10 May 2022 - Knut
Post Hardcore /Hardcore Punk/Hard Alternative Rock/Indie | Vinter Records | Release date: 22 Apr 2022
The underground punk, hardcore and metal scene in Oslo is vibrant. New bands are formed regularly, existing bands enter live scenes and release new music constantly and because the scene is tight and supportive. Seasoned musicians find together to form new bands. Damokles is one such band. It is an underground supergroup from the Oslo scene with members from established bands as This Sect, Kite, Melkeveien, Endtimers, Dunderbeist, Contrarian, ZAP, Stonegard to name some. They founded the band in the autumn of 2019 and this album is a result of the feverish synergy between the band members, releasing through the new Oslo based label Vinter Records that already is building an interesting roster of successful bands.
In April they released this first brilliant album based on their inspiration from DIY hardcore, post hardcore, punk and indie scenes in the 80s and 90s. In their soundscape there are hooks and twists, captivating melodies, desperation and emotion as they lay out their dystopic visions of sitting under the Damokles´ sword hanging by a hair´s thread not knowing if or when it will fall. We knew what was boiling and bubbling in the band´s magic musical pot after some gigs after they had been dropping some tastings in the form of six singles since their inception.
It is an understatement to say they delivered as expected because this album is so good, the music so well written and delivered with a feral, urgent and distressed atmosphere. The album opens with traditional heavy metal riffs with the song ”Bodies get Bored”. The band swiftly leaves that safe path to dive into hardcore meets post punk music with the vocalist in an urgent and distressed mood, as he is generally throughout the album. The fast riffing from the guitars swirls the engaging melody the song is based on around. The drums and bass drive the music forward, sometimes to the front of the sonics. In the end the music goes off the rails and implodes in chaos.
The next song, ”Our Special Touch”, drives the sounds forward with the grooving bass at the center of attention. The guitars are revolving around the bass supporting the desperate vocals. Towards the end the impressive drumming takes over for a while and is a showcase of how the drums and rhythm section drives this music forward. The drumming is balancing between holding the pace and soloing. It is impressively well-done.
”Minature Garden” follows en suite and the melodic theme, that is both sung and played, will surely make for a gingantic group chorus from the audience at future gigs. The slow pace is driven forward by the rhythm section with the guitars lurking in the background before they rise up and join the vocals’ melody. Beside the sheer musicianship shown here, it also is a showcase of a very versatile vocalist. He also proves that on the next song, ”It´s Closing Time”. After a blues-like start the vocals and bass take over. Throughout the song the pace increases and leaves you almost breathless in the end.
The title song of the album ”Nights Come Alive” is versatile and the band releases their full potential without missing the focus of making engaging music. A heavy bass leads the way into a slower section. Throughout the song, the bass and drums lead the way with the guitars riffing and soloing. There is a breather in the middle with sound effects until the bass and drums push the heavy sonics forward with fast chaotic guitars and the vocalist seems desperate trying to catch up.
It ends in a scream and it is like the next song, ”Breathtaker” is interlocked with the previous song when the vocalist opens the song alone. The pace is slower in the beginning before the riffs and guitars rise above the grooving bass and march rhythm from the drums. The song gets more desperate before it quiets down towards the end. The next song, ”Dead Don´t Care”, has dissonant elements induced in the sonics before it ends with desperate vocals over a fading piano. ”Ms Misanthropy” changes the tune a bit as it has an effective muffled sound with the vocals more confronting over the bass and drums, screams in the background and with dissonant guitars thrown in and a choir in the background.
The band prepares for the end of the album with ”Carry or Crush” which takes us across soundscapes where both piano and synths are used to induce some chaos among the fast paced music. The album closes with ”Let´s Be Nothing” when the drums start the song joined by the vocals before the riffs from the guitars appear. It is a complicated song which shows a lot of visionary song writing pushing and bursting the borders of the genres they have used before unfolding a song with so many twists and hooks it makes you a bit dizzy. They improvise and dip into the alternative impro scene, before the music picks up pace and races full throttle to the end with muscular riffs, the versatile drums and bass pushing the fast riffing forward while the vocals are lagging behind.
Because of the many surprising twists, swivels and turns on this album, it might leave you a bit giddy after the first listen. After repeated listens I am sure you will, as me, be humming along with the songs and also catch yourself humming the melodies even when not playing the album as there are enough captivating melodies here to create persistent ear worms.