it hits home with me. Without fail, there is something here for every metal fan. Recommended.

The official release date for the CD and digital versions is Saturday, February 13th. Hit the Bandcamp link below. There will also be a special edition vinyl version later in the year that will include three bonus tracks.

Band photo by Stones Photography.

Flowchart from the band’s Facebook page.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://slavestofashion.bandcamp.com/album/the-history-of-heavy-metal

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/slavestofashionband/

Website, https://www.slavestofashion.net/

Slaves To Fashion, The History Of Heavy Metal (2021)

Warzaw, Werewolves On Wheels (2021)

The Trøndelag, Norway four piece throw-back metal band Warzaw rips a new one out.

There are/have been a number of bands and albums with the title “Werewolves On Wheels” running around out there over the years. This one is from Norway and is made up of Daniel Rønning (vocals), Håvard Alvarez (guitar), Trond Jullumstrø (guitar and bass), and Mats Sødahl (drums). The stated goal of these seasoned professionals is to “make energetic, riff-packed music reminiscent of the glory days of 80s heavy metal.” I am down with that.

Werewolves On Wheels has eleven songs with tongue-in-cheek themes and good-time metal riffs and melodies. The title tracks starts things off with a high-voltage up-tempo riff and a howl of party energy. A great lead shred lands just past the middle, where it belongs, and is followed up with an immediate second one. Bonus. “The Second Banana” comes next, picking up the flag and waving it at the other side of the stadium. It puts me in mind of Alcatrazz a little, maybe a little bit of Blue Murder (but less serious). What they are doing is what they said they wanted to do – lay down some great catchy riffs in the same vein as all those 80s bands, many of which we’ve lost to our degraded memories. Every song on the album is a new crack and they are all razor sharp.

I really like this album. Keep in mind that the style is just the starting point – they still have to write and perform the music. While the themes Warzaw is working with here are meant to be on the light side, the music rides on iron rails. The riffs and rhythms are creative and the playing is impeccable. Rønning’s voice would have worked back them and it is perfect now for this new metal. Count me in. Recommended.

Werewolves On Wheels is out now and available on Spotify. I am not sure if there is any way to actually buy this or not, but you can certainly stream it for free. I have added the YouTube link below as well so you can check out the videos.

Links.

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/warzawband

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZxg45Ijq7UkZQ-37lc0jxQ

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/album/6uaM8PL3elIV86lz9x1bmS?si=qZlCm3tMRtiK0ugVHP288A

Warzaw, Werewolves On Wheels (2021)

Enslaved, Utgard review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

The incredible 15th album from the Bergen, Norway metal band Enslaved is Utgard, another impressive achievement in their long career.

The most recent previous studio album was E in 2017, and the songs on that album were generally long (most around eight minutes or longer), which is the usual way Enslaved creates music. On Utgard, the band’s compositions are tighter and yet every bit as creative as earlier releases. The band is now made up of long-time members Grutle Kjellson (vocals and bass), Ivar Bjørnson (guitars and effects), and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal (guitars), along with newer recruits Håkon Vinje (keyboards and vocals) and Iver Sandøy (drums). The confluence of these musical elements is an alchemy all its own.

“Fires In The Dark” opens with an acapella treatment (in Norwegian), followed by an acoustic guitar moment, sudden heavy riffs, wispy atmospheric sounds, then a narrative element. Sort of a heavy version of Andrew Lloyd Weber in that it is a big production and a complex construction. The melodies in the guitars have a very magic carpet, djinn feel to them in the second half – a mystical desert vibe. The integration of diverse elements is the mainstay throughout. “Jettegryta,” the next song, does this too, in a very different way. It is not simply the variation of coarse and clean vocals but also shifts in musical cadence and style, sometimes perpendicularly, that throw you off cliff after cliff then lift you up on hurricane winds. We hear Epic Metal then Prog then a classic metal riff, here and there and all around.

On side two, “Urjotun” is a peppy straight-up prog rock song that is taken over by darkness as it progresses. “Flight of Thought and Memory” wells up feelings of sorrow and regret, while “Storms of Utgard” is more confrontational with amazing lead guitar work. The closing song is “Distant Seasons.” You can feel the curtain falling when it begins in its quiet and gentle way, but the power wells up soon enough. The relatively brief nature of the songs is a departure in a way for the band, but all the elements we have come to expect from Enslaved are nevertheless here in full force. Recommended.

Out now from Nuclear Blast, you can get Utgard on CD and vinyl and of course as a download – Bandcamp is best place for the digital.

Links.

Band: http://enslaved.no/

Band Bandcamp: https://enslaved.bandcamp.com/album/utgard

Band Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/enslaved

Nuclear Blast Shop: https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/vinyl/lp/enslaved-utgard-black-vinyl-.html

Enslaved, Utgard review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Hymn, Breach Us review (Fysisk Format 2020)

Hymn is back with Breach Us, a further exploration of the chaos that exists in the sludge.

There are only two members in the Norwegian band Hymn, Ole Ulvik Rokseth on guitars and vocals, and Markus Støle handling drums. The Spartan simplicity of the membership is not obvious in the music, which has a robust and full sound. We might have to categorize the music as doom or sludge, but it is more of a duopoly of heavy inspiration, really, writ large.

Perish was the first album by Hymn, released in 2017. It is a dramatic piece of adventure, like scaling a mountain in a free climb. Breach Us is more polished and refined in all aspects, ranging from the vocals to the compositions themselves, even in the parts that seem improvisational in their rawness.

There are four songs on the new album, and it definitely has a Side 1 and Side 2 feel. “Breach Us” and “Exit Through Fire” are the first couplet, and these songs bear the greatest resemblance to the first album both in the singing and the presentation of the drums and pulsing riffs. Guest appearances by David Johansson and Guro Moe add greater depth and broader reach to the second two entries, “Crimson” and “Can I Carry You.” This is especially noticeable on the latter, which has distinct movements in the fourteen and a half minutes of the song that demonstrates shifts in feeling and style. The biggest single presence throughout is the strumming guitar that generates heavy riffs, occasionally perpendicular to each other. There is a pliant verisimilitude that permeates these musical creations, and it gives me the feeling that Breach Us portends ascent.

CD, vinyl, and download formats are ready to go at Bandcamp, and of course you can stream it all at Spotify and the other usual places.

Cover art by Danny Larsen.

Links.

https://urskoghymn.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/hymnoslo

https://www.fysiskformat.no

https://www.facebook.com/fysiskformat

Hymn, Breach Us review (Fysisk Format 2020)