Photo by Kai Hansen Foto
Here at Soundscape we like to introduce you to bands you may not have discovered yet, so we caught up with Tom Ostad of Blodsmak for an interview and also reviewed the band’s debut album Av jord er me komne, so you’ve now got no excuse to check them out! Time to get involved with your new favourite band!
Can you introduce yourself and tell me a little about the band?
My name is Tom Ostad, and I’m the vocalist and songsmith for Blodsmak. Blodsmak plays the newly dubbed genre Hallingcore – which is hi-octane heavy rock with a hearty sprinkling of Norwegian folk music. We get mentioned in the same breath as Norwegian folk metal acts like Glittertind and Gåte, which we are immensely proud of. Still we do our own thing, and people seem to have difficulties categorizing us.
If I were to try, I would say we are playing a hybrid heavy rock rooted in both 80-s big stadion rock and the more introverted darkness of the 90-s grunge scene, with tendrils slithering into jazz harmonies, the melodic sensibility of country, with popish hooks and and soaring choruses, straddling our Norwegian musical heritage with fists pumping. No less.
Nowadays we just smile knowingly when people call us “different” – it’s become some sort of a mantra for the band. We’re different, but we’re not really trying to be. So far the references include Alice in Chains, Pantera, Willie Nelson and obscure Norwegian folk artists. Which suits us fine. Hopefully in a couple of years people will say other bands sound like Blodsmak. That’s when we know we’ve made it. 😀
How did you get started?
Blodsmak started out as a cover-band, doing songs by Clutch and other alt.rock acts. I started dabbling in writing original rock songs in english, but it didn’t really work. The lyrics got cheesy and stupid and while I was going for “tongue in cheek” it ended up more infantile and not very subtle. As luck would have it, on a practice I started belting out some words in “nynorsk”, which is a written language based on Norwegian dialect, and we kind of looked at each other and just…that’ll work! That just opened the floodgates to our melodic and lyrical world.
I’ve always had a soft spot for odd sounding scales, the haunting melodies of both eastern European and Arabic folk music really sing to me, but looking at our own folk music heritage, there was more than enough inspiration to make our hooks delightedly different.
You released your debut album Av jord er me komne earlier this year, can you describe your writing and recording process?
Once I tapped into that folkloric vein both lyrically and musically, the songs started to coagulate at an accelerated pace. I use the word coagulate, because that kinda describes how I make songs. I hum or whistle little ditties into my phone for prosperity. Later when I start working on a song, I always have a backlog of riffs and top-lines to pick and choose from, should I be in need of a b-part or a chorus. So these – let’s call them platelets, are building blocks that kinda clot into a song. The name Blodsmak means “Taste of blood”, so the simile is – albeit a tad disgusting, quite apt, if I may say so myself.
I make quite an elaborate preproduction of the songs with guitars, bass, and all vocals on my computer and serve them up for the band before practice. So the main skeleton of the song with lyrics and everything is in place. Then we start working out the finer details together to give the songs that community feeling.
We consider ourselves a live act, and we went into studio with the goal of making a demo for bookings. It didn’t take long before our producer Endre Kirkesola (Chrome Division, Immortal) went all in and gave us free reigns under his guidance during one long, hot summer. He had to see this album to fruition, and the result I daresay speaks for itself.
Were there any tracks that were more of a challenge to get down?
Well, to be quite honest, we hadn’t spent that much time practicing the songs before entering the studio, so our approach to timing and precision was somewhat lackadaisical but Endre, coming from a completely different school, broke us down and whipped us into shape. This was a musical boot camp, and we became all the better for it. So all tracks were challenging in their own way.
Which track are you most proud of?
I have to say Når eg Døyr. In this rapidly spinning world where songs over 3:15 minutes are mostly shunned by media, this dynamically evolving mastodon clocks in at over 7 minutes, without really being prog – and without ever getting boring. The reaction live when that riff kicks in, is always a sight to behold.
Any interesting tales from the studio?
After a couple of days in the studio, which is placed in a basement, the whole damn thing flooded, so we had to move all our stuff from a nice, lush studio with all amenities into a ratty little hole of about 12 square meter. It was sweaty and intense, and we spent probably the best Norwegian summer ever, stowed into that cargo-hold. But it gave the recordings an touch of authensity it would otherwise have lacked, and it is a testament to Endre’s abilities that he still was able to make the production sound so massive.
