Trældom EP

Written by: AP on 31/01/2014 22:23:37

Bersærk, from Lystrup near Denmark's second city Århus, were presented by last year as the third band of their bi-monthly "New Shit" initiative, which aims to unearth and promote domestic acts from the deepest underground; and at a showcase for these "New Shit" bands at the beginning of January, the self-proclaimed Jutlandian tractor rock quartet scraped the floor with the remaining five. Not because the other five had nothing to offer; but rather, because Bersærk cut such a stunning figure that they couldn't keep up. The magnificence of their concert ignited my immediate interest in the band, and as such, it should come as no surprise that I now wish to share with you my thoughts on their debut EP "Trældom".

I realise that the term tractor rock is a little enigmatic, so at the risk of demolishing the mystery Bersærk wish to veil their style in, a better way to describe their sound would be to label it a fusion of desert rock à la Queens of the Stone Age and blues rock in the vein of Clutch, with a generous dusting of sludge metal. None of this is groundbreaking, mind you - not even vocalist Casper Roland Popp's decision to sing entirely in his native tongue; but the songs are played with a kind of unhinged flair that is absolutely infectious from the get-go. Each line of lyric is delivered by Popp with power and bravado that remind me in equal parts of Neil Fallon (Clutch), Johan Olsen (Magtens Korridorer - a revered Danish alternative rock/punk band) and Rune Bæk (Plöw); each thump of percussion courtesy of Rene Holmboe is struck with imposition; and each strum of bass and guitar by Bastian Popp & Lars Evers respectively, roars with hellbent intent. That intent being to drive the listener into a headbanging frenzy.

Fortunately, the reality of Bersærk's music is not quite as ephemeral as it appears on the surface. There is a seductive darkness and air of threat to the tone of Evers' riffs, Casper Popp's verse is elusive, yet poetic; and Holmboe & Bastian Popp rarely settle for crossing where the fence is lowest when it comes to inventing a rhythmic foundation (the eerily rumbling bass and odd timing of the standout "Lugten af frygt" is a fine example of their joint prowess). It certainly does not damage the result either, that the songs are still accessible enough to implant themselves onto your cerebral cortex - perhaps not always at once, but in time - via passages like the gang roared chorus of "Det er nu! Det er tid, min ven! / Vågn op! Vi er først lige kommet igang / Vi rejser os igen og igen / Selv når du bløder din allersidste sang!" (translating roughly to "It's now! It's time, my friend! / Wake up! We've only just begun / We'll rise up again and again / Even when you're bleeding your very last song!") in the aforementioned "Lugten af frygt" (the stench of fear).

Granted, the first three tracks do subscribe to a pretty basic QOTSA formula of jabbing rhythms and searing Southern grooves. But at the same time, they exude energy and passion. And to conclude the record, Bersærk flash their tradecraft when it comes to writing progressive music, too; with the title track ending things on a lengthy, nostalgic and grandiose note that sounds very much like the prog-sludge mastery of Bombus or Plöw. I must confess, however, to finding it all a tad more exhilirating in the live setting, as it is there that the punch of Bersærk's music is truly felt. Be that as it may, "Trældom" brands Bersærk as the definitive one to watch from 2013, and there are much worse ways to dispense your dimes than on a copy of the EP.

Download: Cyklus, Lugten af Frygt, Trældom
For the fans of: Bombus, Plöw, Queens of the Stone Age
Listen: Facebook

Release date 21.12.2013

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