So here’s an old record that has been out since June (so I guess it’s not old, but in the world of reviewing that’s a motherfucking eternity). I’ve been meaning to get to it and I just really haven’t had the time or level of mental stability to do it. But now that we’re on a more even keel and the urge to kill is lessening a bit, I’ve been able to come back to this one. And boy am I glad I’ve come back to this one. Because as I said when I reviewed their EP: Djerv is something that is actually truly cool and unique.
By now you’re all probably familiar with Agnete Kj¸lsrud, who of late has done guest vocals for Solefald and Dimmu Borgir (and even has a video with the latter band). She fronts Djerv with her unique and dynamic vocal approach. Djerv also sports Erlend Gjerde (Wardruna) and Stian KÃ¥rstad of Trelldom as the band and they offer what I would say is one of the most unique approaches to hard rock that I’ve heard in a really long time. I commented in my previous review that Djerv sounded a bit like alternative rock mixed with black metal and Djerv doesn’t change the approach. The previous EP is included here, which helps, but the new tracks here also show off this dynamic and unique approach.
So what does that even mean? A mixture of alternative rock and black metal? Well, musically it can be pretty simplistic and chordy as one would expect. It kind of reminds me Elastica or The Breeders and that early 90s chick rock in a sense, except its denser, heavier and way more interesting. A great example of this is the track “Ladder to the Moon” which was also featured on the Headstone EP, it takes that sort of grungy vibe and then throws double kick under them just adding a bit of a more metal sensibility. On the other hand “Only I Exist,” one of the new tracks, has guitars that sound like they could be on a Trelldom or Taake record, only without the blast. The true is same of “Abmuse,” but after the intro where you could’ve expected the croaks of a corpse-painted and evil Norwegian, instead you get the dynamic and fantastic vocals of Agnete.
Sometimes it is the band that makes the vocalist good, but sometimes it’s the vocalist that makes the band good (think System of a Down). In this case, while the band is good and the music is interesting, it is Agnete’s dynamic vocal approach which ranges between punk rock raw grrl kind of stuff and smooth, beautiful, nuanced vocals that really show off her range and ability that make the music work in an ostensibly “hard rock” or “alternative rock” setting. Djerv can wander into the creepy and the dark and bring it back around all because they have a serious talent on their hands vocally and she is the ribbon that ties this package together.
Finally, while Djerv isn’t exactly the heaviest metal you’ve ever heard, it’s raw enough to keep you interested and it’s actually something your non-metal friends might even dig. I certainly never anticipated some of the comparisons I’ve made while listening to this record, but I don’t see this as drawback. Instead, Djerv‘s dynamic approach is a boon. They keep shit interesting and the music is fun and engaging while being heavy and crunchy at times and still sounds downright malevolent at other times. Djerv is a great record and I strongly recommend that you run out and pick this up. It’s out everywhere (except the US? But certainly you can find it via online stores like The End Records or something) and it’s worth giving a shot.