One of the most pleasurable experiences you can have is when an album from a band which is new to you rears up and smacks you right between the eyes. You know the feeling, it's the reason a lot of us listen to music: the almost furtive rising feeling of glee that sets the pulse racing when you realise that in your rack-thumbing and extensive research, you have actually stumbled across something truly special. As an example of such an experience for me, I present Roaring at the Storm, the thunderously wondrous debut album from Oslo 'grunge-punk trio' Sauropod.
The album opens with the frolicking 'You And Me Should Leave Together Tonight'. Like all the best album openers, it equally catches you by surprise and sets the tone for the rest of the record. You are immediately aware of the razor-sharp melodic talents in the songwriting. Yes, there is aggression aplenty from the trio of Jonas Røyeng (guitar, vocals), Kamillia Waal Larsen (bass, vocals) and Jørgen Natland Apeness (drums), but it is most definitely targeted, and impressively realised. There's almost a rockabilly feel to the opener, as it twists and it turns, by way of a key change, through two minutes and 29 seconds of near perfection. The band's self-confessed Mudhoney influences come through on explosive second track 'Winter Song' which has another glorious chorus.
By the time 'Running Song' marks the mid-point of the record, following the short, sharp blasts of seemingly boundless energy that are 'Sunny Day' and 'Hausmania', it'd be all too easy to peg Sauropod as merely a heads-down-and-go punk trio. 'Running Song' pulled me up short however. It's a beautiful, almost sweet, acoustically based track, with yet another soaring chorus. Yet again the melodic and harmonic choices are fantastic.
Recent single 'Headphones' gives Kamillia Waal Larsen a chance to shine vocally. Being one of five songs here to clock in at under two minutes does nothing to stop it being a fully-formed and confident expression of who Sauropod are as a band. Why take four minutes when you can get the job done in two, or less? In fact, this confidence is one of the most impressive elements to this debut album. Here is a band who sound like they know exactly who they are, what it is that they are trying to do, and how they are going to do it. Not only that, but as they show in following 'Headphones' with the metal-tinged 'Fugue' and then out Green Day-ing Green Day on the mid-paced melodic rock of 'Edge Of A Cloud' they show that they really have many strings to their bow, and the world at their feet.
I quite often say this in reviews, but Sauropod really do seem like a band who need to be experienced live. If they can pull off the sharp, knowing twists and turns of this record on the live stage then they really could be a band poised to take over the world. As it is, make sure that you take the time to listen to this album. I believe it should be remembered as one of 2016's finest.
8Haydon Spenceley's Score