Oslo-based hardcore punk band Oberst are set to drop their debut EP ‘Paradise’ in a matter of days. The Norwegian newcomers have caught the eye with positive reviews from the likes of Metalhammer. In addition, they’ve also managed to land themselves a record deal with Indie Recordings. Combining a range of styles and influences, the band stand out from the rest of the competition. Upon listening to the album more carefully, you can hear the influences of bands such as Mastodon and Deftones, particularly in the shimmering guitar riffs. Anyway, let’s get into it.
Oberst introduce us with a very bright sounding track in the form of Vagabonds. An immediate injection of life and intent to the album, for new listeners, it gives an intriguing first impression. While some sections are vintage-bashing punk rock, others show that this band likes to lean on the experimental side too. Although they keep the 6/8 time throughout the song, they use the bridge section before the second chorus particularly well to give the bars an overlapping feel. This gives the song a different dimension in contrast to the bright punky choruses. The range of sounds and rhythms the band explore in this short space gives that bit of spice to the song, which I think this track required, more than some of the others. A Stranger Place part 2 follows this, and it’s a lot more straight-down-the-line punk. The aggressive and forceful vocal style matches the vibe of the song. It serves as an in-your-face jam song, not allowing the listener to form assumptions for the rest of the album. Instead, Oberst keep it interesting, incorporating melodic guitars into an instrumental section that really helps break up the song.
While they may be a punk band at heart, as I mentioned before, Oberst like to experiment and push the boundaries of their sound. They’re not just your average punk band, and their music really speaks for itself. On the song Fiends, the guitars play a herta-like rhythm in the verses, alternating between that and general chuggy punk riffs in the choruses. It’s almost like if Dream Theater and Green Day took turns in playing. Granted, that’s not the best analogy, but it emphasises the difference in the influences the band have. Throw some blastbeats and guitar solos in the mix and you’ve got just about everyone clueless of what to expect. Despite this, it makes for a cool tune.
Another song that covers itself in a multicoloured veil of inventiveness is Goddess. Bright and unique riffs open this track up, leaving an open path with many twists and turns. While you may have noticed it before, the early Underoath-like screams (if you can picture they’re only chasing safety) have a bit more presence about them in this particular song. Though this is the case, the vocals don’t detract from the rest of the instruments. Instead, it matches the ambition of the sound, and pushes it through your ears. However, there are other songs where you can hear and feel the strain of the voice. It makes for a very throat-generated scratchiness, where you feel like his voice might desert him at any given time. This style may be effective in some songs, but it might take a toll on your ears come the back end of the album.
Considering the hunger and potential that Oberst show, they’ve managed to produce a cluster of unique songs, which is no mean feat for an upcoming band. If they can follow it up by gaining an audience for their live shows and promoting their music amongst the metal community, they will be a force to be reckoned with. The music is very much there, now they’ve just got to introduce themselves as a breath of fresh air to the metal world.
Highlights: Vagabonds, Fiends, Goddess