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Octohawk – Animist

by Mark Machlay at 20 April 2021, 2:33 AM

Freshly minted OCTOHAWK out of Norway is looking to make a splash with a strong stoner metal band vibe with smatterings of other genres throughout on their debut full-length “Animist” releasing on June 4th, 2021. Fortunately, most of the members are not as fresh faced as they may seem as the core of the band functioned under the title MAMMUTH originally. They played exclusively stoner metal, releasing two albums – “Gone with the Wolves” in 2012 and “Outlander” in 2017 – which seemed to have flown under everyone’s radar. Apparently deciding on an image change as a well as a sound change, somewhere in 2020 four of the five members would continue on, including guitarist Christian Schei, vocalist and guitarist Stian Svorkmo and synth player and vocalist Steffen Overaa under the brand OCTOHAWK. The only real difference between the two was that bassist Stig Johansen was replaced with Espen Geitsund of thrash/groove metal group NINTH CIRCLE.

Revitalized under their new moniker, the quintet, OCTOHAWK set out to rebrand their sound and moved beyond simply stoner metal into areas of sludge, doom and most especially prog metal. Seemingly taking advantage of all the free-time that has now been afforded bands since live shows are still tenuous, their debut album “Animist” is a crushing, thunderous work, rich in content and long in length to satisfy any metalhead for much more than its hour plus run time. The album’s title seems to go hand-in-hand with the band’s new name, citing that “an animist perceives all things – animals, plants, rock, rivers, oceans, and mountains – as animated. If one were to compare the sound the band seem to be most similar to, think the heaviness of MASTODON with, surprisingly, an even stronger prog leaning into more OPETH territory but tending more toward a brutality of the former than a sweetness of the latter.

OCTOHAWK presents an interesting package being possibly a little too heavy even for prog-nerds to find interesting but certainly retain the energy and heaviness of their previous sludge and stoner metal sound. Their lead single “Iconoclast” does exactly its job of introducing you to the band. It begins with a deceptively similar opening to MEGADETH’s “Back in the Day” but switches degrees to a heavier groove metal and really aggressive in-your-face vocals expertly delivered by Svorkmo which hearkens back to their MAMMUTH days. It starts to get strange with a clean guitar section that is still crawling, relentlessly moving part that leads into an epic and grand interlude with beautiful, clean vocal overdubs from Overaa.

This leads nicely into my favorite track “Origin”. It begins with some choir overdubs before moving into classic KORN–like groovy metal, it chugs like a freight train before becoming slow and sludgy for what could be interpreted as a chorus. That is what I find intriguing about this band, sections aren’t entirely apparent what role they serve, the band keep you guessing. They even followed up their first single with what could be seen as tonal shift but is really just a continuation of their evolution with second single “Weather the Storm”. The mystical pan flute like opening before quickly diving into down-tuned sludge with heavy, explosive bass guitar and cymbal punctuation gives a clue to their identity but they even thrown in ethereal doubled vocals that will definitely cause the listener to do a double take, commanding a keener listeners ear. It’s a pretty good introduction, the only downside was you certainly start to feel the meaty length of the album and it could have done with a bit of cutting here and there, but overall, a pretty good debut.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Weather the Storm
2. Eyes Glowing Red
3. Iconclast
4. Origin
5. Ferocious
6. By the Root
7. Redemption
8. Reanimate
9. Skyward
10. Ancestor
David Jondahl Hjellum – Drums
Christian Schei – Guitar
Stian Svorkmo – Vocals and Guitar
Steffen Overaa – Synth and Vocals
Espen Geitsund – Bass
Record Label: Crime Records


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Edited 30 November 2022

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