Haust- Bodies

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Norwegian hardcore punk band Haust first found their way into my speakers in 2013 with their full length No. It was an album that intrigued me quite a bit, as in between the punchy riffs and abrasive vocals one would expect from the genre there were some sprawling keyboard driven moments that mellowed things out considerable and hinted at a more experimental side. Two years later, Haust has returned with Bodies and it’s clear that they’ve honed these elements and expanded their sound considerably. It takes a little longer to get a handle on this one compared to the band’s previous efforts, but it’s worth spending the time to do so as the weirder and spaced out moments only help to further distinguish these guys from their peers.

No had a good degree of separation between the straight-up hardcore punk and the experimental elements, but they’ve been further mashed together on Bodies. Songs might start off with some punchier riffs that attack the listener with aggression before sprawling out into a zoned out psychedelic haze. Haust does their best to keep you off balance the entire time, moving between punk’s jagged edges, noise rock’s sudden jolts, and a healthy dose of drugged out post punk meets no wave weirdness. Although there are still songs like “Body Melt” that have riffs that instantly pull you in and make you want to crank the volume all the way up, a significant portion of the album takes some time to fully take in. Bodies is one of those releases where certain tracks might pass you by the first couple of listens before they start to click and you find yourself hitting repeat more and more. It’s a combination that works quite well, as the band’s ability to lull you into a daze with spaced out guitar leads and plodding basslines before jumping right back into the attack helps to set them apart. And yes, the keyboards and synths that seemed to come out of left field on No are back, though they’re a bit more subtle here and are merged with the rest of the instrumentals to add to the haziness rather than steal the spotlight.

One element that has stayed fairly consistent on each of Haust’s albums is the harsh screams of singer Vebjørn Guttormsgaard Møllberg. Even with the shift towards mellower instrumentation there hasn’t been any toning down of the vocals, which makes each and every word cut through the layers of sound and grab your attention. Møllberg’s always been one of my favorite elements of the group’s music, as his higher pitched scream never dips in intensity and has the type of rawness and bite that’s perfectly suited for punk of any kind. This stands out even more now that the instrumentals are focused on melodic layers rather than constant harsh blasts, which allows the vocals to completely tower over them. I also found that the lyrics started to grab me with repeated spins, as they come off as a bit tongue in cheek and downright weird at times which is a nice change of pace from all the usual themes that tend to be focused on in this type of music.

On Bodies, Haust has broadened their sound outwards while still maintaining the gritty punk and rock ‘n roll spirit alive. Compared to their previous full lengths this one doesn’t quite have the same sense of immediacy, with quite a few of the songs taking time to completely sink in. But after a few spins this album begins to really get under your skin and sweep you into its psychedelic haze and bursts of aggression and you’ll likely find yourself coming back for just another taste. With hints of no wave, post punk, and other styles all intertwined with that old-school punk edginess, Haust has reached a point where they’re diverging from the norm and finding a unique space to occupy and it should be interesting to see where this transformation takes them next.

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