Some might call it metal, some might call it hard rock and some might not give a shit what to call Djerv. The Norwegian band’s sonic attack comes coated with strips of black metal, hard rock, regular rock, glam metal, and the proverbial kitchen sink. They aren’t the most ground-breaking band on the tag, but they do spit fire through razor wire. That counts for something.
At the centre of it all is vocalist Agnete Kjølsrud, an authentic rocket of a singer who hoists this strident trio on her shoulders. Her vocals are unspoiled and lethal all at once, with vibrant expression taking hold behind whirling guitars and gruelling drums. She is the fulcrum, singing with immensity that few singers manage.
Djerv also features guitarist Stian Kårstad, formerly of Trelldom, and drummer Erlend Gjerde, formerly of Stonegard. With Kjølsrud in the mix, herself having spent time tearing down shit with Animal Alpha, and you’ve got a band to be reckoned with.
Djerv’s self-titled full length debut is as good a place as any to get started with this band. They slash through nine tracks, following up their debut Headstone EP from 2010 with a rock and roll attack tuned with some darkened edges, some impressively tuneful touches and some punk conventions.
Djerv first burst through the walls of existence in 2010. Two weeks after their first demos surfaced, the band was locked in at the Oya Festival in Norway and commenced a national tour that culminated with a number of festival gigs. Dimmu Borgir made use of the vocal services of Kjølsrud for three tracks on their album Abrahadabra. Kjølsrud also appeared on Solefad’s Norrøn Livskunst, further boosting Djerv’s profile.
Djerv is their first big shot at making it on their own footing and the record is a pretty good one. It may not have the rumble or chunkiness metal purists foam over, but it is a well-produced, well-played rock record bolstered by the presence of a great singer and some head-noddingly entertaining songs.
Album opener “Madman” opens with a shout from Kjølsrud and some taunting. Kårstad plays basic accompaniment, while Gjerde’s drumming is on-point but rather plain.
The grooves are present everywhere on Djerv, with cuts like “Headstone” really making use of Kårstad’s riffage to draw out a track that ends up being really quite funky. Kjølsrud’s vocals again read like jeering and the shifts in her tones connect well with the effects to create a densely satisfying rock tune. And “Blind the Heat,” another power-packed piece, jives well with a punk rock edge that has Kjølsrud doing her best Johnny Rotten.
Djerv is by no means a perfect record, but it is one hell of a frenetic and impressive debut. Musically, the band’s not overly innovative. What they lack in originality they make up for in passion and pure fire, though, and that makes this one of few modern rock bands worth keeping both ears on.