With the demise of Norwegian band Animal Alpha in 2009 there was a portion of disturbed maniacal dark vaudeville sound gone and though it was strongly continued by the likes of Stolen Babies, The Shanklin Freak Show and Creature Feature, the feeling of loss was strong. Thankfully 2010 saw the arrival of Djerv led by the wonderfully creative voice of Animal Alpha’s Agnete Kjølsrud and with firstly their debut demo EP the same year and the recent self titled album that void has been filled once more but this time with a harder more edgy sound.
Joining Kjølsrud to bring Djerv to life was fellow Norwegians drummer Erlend Gjerde whose heavy metal band Stonegard met its demise a little before Animal Alpha, and guitarist Stian Kårstad previously with black metallers Trelldom. The combination has spawned a sound that is more direct and in some ways more powerful but still retaining the inspired variations and melodic hooks and diversions that made Animal Alpha an essential listen. Djerv are musically strongly removed from Kjølsrud’s former group but with her distinctive and stunning voice they could never totally make some of the similarities and comparisons disappear, and nor should they, what has emerged is a rock band that is original and infused with diverse quality.
‘Madman’ starts the album off with urgent crazed vocals from Kjølsrud over a simple but gratifying punk metal attack of sound, the addictive hooks and unique harmonies coming from her voice. The song eagerly pounds away without overdoing the aggression and detracting from the tracks easily accessible flow.
All tracks on the album are of outstanding quality but the second track in ‘The Bowling Pin’ carries an air of superiority that bands anywhere would clamour for. With inviting scorching riffs that drive the song instantly into the ear as again Kjølsrud reveals her complete unique and perfect vocal ability the track though less direct than the opener just scoops up the listener in a wave of imperious sound.
The album across its nine compelling tracks excellently revels in the diverse influences from its line-up, from the growling riffs of the metal based ‘Headstone’ via the dark groove rock ‘n’ roll stomp of ‘Only I Exist’, to the gothic black metal flavoured ‘Abmuse’, every note of the release is inspired creativity that never goes for the obvious nor tries too hard to be different, the music is naturally, instinctively, and impressively individual.
Djerv is simply a pleasure that will appeal to a multi cross genre audience as well as Animal Alpha fans and where the more eccentric originality has been reined in somewhat with “Djerv”, the band shows just as original songwriting skills and charm from Kjølsrud’s old vehicle layered with powerful dark rock and metal earnest from the previous experience of the other band members. This is an album that will please, satisfy and inspire in equal measure if given the chance, something that is certainly deserved by album and band alike.