Norway is well-known for being oil rich, but the more exciting news is that it’s also loaded with amazing hardcore punk bands. The latest to come to our attention is the excellent Rise Above.
The five-piece of Thomas Lindstrøm (vocals), Roy Nystøl (guitar), Håkon Nygaard (guitar), Cato Nystøl (drums) and Bendik Hildebrand (bass) from Kristiansand, in the very south of Norway, have mastered the art of catchy, angsty hardcore punk which, in their words, combines “gang vocals, catchy riffs, energy and spirit.” As a result, they’re already enjoying a growing reputation in their homeland, having been nominated for GAFFA’s Norwegian Newcomer of the Year and earning Artist of the Week on Norway’s biggest music radio channel, NRK P3, for last year’s debut EP Sounds of Liberation.
Now they’re ready to bring their awesome hardcore punk sound wider afield, starting with today’s release of new single Gold – which is an utterly apt song title, and was produced by Esteban Munoz from their fellow Norwegian punk band Tirades, who we covered back in April.
Gold kicks off with drums and cymbals then a cry of “I know it’s hard to drive a government to change, I realise we’re unimportant, but it’s a conflict of deceit, Near reminiscent of a war” as the drums intensify alongside high-pitched guitar noises that build to a fast-paced smash of punkiness through the hugely catchy chorus. It then drops down to more angsty vocals through the second verse, this time with lingering palm-muted guitars and rounding off with the awesome ridiculously fast, wonderfully delivered vocals: “Sympathetic, pseudo-fabricated priding in the gold they’ve weighted in faking all the educated evidence leaving us to drown.”
Another rapid chorus follows, ending on a big scream then a “bleugh” noise – however you describe that sound – then a big smash of punk chords before the track concludes with repeated cries of “Drilling through.” Gold is an absolute banger, so give it a listen below.
We asked Thomas for his insight into the track, and he said: “Norway is one of the great oil nations. It’s also one of the richest countries in the world; we have a lot of money to govern. Yet, as demand for oil declines worldwide, we still cling to it – and keep testing new sites for potential extraction. Everyone is ignorant about climate change, and the damage it is causing. And, specifically for Norway, investing more money in oil will render future generations way less fortunate than we are today.
“Ironically, we have a big problem with youth voter turnout. It doesn’t help, either, that old, conservative people keep voting for continued extraction, in faith that it will save us. That’s the desperation that inspired GOLD. It’s a tirade addressed to our government.”
As you can probably deduce from, the Rise Above message is very politically charged. Thomas explained of their influences: “Politics, mostly. That, and injustice. The cover art for our first EP, Sounds of Liberation, is inspired by one of the most iconic pictures taken from the refugee crisis, with Alan Kurdi, a little boy, laying face down on a beach in Turkey, having washed ashore. Alan didn’t deserve to be laying there. So, in our rendition, we put Donald Trump in his place. Little did we know he was to become president a few months later. My god.”
As mentioned in the intro, Norwegian punk is in a good place right now if the music of Rise Above and the previously featured Tirades is anything to go by. And Thomas confirms these are exciting times for the country’s scene: “Hardcore punk seems to be having somewhat of an uprising here in Norway. Not sure why! I’d still consider it a niche genre, but with acts like Blood Command, Ondt Blod, and SIBIIR gathering bigger and bigger crowds, I’m not sure how long that will stay the case. In pop, Norwegian music has been absent for a long time. Now, acts like KYGO, Aurora, and Lemaitre are touring everywhere. Don’t think we’ve seen something like this since A-Ha topped the charts. Exciting times over here.”
I love the raw, awesomely catchy yet heavy sound of Rise Above, and the good news is that there’s plenty more to come. They’ll be releasing another single in November, then heading out on the road. Thomas tells us: “We really want to come visit the UK. It’ll be a first for us! We’re currently DIY, so if anyone knows any cool venues we should get in touch with, hit us up, and we’ll do all that is in our power to make it there!”