Following the release of their awaited debut LP Pheromones, Norwegian frenzy- rockers Animal Alpha are behaving in accordance with their name. In fact they seem a lot like a moon rocket during its ignition sequence; awesome, and still not fully grasped by the onlookers. Last week saw the outfit playing sold-out shows at the by:Larm festival in Tromsø and capping off the successful weekend by winning the 2006 by:Larm scholarship.
Last week saw the outfit playing two sold out shows at Norwegian music industry event/showcase festival by:Larm in Tromsø. Animal Alpha capped of a successful weekend by winning this year's by:Larm scholarship, an award that is given to what is considered the domestic music industry's most promising act. The scholarship amounts to a value NOK 550 000 ($ 81 525/ € 68 107) and includes ad space and exposure in Norwegian daily Dagbladet and at the Kanal24 radio channel as well as NOK 100 000 in hard cash.
Animal Alpha debuted last year with their critically acclaimed 'Pheromones' (Racing Junior).
Critics frequently find that they have misjudged the true scope of the expression they are to review. -That they have depleted their vocabulary, kept no words in reserve, and thus stand in danger of having also wasted their credibility.
Therefore it is a common phenomenon to read reviews that pray for the nullification of all previous use of the superlatives, for it is this act that those words were reserved for, and the critic will vouch for it with his dear life.
Animal Alpha has been a greater cause of such categorical recasting than any other act that springs to mind. For they have made many a blasé critic discard their operative demarcations and start over anew, gauging by a new standard.
To talk of a new standard is grand of course, but in this case the verdict seems almost unanimous; from live performances to recorded material the response is the same: No listener is prepared for the onslaught, and bands of the same performing vein, hitherto of cutting edge notoriety, all of a sudden seem at complete standstill, like some African sling at the arrival of the Maxim Gun.
So as a force no one fully fathoms, and with a lead singer that defies belief, this band has come to reach almost prophetic status, as the saviours, the reinventors, of Norwegian, nay, even international, 21st century hard rock.
For it is hard rock that is AA’s business, make no mistake about it. But apart from the musical parameters that describe the genre in general, AA has very little in common with your stereotypical proponents of such music.
In the words of one critic they are the sound of the West, and this is an interesting observation, for the hissing metal -and its American insignia- is intensified and deepened in a subtle way with a plethora of profoundly European elements. There is “fin de siecle”, 20s cabaret, futuristic firestorms, drugged lullaby, war and enlightenment, going on in this truly undulating, all-compelling expression. -An awesome frenzy, not least executed by the matchless singer Agnete Kjølsrud, who navigates this Flying Dutchman like some possessed, five-voiced, female Ahab.
And the music is not the first indication of the bedazzlement of the band.
Entering the stage as a motley rococo ensemble -like some expo at Madam Tussauds, brought to life by Frankesteinian electrocution- they present the most unlikely presence on a pop music stage imaginable. Still, in the seconds before the animal ignites, spectators might think they’ve figured the band out, expecting some weird opera buffo. But then a striking metamorphosis takes place, a gestalt shift, no less, for the music they churn out is not a cause to adjust preconceptions. One realises, rather, that this is something altogether different from what you expected.
Everyone who has ever penned their first experience of this band says roughly the same: even if warned of a coming surprise they could not have imagined its magnitude. And luckily it is a surprise of the kind everyone craves, an overwhelming torrent, which soon becomes, so it seems, impossible not to embrace and pass on. Discovering Animal Alpha is the kind of experience that caters to the human desire to be a messenger, to be the one who knows and passes on.
Go see this band: it will satisfy your craving for “a life less ordinary”.