Another Thursday, I continue burning bridges, one by one, day by day. On a windy, foggy, and snowy day with no return and only the way ahead, Oberst's fascinating new song 'Mules on a Mountain' plays in my ears at maximum volume. This isn't the first time I'm hearing about the promising Norwegian band from Oslo, and I'm pretty sure it won't be the last. Their latest single was released on November 30, 2023.
Oberst - Mules on a Mountain (Official audio)
Music doesn't often improve your mood throughout the day after being captive in a certain frequency for a long time. I take the part of my life that I have spent in the mental institution as an example: there's no change, no improvement without sacrifice. Surprisingly, today I am clearly having a better day, thanks to these Norwegian gentlemen and their electrifying song 'Mules on a Mountain.' I have many reasons that I genuinely enjoyed listening to this song today on repeat at different times and through various mediums, which I'll try to explain below.
First of all, the song immediately caught my full attention with its concept that incorporates sludge and progressive influences with a sound reminiscent of heavy and grungy rock while offering freshness with its musical language. While Oberst's instrumental music shows significant promise and freshness, the band is led by a vocalist with a hardcore/screamo singing style, distinguishing their name entirely from the rest of the world. Additionally, they have a tasty balance between rock and metal, showcasing an admirable concept that qualifies them undoubtedly among the hottest prospects from Norway.
Secondly, my favorite aspect of the entire song was the musical language in the instrumentation. As someone who doesn't usually enjoy and consume music with hardcore/screamo vocals, Oberst is one of the very few that earned themselves a spot in my personal playlist. While they reminded me of Mastodon, one of my all-time favorite bands, in their guitar sound, guitar work, instrumentals, prog side, and sludge side, they have their entirely different musical language that sets them apart. Although 'Mules on a Mountain' is a progressive song from start to finish in its structure, as well as instrumentation and flow, it leaves a strong mark in your memory that resonated with me throughout the day.
Additionally, the song has timeless qualities in its sound work and production. The producer has envisioned a flawlessly well-balanced (and somewhat loud) sound, taking advantage of analog sounds along with all the raw energy and roughness. The vocals accompany the music instead of leading it for the most part, and I very much enjoyed the purposely made decision on where to position the vocalist. As I mentioned earlier, the sound truly shines and resonates with the listener, regardless of the volume level.
Oberst, band photo Credit: Unknown
On the other side of the coin, there is only one aspect that emotionally struck me during my listenings: the secondary vocals. Although the song is mainly structured with the unmistakable character of the main vocalist; Tarjei Kristoffersen, we also get to hear a brief part where the second vocalist Maciek Ofstad sings in a softer tone and melody. In fact, that moment was like the validation I was looking for. So, in short, I think Oberst has envisioned music that works flawlessly yet still has much room for improvement. In this case, I'd strongly argue that incorporating another style of vocals in their music would make a significant difference. At the same time, the idea of giving more space for the vocalist to cool down in live performances would be a rational and strategic move as well. That's just my personal opinion because I really enjoyed what they did by trying both styles in 'Mules on a Mountain.'
Oberst, band photo Credit: Unknown
In conclusion, I am delighted by the discovery of 'Mules on a Mountain.' A heavy grunge rock sound meets prog, sludge, and hardcore, performed by a gifted collective with fresh musical language and significant potential. Strongly recommended for Mastodon fans. Thank you for reading.
Oberst - Mules on a Mountain single front cover artwork
released November 30, 2023
Tarjei Kristoffersen - Vocals Johan Fredrik Strid Bolli - Drums Dennis Estensen - Guitar Joakim Karlsen – Bass
Featuring Maciek Ofstad - Vocals
Producer, Studio Producer: Johan Fredrik Strid BolliProducer, Studio Producer: Joakim KarlsenProducer, Studio Producer: Dennis EstensenProducer, Studio Producer: Tarjei KristoffersenMixer, Mastering Engineer, Additional Studio Producer: Ruben WillemA And R Administrator: Celine HøieA And R Administrator: Erlend GjerdeMusic Publisher: Indie Music Publishing
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