I don’t make a real habit of reviewing an EP because EPs aren’t really considered to be a “happening” in the musical sense of the word. They aren’t an event in the traditional sense that an LP is, rarely longer than about 15 or 20 minutes it’s hardly not anything to get too excited about. But Norway’s Djerv, a combination of vocalist Agnete KjÃ¸lsrud (Animal Alpha), Erlend Gjerde (Wardruna) and Stian KÃ¥rstad of the mighty Trelldom, have created a fascinating fusion of sounds that was something that I didn’t want to pass up.
I can say with all certainty that this isn’t something that is going to appeal to everyone, but from the opening notes of the title track “Headstone”, I was pretty much hooked. The music is like a combination between the punk rock female fronted bands of the 80s, vaguely gothic undertones and trad rock with a black metal sensibility to it. To be honest, I’ve never heard anything quite like it before, but I can say that I’m not a big fan of any female fronted rock bands these days (that I can think of off the top of my head), so Djerv is pretty groundbreaking for me.
Agnete KjÃ¸lsrud is actually a hell of a vocalist, with her melodies and style ranging between the near amelodic (and slightly reminiscent of Morphine) in “Headstone” and the gentle and delicate in “Immortal”, she shows that she is a highly dynamic vocalist with a really unique voice. I have to say, as well, that Stian KÃ¥rstad’s guitar work is also helpful in creating what I think is a really unique sound. There are clear parts where it’s obvious to me that this is the same dude who was in Trelldom, particularly on the second track “Ladder to the Moon”, at the end of “Headstone”, and at the beginning of the track “Immortal”, where the heavier parts definitely give a nod to Til Et Annet…, but it’s like taking that raw playing and mixing it into something this commercially viable and different works as pretty excellent camouflage.
Every track on this EP is worth listening to, as I’m sure you can tell. At 12 and a half minutes, however, it’s hard to say anything really conclusive about the band, except that if I’d received this as a demo I’d’ve probably pursued a contract. There is some pretty serious potential in these tracks and if the band can maintain the sort of originality and intensity for the full length (which incidentally will be out in March[ish] 2011), then we’re looking at a band that I’m going to be following with baited breath.