Review: Håndgemeng ‘Ultraritual’

From the triumphant opening guitar riff on the first track of Håndgemeng’s Ultraritural, it is clear that this is not your average doom record. In fact, the album title Ultraritual provides a good indication of Håndgemeng‘s ethos. This is a band that delivers both atmosphere and driving riffs with rock solid confidence, offering moments that would fit into an Easy Rider reboot, as well as trippy sections that would appeal to any psychedelic fan.

Håndgemeng 'Ultraritual'

Tonally it draws on classic stoner doom with crunching overdrive and cosmic colour. Guitarist Charlie Ytterli and bass player Kim Grannes have perfected their sounds that are distinctly independent but work together beautifully. It’s great to hear Grannes in the mix, especially on the grit and grind of Tempel Of Toke. Meanwhile, Ytterli‘s solo on Visions In Fire is about as close to perfection as you can get with shades of David Gilmore even coming in on latter tracks.

The band exudes confidence in their groove, yet repeated listens reveal a range of explored ideas while still managing to confidently retain their unique sound and identity. As with a lot of their back catalogue (try The Greenman), Håndgemeng maintain the ‘more is more’ approach to riff writing which has stayed firmly in place on this record, but it is impressive to hear it applied to such a variety of musical settings. Again, the ‘ultra’ in Ultraritual comes up again, which probably comes down to the band’s hardcore influences.

The band exudes confidence in their groove…

It is important to look at these hardcore influence that the band tout as well. Thematically, this is a classic stoner doom record. The track titles have the grandiosity of traditional heavy metal, like Occulation Of Mars and Tales From The Thundra, with the clear otherworldly influences of Sleep. But with Håndgemeng, this has been supercharged by the hardcore ethic.

Heavy metal and hardcore have successfully crossed over before, but hardcore and doom? It may seem like a contradiction, as hardcore is often associated with gritty, real-life themes while stoner doom is known for its escapism. Musically though, it is well expressed through Martin Wennberg‘s distinct vocals and Ola Holseth’s pummelling, feel heavy drumming, along with the bands powerful energy. If this is what crossover doom can sound like and what Håndgemeng can do with it, then count me in.

Label: Ripple Music
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: James Bullock