2. The Bowling Pin
4. Gruesome Twosome
5. Only I Exist
6. Ladder to the Moon
8. Blind the Heat
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Looking into our musical crystal ball, I foresee that Norwegian artist Djerv may be one of the underground sensations of 2011, initiating their move towards mainstream acceptance faster than you can say Oslo. However, that’s not the sole reason why you should listen to their debut, but instead it is their peculiar mix of styles which may not be entirely unique, but is attractive and catchy enough to grab your attention for a long while.
Two old hands of black metal, Stonegard and Trelldom, are here found teaming up with singer Agnete Kjølsrud who made her mark with her previous rock band, Alpha Animal, and impressed the cognoscenti with her performance in Dimmu Borgir’s song "Gateways." This is a gruesome threesome indeed.
In Djerv’s music black metal remains only a slight reference lurking in the background. This is mostly mid-tempo dark rock/metal touched by punk rock attitude with the melodies and hypnotic voice of Agnete being the real sellers. Agnete’s vocals are so formidable that that you'll be reminded of Alli MacInnes of British electro-tinged dark rock band Fifth Amendment who undeservedly got stuck in obscurity around the Millennium. Agnete could easily pass as an even more passionate, twisted cousin of Ali. At times she also sounds a bit like Anneke von Giersbergen, former ethereal voice of groundbreaking gothic metal formation The Gathering, but, of course, the angelic Dutch singer could not even dream of becoming this aggressive and menacing. So it's probably better to imagine Anneke lost in some Norwegian fjords, bitten by nasty, rabid wild dogs and now desperately trying to find her way out.
Musically, there is not much denying that Kvelertak, who broke through last year with their black ‘n roll mix, can be a foremost point of reference in this case. Strangely enough, Djerv’s nine track debut somehow also recalls the latest release of another Scandinavian band, The Haunted, who unleashed an uncomfortably honest and brilliant collection of genre-defying songs some months earlier. To be frank, The Haunted was more metal, but the atmosphere and the quality is quite similar.
That said, some may easily dismiss Djerv as nothing more than a female-fronted, gothic-influenced Kvelertak-lite, but I am sure this debut should easily prove you wrong. Just don’t forget to kill the lights before putting it on, for the album's full effect.