In a world of cookie cutter metal bands, it’s always refreshing to hear one that stands out amongst the crowd. Enter Norwegian melodic thrash metal troupe, Shraphead. I was initially slightly amused by the band’s name. However, after listening to the music on their debut release, a body slamming dump truck of an album called Blind and Seduced, I found myself taking this group seriously fairly quickly.
Shraphead was formed in 2004 in Eidskog, Norway by two local musicians, drummer Mo Dyani, and bassist William Fossheim. This is a band that cut their teeth on the live scene, playing various gigs across Norway, all the while building an underground fan base. The lineup was completed with guitarist and vocalist Jo Johnsrud, and after a couple of lineup changes, lead guitarist Nils-Christer Stenmyren. Blind and Seduced was recorded with producers Christian Liljan and Fredrick Ryberg at the helm.
The album opens with an ominous “Welcome”, featuring electronic percussion giving way to melodic guitar work, a seemingly tame prologue that precedes the pummeling to follow. This segues into “Stolen Trust”, where we get our first taste of Johnsrud’s clean, but at the same time gritty vocals. Interspersed with the downtuned crunch that drives the song is a clean lead guitar that weaves in and out of the staccato rhythm section.
Next up is, “Merry Go Round”, one of the strongest tracks on the album. This song will provoke mental images of anything but something found in a children’s amusement park. The track is highlighted by some seriously addictive riffing, topped off by a no-holds-barred solo. Combine that with a catchy, shout-along chorus, and the result is almost guaranteed to be a fan favorite.
The title cut is a driving relentless beast. Galloping guitars and manic yet precise drum work, all highlighted by Johnsrud’s vocals, and another excellent guitar solo.
If one is looking for the softer, gentler side of Shraphead, it can be found throughout the beautifully done track, “Just Another Fool Who Understands” and toward the end of the album on the instrumental, “Evilberry Jam”. This latter piece demonstrates the musical talent this quartet possesses on each of their instruments, in particular letting Stenmyren’s lead guitar comes to the forefront and shines.
Shraphead’s debut album is built soundly on the foundation of the band’s rhythm section. But at the heart of their sound is the almighty riff, around which they create some blistering yet highly melodic pieces, all brought to life with Johnsrud’s soaring vocal lines.
Blind and Seduced is not for the fan looking for something no one has ever heard before, but reinventing the wheel is not something this album sets out to do. Rather, what it does is it take melodic thrash metal in the vein of Scar Symmetry, and pair it with clean gritty vocals reminiscent of Five Finger Death Punch’s Ivan Moody, presents it in a solid, tight, riff-packed punch that leave’s the listener wanting more. If this album represents a small taste of what Shraphead has to offer, then fans can expect to hear much more of these riff-slayers very soon.
Blind and Seduced is an exceedingly impressive debut.
Notables: Merry Go Round, Blind and Seduced, Stolen Trust, Evilberry Jam