(Loyal Blood Records)
“Hardcore” is often used as an umbrella term to describe a multitude of musical styles and nuances. Since its humble beginnings, punk’s faster, angrier brother has influenced the creation of many crossover subgenres. Crust, post-hardcore, powerviolence, mathcore and others, are all derivative of hardcore in some shape or form. Because hardcore is such a versatile genre, many artists have experimented with it even further by combining a number of its subgenres together, along with other styles. Norway’s Ondt Blod is a band that does just that and does a fine job of doing it. The band’s combination of all things chaotic, and their love of hooks, makes for a unique and simultaneously catchy and pummeling listen.
Finnmark, the quintet’s debut full-length, is a rather short listen. Clocking in at just under a half-hour, Finnmark gets down to business quick and completely wrecks the place by the time it’s done. The music is characterized, as mentioned previously, by an amalgam of different hardcore-oriented styles and a love for melodies and catchy choruses. This erratic genre blending is fluid, focused and pulled off with such finesse that it never once sounds contrived. The record begins with an outburst of groove-laden, metallic eccentricity on “Svarte Daga”, which immediately reminds listeners of modern hardcore darlings Every Time I Die, or the even Iceland’s Muck. The instrumentation quickly switches from jarring rhythmic bursts to straightforward pummeling during the choruses. The vocals alter themselves to match the musical change by cycling between vitriolic screams and gang vocal chants on the drop of a dime. This volcanic opening number is followed by the head-turning, metallic hardcore meets pop-punk stormer “Nye Lydspor. The song switches back and forth between melodic chord progressions and dissonant, bending riffs throughout. It’s quite enthralling to hear the band conjure saccharine hooks and immediately follow them up with corrosive guitar punishment. These two tracks are only the tip of the iceberg, as the album becomes more multifaceted as it progresses. “Kompis Med Satan” begins with tremolo-picked grooves and blast beats before it bleeds into an insanely catchy chorus that sticks to the brain like peanut butter. The sonic exuberance eventually dies into a short bridge of metallic blues before launching into a final assault of dissonant, head-caving chords. More standout tracks include the destructive black metal/hardcore hybrid “Symbola”, and the wholly melodic post-hardcore tune “Brent Jord”. The title track brings the record to a close on a powerful note. After a short dirge of swelling distortion and clean melodies, the band churn out processions of somber chords and intensive drumming. The opening ambient overture makes an appearance again during the bridge, which gives way to a climax of melancholic, incendiary riffs. Once “Finnmark”s closing drones fade away, it will be hard for listeners to resist hitting “play” again and again.
Bludgeoning riffs, metallic chaos and earworm hooks are a few of the wonderful things Ondt Blod’s Finnmark has to offer. This Scandinavian outfit’s eclectic style and willingness to experiment make for an insanely fun listen that warrants repeated visits. It’s a half-hour of mania that will appease to hardcore fans on all sides of the spectrum. Ondt Blod couldn’t ask for a better way to introduce themselves to the world. (Lane Oliver)