Wolves Like Us - Black Soul Choir

Entirely immersing and toweringly emotional.

Label: Prosthetic Records

Rating:

While the more uninitiated might associate the heavier end of Norway’s music scene with church burnings and corpse paint, there has been something of a revival in more ‘mainstream’ Norwegian rock of late. Led by owl-toting nutters Kvelertak, a fresh crop of bands have started turning heads in the direction of the land of the midnight sun and now Oslo’s Wolves Like Us are back with their second full length to plunder and pillage your ears like Vikings storming Lindisfarne.

Indeed, with a pedigree honed playing with the likes of angular hardcore merchants J R Ewing and an impressive debut already under their belts, the commanding thwack of ‘Black Soul Choir’ is, it’s fair to say, not entirely unexpected. What is maybe slightly more surprising is the vigour and depth which the quartet ring out of these eleven tracks. To describe it as having the influence of Hüsker Dü, Hot Water Music and Leatherface would certainly attest to Larsh Kristensen’s throaty, whisky-stained vocal delivery but speaks little of the spaced out, metallic instrumentation which serves as its backdrop. Hard riffing moments collide with slithers of guitar feedback and needling treble to produce something that is both entirely immersing and toweringly emotional.

Perhaps the finest trick is that the restraint with which Wolves Like Us execute the more subtle moments on ‘Black Soul Choir’ leaves them with the credits in the bank to really make it stick when they decide to put their collective foot to the crunch pedal. This sense of tidal ebb and flow is more reminiscent of a band like Cave In than the aforementioned gruff punk and the combination of those influences together leads to the whole thing feeling both full of spirit and vim as well as possessing a decidedly cerebral quality.

Chunky, neatly devised and deeply satisfying – this is the sound of staring into a black winter puddle while a nearby bird squirts a veneer of soothing melody onto proceedings. A record that you could easily get lost in ‘til sundown if the mood takes you. And in Norway that can be a very long time.