Studfaust- Where the Underdogs Bark

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Every weekend I go through my endless list of promos and put some albums on my phone to spend time with during my daily commute. I usually pick a mix of bands I’m familiar with and artists I’ve never come across before to ensure that I find some cool new music. One of my finds this week was Norway’s Studfaust, which is a collaboration between Tore Bratseth (Bömbers, The Batallion), Faust (Blood Tsunami, Emperor), and Pete Evil (Blood Tsunami) that finds the trio writing high energy heavy metal and punk with a sleaze rock edge. Their debut EP Where the Underdogs Bark is out in a couple of weeks via Soulseller Records, and it’s filled with one great riff after the other. It may not be uncommon for metal musicians to form side projects like these where they have let loose with some alcohol fueled heavy metal/punk, but Studfaust stands above some of the others out there thanks to their catchy as hell material.

Where the Underdogs Bark doesn’t waste any time with intros or interludes, instead opting to launch right into high flying riffs that immediately grab your attention and will make you want to turn your stereo all the way up and piss off your neighbors. Studfaust straddles the line between heavy metal and punk, with a healthy dose of sleaze rock attitude thrown into the mix. Each of the seven tracks flies by fairly quickly, but this time is well utilized as every single one has a different lead riff that will stick with you. It’s a familiar style, not dissimilar from what some of the other Norwegian metal musicians have put together as side projects over the years, but the difference here is that the songs have real staying power. Seriously, listen to a track like “Street Judge’s Gavel” or “Erection of the Egoist” and I think you’ll immediately want to hit the repeat button to hear those infectious leads all over again. Studfaust also throws in a little glam/sleaze rock style song with the closing number “1980’s Lady” which takes the aggressive edge from the instrumentals down a notch in favor of a more traditional hard rocking piece. I can definitely appreciate the fact that Where the Underdogs Bark incorporates just as much influence from old-school punk as it does from the standard Venom/Motörhead, and that’s one of the main reasons it stuck with me.

Tore Bratseth (though he goes by Stud Bronson here) handles all of the vocal work on the EP, and he is able to deliver that aggressive edge that is necessary with this type of music. His pitch is a gruffer bark that cuts through the instrumentals and demands your attention, and it’s a perfect fit for what Studfaust is going for. Bratseth lightens up a bit for “1980’s Lady” and does his best at delivering a clean pitch that is dripping with sleaze. This type of vocal range is where a lot of projects of this type fall short, as their singers are better suited for extreme pitches and don’t transition over to the cleaner ones nearly as well, but that’s not the case here and I was convinced by the time the song was over that the group could pull off a whole album worth of these glam/sleaze rock tunes if they wanted to. The lyrical content is about what you’d expect for the genre, and while it’s fairly typical I can’t complain too much when it’s delivered with this type of edginess.

There are all sorts of side projects out there where metal musicians pay tribute to the heavy/speed metal and punk that inspired them, but Studfaust is one of the better ones I’ve heard in the last few years. The songs may sound very familiar stylistically, but the riffs are so damn catchy that I believe most listeners who give Where the Underdogs Bark will come back for more. Hopefully this is just the beginning and these three will find time to continue writing this type of high energy material, as they definitely have me convinced that they can pull it off with ease.

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