I have to admit that when I was first given Dunderbeist’s album to review I had never heard the name before, at all. After some research it turns out that this is a bit more forgivable (I hope), as “Black Arts And Crooked Tales” is the Norweigan’s fifth release, but the first one to be released internationally. There appeared to be very little however to tell me what these guys sound like, so I was still going in to this review with no ideas of what to expect; arguably for the best because this is quite an odd listen.
The Norwegian septet are currently based on Indie Recordings, a Norwegian label famous for the nurturing of several of the countries metal talents, with the recent and notable example of Kvelertak. An interesting nugget of information, as Dunderbeist have some parallels with Kvelertak. Firstly Dunderbeist have created their own unique, yet still familiar, sound much like Kvelertak did before. It took me a good couple of listens to really grasp and notice things, but I would say the best way to describe them is sounding like Mastodon, with the odd folk ting,e and with vocals that are often akin to “Angel Dust” era Mike Patton and elsewhere a tad like Neil Fallon from Clutch in style. This sounds utterly barmy but works very well. The presence of two vocalists adds a distinctive factor as well, although it isn’t clear which vocalist does what and where.
What Dunderbeist also have going for them is how catchy and memorable these songs are, despite the eclectic styles the description suggests. “Black Arts And Crooked Tales” sports plenty of massive riffs and big hooks, and actually manages to have a slight pop element due to how surprisingly accessible the album is. Album opener “La Guerre du Feu (Lord Of The Flames)” starts off with a folk like acoustic, which sounds very similar to Falloch, before building into a very meaty riff. Other than this there is no messing about, just jumping straight in. “Shields Aligned” is another stand out number as it has a folk/battle element to it with a quite grandiose sound to it, but without sounding distant and out of place with the rest of the album.
Thankfully as well, there is definitely no weaker track here; each one is just as strong as the other making “Black Arts”… a very consistent album. With a strong arsenal of very catchy songs and a pretty unique sound of their own, Dunderbeist could possibly replicate the wider success of their peers Kvelertak.