Oslo’s Fysisk Format record label (link) may be only five years old but in that time it has released some of the greatest and noisiest records to come out of Norway in recent years.
Late October sees the label host a showcase at The Old Blue Last, featuring three acts on their current roster aiming to, well, showcase what the label has to offer.
Openers Dark Times is a three-piece in the most no-nonsense traditional sense of the term: one bassist, one guitarist/vocalist and a drummer. They reside on the fringe between hardcore and post-punk. Often it’s lightning quick, sometimes a bit slower – but it’s always intense, thanks partly to Ann Kristin Traaen’s vocals. On this evidence there are definitely no half measures in their punchy approach to punk rock.
If Dark Times give us whirlwind set, the mighty and many-membered Haust offer something more akin to hurricane-force hardcore. Curly-haired frontman Vebjørn Guttormsgaard Møllberg is an unnerving presence, and if anyone has perfected the crazed thousand-yard stare, then it is him.
The lyrics are delivered in a way that is utterly sinister and demonic. The weight of guitars, bass and drums in the backing is hefty and its attack relentless. When you think about it, ‘Raw Material’ seems less like a song title (taken from current full-length, ‘NO’) and more of a mission statement for Haust.
Last up, Årabrot (pictured) play a blend of the old and new. Though the line-up has changed – Vidar Evensen departing – not much else has. Kjetil Nernes is the natural and usual focal point on guitar mixed with his growled, yelped and whined vocals. New track ‘Throwing Rocks At The Devil’ is an early highlight, heavy on the cymbals and with a customary pummelling chorus. Tonight is a kind-of “no surprises” affair from the band, and that is just fine. In fact, it’s perfect. If you’ve got the songs, play them and play them loudly.
As great as new tracks from the current self-titled album are, there’s no escaping what a beast of a record 2011’s ‘Solar Anus’ is, and those songs are always a pleasure to witness in person. ‘Madonna Was A Whore’ is probably as close they get to pop, and ‘Nubile’ also gets an airing, but it is the mammoth ‘And The Ass Had Spoken’ which hits the hardest. It’s a sludgy five-minute trudge through the elements that make Årabrot great. Line-up change or no line-up change, Nernes and co. give you exactly what you expect and moreover want.
Norway has never wanted for dark and noisy guitar-driven music in one form or another and, although it will not be surprising to those familiar with the label, it is nevertheless reassuring to know that Fysisk Format is continuing to support and release music in this vein.
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Words: Luke Slater
Photo: Monica Santos Herberg
Too noisy for you? Check out Clash’s easier-on-the-ears Pop Issue.