Love ‘em or hate ‘em, one cannot deny the success of Norway’s Kvelertak. One would also be a lying sack of shit if they claimed to be unsurprised by the band’s success, saying that they saw it coming from the off. And with human beings being the lemmings we are, and musicians being the worst form of lemming, the success of Kvelertak has seen a number of bands follow in their stylistic wake. Think Man the Machetes, Blood Command, ieatheartattacks, Ondt Blood and The Good, the Bad and the Zugly and any other band that is considered even a conversational consideration. Kvelertak is arguably also the reason their Norse predecessors like JR Ewing, Wolves Like Us, Purified in Blood, Torch and Amulet haven’t faded away into absolute obscurity. So, where do The Nika Riots fall amid all this?
The history of this particular Oslo-based hardcore punk act involves scene veterans who have contributed to the aforementioned Man the Machetes, Torch and ieatheartattacks continuing to get their terse and angular groove on while vocals holler both gravelly and cleanly. The Nika Riots toy with a sound that’s not as raw as the gristly and patch-strewn side of the hardcore scene would prefer, but do an admirable job of connecting the dots between the darker, minor key moods with major keys painted in day-glo colours.
The guitars of Jørgen Sporsheim Berg and Kristian Fjeldstad, clipped pitter-patter rhythms of Moppers Myren and Christopher Iversen’s sandpapery salute to ‘90s metalcore provide the sinister side while the actual drum sound culls the splash from an Atom Willard (Rocket From the Crypt, Danko Jones) trap kit, hammer-on/pull-off trill riff resolution and Iversen’s moody crooning keep things sounding upbeat and positive. Think Botch and (of course) Kvelertak colliding with Every Time I Die and Cancer Bats.
Set Fire straddles a fine line in that it is the band’s debut, so the lack of identity and obvious references to well-worn tropes and more popular bands – whether those bands have frontmen strutting round with giant owl masks on their heads or not – is forgivable. But given the experience within the ranks, there is a greater sense of expectation that the next release will follow quickly and exude more personality and individuality.
Set Fire Track Listing:
01. Anti-Social Social Club
02. Knock ‘em Dead
03. Kill This Chaos
04. Hanged Drawn & Quartered
05. Skeleton Crew
06. All Hail the Queen
Run Time: 24:12
Release Date: January 20, 2018
Stream the band’s video for the thrilling single “Anti-Social Social Club” here.