When it comes to newer, less established bands, there isn’t typically a lot of hype surrounding them; unless the band is a super group of sorts or is featured prominently in many music publications prior to them being properly unveiled to the world. Enter into the fray the Swedish rock band Normandie and their debut album Inguz. While the band has been around for some time with previously released singles, they’ve undergone a rebranding of sorts which came from the loss of their harsh vocalist and led to a new, finely crafted and modernized rock sound that instantly drew comparisons to another recently rebranded band, Bring Me The Horizon. The question that strongly remained in many peoples’ minds was how the rest of the album would sound. Was “Believe” a one-off or is Inguz a potential game changer in this day and age of music?
The beginning of the album immediately sets the tone for the album – with “Fight” opening up with claps and gang-like vocals fading into an aggressive guitar riff before the vocals full center stage. Add in crunchy drum kicks and guitar licks with powerful vocals overlaying the aggressive instrumentation, and you are introduced wonderfully into the world of Inguz. As the album transitions into “Awakening”, new symphonic elements are added that steer the track towards a more pop rock sound, catchy sing-a-long chorus and all. One of the more noticeable elements spattered throughout the album as a whole are the delicately placed vocal effects—from chopping up the vocals to adding an echo effect. These aren’t overused by any means and fit the sound of the album brilliantly.
The aforementioned effects are immediately noticed at the beginning of “Collide” with distorted vocals opening up the track as it transitions into lead vocalist Philip Strand singing “Even when our worlds collide”. These soaring vocals and poppy melodies are where the 30 Seconds to Mars comparisons are drawn from and they just as easily appear in multiple songs throughout the album. “Believe” is just as great; featuring gang-like vocals, anthemic choruses and atmospheric instrumentation. “Loop Hole” starts off with an interesting opening that adds in drum kicks and crunchy licks as it ramps up. Add in well placed synths amongst emotive vocals and out of nowhere double kick drums, the song transitions from mellow to aggressive seamlessly.
Anguished vocals, emotive lyrics and vocal effects take center stage on “Deep Cold”, which takes the band in a seemingly darker direction compared to many of the other tracks. “Calling” reintroduces the symphonic string sounds found earlier in “Awakening” bringing the tempo back up to 11. “Starting New” is the odd track out on the album as the previous 7 tracks are of a much darker, more aggressive nature and this is more of a radio-friendly, irresistible pop rock track. It catches you a little off guard, but fits well into the overall theme of the album. “The Storm” brings back the gritty sound the majority of the album contains with an almost mysterious nature surrounding it. Ending the album is “Epilogue”, which is the most atmospheric and mellow track on the album. It favors string instruments throughout (violins and pianos most prominently) and has a very 30STM vibe with it transcending throughout and being a stadium-filling musical piece.
With a change of musical direction, Normandie have set themselves up for success and a huge future. Gone are the harsh vocals; taking their place are melodies, delicately placed vocal effects, pounding, aggressive instrumentation and catchy, sing-a-long type choruses. Inguz is an album that will continue to draw multiple comparisons to Bring Me The Horizon and 30 Seconds to Mars amongst others; and while deservedly so for the obvious influences, this is still their own sound and their creation. If they continue in this direction, years from now we could be comparing newer artists to Normandie and citing Inguz as an influential album for the direction they went.