Wow, there´s really a lot going on in Norway these days. Nationally already known bands finally are brave enough to take the leap and release their first international album. Also Dunderbeist (whoever figures out the meaning of the name, feel free to drop a comment) did it finally after four Norwegian publications and there is definitely no need for them to regret it by any means. The band consists of seven musicians, who made themselves well known in Norway by playing in other bands. The latest album, “Black Arts and Crooked Tails” holds eight songs from their previous production and two were done especially for this album. It´s a bit unfortunate that the Norwegians were a bit tight-fisted with the length of the album; a tad under 40 minutes playtime means that there could be one or two songs on top very well.
On the other hand, there would be a chance that these extra songs would have been just fillers, effectively destroying a near-perfect album. Thus I am still pleased during the second run of the album and pleasantly surprised by how varying and exciting “Black Arts and Crooked Tails” is. Just the infamous major thread to recognise the band is missing. The two vocalists Torgrim Tõrve and Åsmund Snortheim have great voices, which are easy to listen to –unlike their countryman from the band El Caco, which also just released their international debut. Dunderbeist set the bar high. The two guitarists, Fredrik Ryberg & Ronny Flissundet treat the ears with beautiful riffs without overdoing it. They are under Norwegian ranking high standard and this is saying a lot as the country offers only good, very good and excellent guitarists. The bass player, Kristian Liljan provides a very rich sound. Similarly to Slipknot, there is a percussionist, Ole Liserud Alexander (who also provides bird chirping and other cute elements to the songs) to support the drummer, John Birkeland Hansen. The septet come originally from Hedmark and moved southwest to Oslo. As the promo-photos show, they look like a mix between Pothead, Zorro, Clockwork Orange and Turbonegro. This should provide an interesting visual aspect to their live shows.
The opening track, “La Guerrette du Feu” (Lord of Fire), which is sung in English despite the implication, makes it very clear that one is dealing with musicians who know their craft. This song has strong influences to Hurt, yet it does not copy it. With the other songs it is quite similar as one can try to fish out the influences from each individual song. A harder and more complex version of Alice in Chains is to be found in “Through the Peephole”, “Fear and Loathing” and “The Worst Sentence” in which the hard rolled Rs provide pure pleasure. Audrey Horne´s “Bright Lights” may have been the role model for the unpredictable “Hum Hum”. Old Manson and Rob Zombie come in mind in “8 and Counting Crows”. System of a Down spiced up with some strong riffs produces “Winter Past”. The sound of “More Me” is a bit Korn-ish and “Lucifer Eyes” reminds one a bit of Nick Cave / Tom Waits. My personal highlight is “Shields Aligned”, which is like a really hard Pain song, peppered with Rammstein Rs –this probably makes me come out as terribly German.
Apart from the previously mentioned short playtime, the next issue is the awfully slick production by Alan Douches (Mastodon, Misfits, Cannibal Corpse, Kvelertak), which should have been left a lot less polished. Actually the short playtime isn´t that bad, because it leaves one hungry for more. Hearing some quite obvious influences in the songs is by no means a minus point as this remained as influences and didn´t cross the border of copying. Furthermore, it´s great fun to guess through the influences of each song with friends while listening to the various tracks. “Black Arts & Crooked Tails” is sophisticated and wild –a highlight of the still young 2012 and holds loads of songs, which can really easily get stuck in your head for the whole day –a real treat which will take many more turns in the player in the forthcoming weeks. Absolute must buy!