Norwegian band Once Awake describe their intoxicating metal sound as “fast, groovy and brutal,” which sounds awesome but doesn’t even come close to doing justice to how good this band is.
The Bergen quartet of Frode Hennoe (vocals), Hans Petter Solen (lead guitar, producer), Andrè Kongestøl Solberg (guitar and vocals) and Ørjan Paulsen (drums) mix, produce and master their own music in an attempt to make it as hard-hitting and unique as possible.
They fuse huge screamed vocals with contrasting melodic choruses, as well as a mix of big djenty guitars, delicious riffs and solos, and powerful rhythms, all of which are heavily inspired by the unmistakable sound of Swedish melodic death metal.
The band just released a four-track EP Fold, from which they sent us the track Becoming Alive. It opens up with a lively high-pitched guitars that drops into a heavy opening verse of powerful vocals over stabbing guitars and driving drums. The intensity increases with diving guitars, gives way to the opening guitars and another powerful verse takes over, then feeds into a huge chorus of screamed vocals “I become so alive, When I dive into your eyes, Never change that smile, I become alive” and drops into the opening guitars again.
A second chorus gives way to a guitar solo over chugging guitars and drums, then a cool little riff over doomy cymbals feeds into a final blast of the chorus. Check out this huge track in the lyric video here:
A personal favourite track from the EP is Listen To Yourself, which begins with building guitars that are obliterated by huge guttural vocals over a cool darting riff. It all suddenly cuts out, levaing clean vocals “All this time you never thought it would be so easy when everything seemed so dark.” That gives way to huge cries of “huge dark” over big djenty guitars and the darting riff as more heavy screamed vocals take over.
That drops into a seriously heavy section led by Frode’s intense vocals over unrelentingly pounding drums and low-tuned guitars. And the band show their impressive diversity with that heavy section dropping into more of the clean vocals. Another booming section of djenty guitars and huge screams takes over, then drops into a pause for breath with spoken vocals, which drop back into a longer section of the clean vocals. They give way to a quick guitar solo then booming guitars bring it to a heavy ending. Check it out here:
Also on the EP is title track Fold, which opens up with deliciously good atmospheric instrumentals, then clean vocals answered by screams in the chorus of: “Now you know it’s burning in your soul, Nothing left.. do what you’re told, No matter how this story goes, We will not let you fold.”
That immediately dives into a huge verse of screamed vocals and lively guitars that feed into another chorus. A mellower section builds up with repeats of “We will not let you fold,” then a cool stabbing guitar riff over big doomy drums and cymbals feed into an extended chorus. Stabbing guitars and doomy cymbals take over alongside terrifying guttural screams, then booming low-tuned guitars bring this awesome track to a close. Check it out here:
Once Awake consistently deliver absolute banger after absolute banger, and we firmly recommend you go and give their first two albums a listen. While the latest batch of tracks give us plenty to be excited about for their upcoming third album Bridgeburner, which is out on 2 October.
To find out more, we had a chat with frontman Frode. Read on below…
GR: Who are Once Awake?
FH: “Once Awake is a metal band from the city of Bergen in Norway. Hans and Ørjan are close friends and have played together since 2002 in different bands, but started Once Awake as a side-project around 2011. Then Andrè joined on guitar shortly after and the search for a singer began. They had a couple of singers for short periods, but it was when I joined the band in 2016 that they started focusing more on only Once Awake.
“We recorded and produced our debut album Ever So Cold, which was released in 2017. We then toured through Russia and thought that when we could we survive that, we could survive anything. So we kept going and released our second album Inside The Storm in 2019 after signing a record deal with German label Reaper Entertainment Europe. Shortly after, we began writing music for our third album Bridgeburner, which will be out on 2 October.”
GR: You just released Becoming Alive. What should people be expecting from the song?
FH: “The song Becoming Alive is about exactly that, it’s about taking a step away from negativity that can possess you and realising the joy you can find in others and in life in general. Inspiration for the music comes from many places and bands, maybe especially Swedish melodic death metal and metalcore in general. It’s fast, groovy and brutal, just the way we like it.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
FH: “Since we produce, mix and master our own stuff we try to make it as hardhitting and uniqe as possible. We shape our drum sound and guitar sound as best we can to make it stand out a little, while at the same time keeping it familiar to the genre.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
FH: “There are several influences to our songwriting; it’s a passion first and foremost, all four of us being complete metalheads listening to hundreds of different metal bands through our youth. When we write music it is always for the purpose of playing it live some day, that’s always the goal.
“We live in a world that’s set on fire and that makes it easy to find topics to write about. Our life-situations are always changing over time, different perspectives on life are often topics we write about.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
FH: “As we mentioned, the Swedish melodic death metal scene is one of our influences, also the new wave of American heavy metal is a given, but also sub-genres such as djent, metalcore etc…
Bands we grew up with like Pantera, Metallica, Sepultura.”
GR: What have you got coming up in 2020?
FH: “We have already released four singles and videos this year, and there will be a fifth single and music video coming on 11 September. Our third full length album Bridgeburner will be released on 2 October.
“We were supposed to go on a long European tour with Canadian band Imonolith earlier this year, but due to the current covid-19 situation it got postponed. The tour is being rescheduled for 2021, more info tba.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about you/your music?
FH: “We will continue to release as much quality music and videos as possible for many years, it’s our passion and we will never give up.”