- Year 2016
- Genre Crust PunkHardcorePunk
- Country Denmark
- Label Southern Lord
- Rating Solid
Danish hardcore/punk band Halshug hit hard as hell on their debut album ‘Blodets Bånd’ in 2015, a seventeen minute rager that took the best parts of old-school hardcore and slightly more modern crust and beat listeners to a pulp with fast paced riffs and hellish vocals. They followed up the debut rather quickly, as sophomore effort ‘Sort Sind’ came out at the end of September via Southern Lord. At a slightly longer twenty three minutes, Halshug has slowed down the tempos a bit compared to their debut but still offer up that destructive, unrelenting sound that makes this genre so damn appealing. It may not deviate terribly far from what the group established on their debut, but when the songs are this raw and chaotic they don’t really need to.
‘Sort Sind’ is noisy when it needs to be but gives enough space between the instrumentals to let the guitars scorch your skin with their heat and allow the drums to pummel you to a bloody pulp
If you missed out on ‘Blodets Bånd’, what you need to know about Halshug is that they deliver a non-stop attack of hardcore/punk that pulls from slower, brooding passages and raging D-beat attacks. Compared to its predecessor, ‘Sort Sind’ has a few more tracks where the instrumentals slow things down and let the abrasive guitar leads expand outwards while the drums pound away with an almost primal feel. But the core of Halshug’s sound is still fast paced riffing that flies by without giving you much time to breathe; utilizing that familiar D-beat patterns as well as some other hardcore/punk elements. They’ve maintained a considerable amount of rawness and noise to the recording to make sure that you really feel the abrasiveness and weight of these songs, but once again the noise isn’t so dense that it obscures the details. ‘Sort Sind’ is noisy when it needs to be but gives enough space between the instrumentals to let the guitars scorch your skin with their heat and allow the drums to pummel you to a bloody pulp. Admittedly as with its predecessor some of the ideas blur together given their more straightforward nature, but given the short length of the release this is an album best spun as a whole rather than in bits and pieces.
The vocals are what drew me to Halshug back in 2015, and that’s definitely the case again with ‘Sort Sind’. Jakob Johnsen has a growl that is so deep and menacing that it sounds like a demon that has broken free of the gates of hell. It’s comparable to Napalm Raid, another band that’s one of my favorites when it comes to this particular crust driven variant of hardcore punk, and Johnsen doesn’t relent for a single second of ‘Sort Sind’. At times the vocals and instrumentals work in tandem to completely overwhelm your senses and leave you gasping for air, and that’s a sign of a good performance in my book. This continues to be an element that really makes Halshug distinguishable from some of the other bands of this type, and it’s great to see their recordings regularly put Johnsen near the front of the mix to make the most of it.
‘Sort Sind’ ultimately feels like a refinement rather than a progression from ‘Blodets Bånd’, with the non-stop raging D-beat of the latter giving way to a few more slow and mid-tempo sections. But for a band that was already firing on all cylinders from the start this isn’t a bad thing, and they’ve delivered another album that will have you wanting to punch holes through things while you crank it full blast. I’ll be interested to see if they switch things up further or not once it’s time for full length number three, but for now I’ll take two heavy hitting releases back to back.