What has been your best experience in the business?
Well, we haven’t really been in the business that long, but I would definitely say the fans reaction. We are slowly and surely moving up from under the radar, and constantly hearing people at our shows going “OMG, Why aren’t you guys famous yet?” is a huge boost to a brittle artists ego.
And what’s the hardest thing about being in the business?
The competition is fierce! With so many young, super talented bands fighting for the same live venues and festival spots that we do (which seems like the only way to get heard, since CDs are not a thing anymore and streaming only works for the big guns), it is sometimes hard to get your voice heard. Luckily we have been able to play a lot of gigs for small and dedicated crowds this fall, which is steadily growing our fan base. But without radio-plays you’re more or less boned.
What inspires you?
I get inspired by almost everything. I really don’t listen much to music, because I don’t want to be “contaminated” before I go into a writing frenzy, but music still inspires me. Contrasts inspire me. Hunger inspires me. Laughter inspires me. Solitude and longing inspires me. Reading, inspires me. Strange patterns and odd juxtapositions of words and pictures inspire me. Coming off quite emo here, but I’m a upbeat guy, I swear.
Who are your role models and idols?
I’ll admire anyone for the right reasons, and some for the wrong.
When it comes to live shows, what can fans expect from them?
Live is where Blodsmak really shines. The songs are all about death in some convoluted way, yet the show is a celebration of life. Five guys giving it absolutely all to kick every shades of ass. It is a sonic and visual onslaught and we can not, will not quit until the audience is a roiling, boiling mass of sweaty excitement.
What is the best show you’ve ever played?
This summer we played a festival in Norway and a huge thunderstorm reared it’s ugly head in the background, giving us the best natural pyrotechnics ever – without the waterworks. People were shitting themselves with glee.
And perhaps the strangest or weirdest?
We did what boybands do when they go to die – played a mall gig in the afternoon. Blodsmak is best enjoyed in a dark cavern accompanied by quantities of beer, so that was weird, seeing people shopping for furniture and clothes, while we were belting out our stuff. People got into it, though and were singing along and making what could have been a death knell into a beautiful and emotional fulfilling event.
If you could collaborate with any artist or musician, who would it be?
Ennio Morricone. I really dig the way he totally reinvented music for western movies, and I love his soaring soundtracks. I bet he has a couple of stories to tell as well.
Similarly, if you could get another band to cover a Blodsmak track, which band and song would you choose?
Oh, how about London Symphony Orchestra giving Når Eg Døyr a go? I’d pay to hear that!
And if Blodsmak could put their name to a product, what would it be and why?
The Blodsmak Beer has a nice ring to it. Not very clever, but you just can’t go wrong with beer.
Av jord er me komne review
After hearing that Blodsmak is a band that has been compared to Glittertind, which is a band that is one of my personal favourites, I was naturally intrigued to see what they sounded like – and to say that they didn’t disappoint is somewhat of an understatement because their debut album, Av jord er me komne, is a mini masterpiece.
Sveltihel, the opener, is a striking beginning to the album and the vocals on this one in particular are very strong. They’re emotive and easy to sing along to, no matter what language you speak, which is clearly a sign of masterful songwriting. It gets things moving nicely and another early highlight is the mighty Rosa mi Rosa. With some fantastically catchy folksy instrumentation, it gives the song that extra special sparkle and makes it one to remember – indeed, the initial melody that repeats several times over the course of the track is nigh-on impossible to get out of your head!
Of course, the latter half of the album is also littered with awesome tracks too and Ulvedans is a track that is perhaps worthy of more than just a passing glance. Although it starts off fairly weakly, not really feeling like it’s anything special, it’s worth giving the track a bit of time because as soon as the chorus kicks in you’ll be wanting to yell along to it at the top of your voice! Catchy doesn’t come close to describing this.
Av jord er me komne is an established release that sounds like Blodsmak have been putting out albums for years, rather than this actually being their debut album – this is a band that has nailed it first time round and if this is anything to go by, then their next album is going to be off the scale!
Av jord er me komne is available for purchase from here.