Korrupt
Secret Sorrows

Given recent efforts I’ve reviewed from the likes of In Flames and Hellripper, the topic of bands evolving and following their own artistic journeys has certainly been at the forefront of my mind – and I will gladly defend, ’til the day I die, any band’s right to continue pushing forward and exploring new avenues with their sound. In the two examples mentioned above, the results of such endeavors (to my ears anyway) turned out brilliantly. But as we all know, there is a flip side to that coin, and while I will personally never judge a band for switching gears and trying new things, it doesn’t mean I have to love the result.

One big example for me comes from Norway’s Kvelertak, a band whose trendsetting earlier work combined the best parts of Punk Rock, Hardcore, Black and Heavy Metal into an endlessly catchy, relentless concoction that, over the years, has smoothed its edges and refined itself down to a form that, while not awful by any stretch, just doesn’t pack quite the punch or quite scratch the itch it once did. Luckily, there’s been no shortage of bands who have mimicked Kvelertak over the years to varying levels of success, but to this point I can’t really say any have truly captured the magic created by the original masters.

At least, not until I heard this other Norwegian act Korrupt for the first time. Oh joy of friggin’ joys.

Indeed, if imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery, then Korrupt are certainly making a big effort to show their appreciation for their trailblazing country mates, though the influences don’t necessarily stop there. Kvelertak may be the overall vibe in the room, but some big time nods also go out to the legendary Turbonegro, along with a serious hand shake with Comeback Kid to boot. The result, as you can imagine, is an infectiously energetic, highly melodic effort that packs some seriously friggin’ superb guitar work that really leads the band’s assault.

First track “King of Chemicals” has everything and more you could ask from a project like this – driving, enthusiastic riffing, a heaping dose of epic melodies, and vocals that range from scathing, to insanely catchy (the band’s focus on earworm choruses certainly being one of their biggest strengths). It’s a great table setter that gets the full breadth of Korrupt‘s influences out for all to see, leading nicely into “Death to Serenity” which, right off the bat, should show the world the kind of clever, infectious guitar work the band is capable of. The main riff is an absolute doozy, bolstered by a crunching rhythm backbone that makes it stand out even more beautifully. You start to get the first few hints of any “Blackened” elements ala-Kvelertak through some neat tremolo-picked pre-choruses which just add to the aggression (in truth, these guys don’t lean on the Black Metal influence nearly as their counterparts), and the song is rounded out nicely with a sweet little breakdown that brings the band’s Hardcore hearts to the forefront. Again, another song that encompasses all parts of the band’s sound in a tight little package. Hell yeah.

I’m also all-in when the band decides to deploy their tongue-in-cheek, Punk Rock Turbonegro worship. The title alone should let you know which kind of direction “Hail Seitan” is taking, and the song does not disappoint – delivering a good-time-having party of a track whose only failing is the lack of cowbell during the chorus (it would have been a perfect fit). The song surprisingly even busts out one of the band’s more Black-forward stretches of tremolo picking and blast beats that, somehow, they manage to sneak in without having it sound out of place.

“God is Dead” may seem like the appropriate time to bust our some more of their Blackened edge, but nah – instead the band presents one of the album’s catchier tracks that stays hard on the Rock & Roll vibes, I dare say even inspiring you to get up out of your chair and do a little dance. Super fun!

The second half of the album definitely takes a noticeable shift in style – taking a ride in the Comeback Kid-esque Melodic Hardcore lane, in particular on “Birth of Tragedy” hitting with some super punchy D-Beats and gang vocals that come straight out of the CBK playbook – though they do throw in a bit of out-of-left-field fun via a clapping bridge that lends itself to the notion the track was made specifically for live audiences, and I’m sure it would be an absolute blast to experience.

“Hellbound” and “Break All the Rules” keep the tonal shift on track, with the latter leaning a bit more on some great guitar leads that pull some of the earlier feel of the album back into play. These melodies are drenched in glue, because as soon as they hit, boy do they stick – and luckily I have no qualms about any of these getting stuck in my head for a while because they’re an absolute joy.

The band does have a couple more tricks up their sleeve as well. “Serpents II” starts off with a super trashy, straight up metal kick that amps the already high energy level another notch. The band doesn’t lose all sense of who they are – as they certainly lean back on another infectious chorus which is, at the end of the day, their bread and butter.

Album closer “Dirty White” is a much moodier Post-Hardcore track that completes the album on a decidedly more dour note than you got through the rest of the album, to a point that maybe I’d have chosen to put it somewhere midway through the record for a change of pace, but that’s really just nit-picking on what is, overall, an excellent album. It’s easy to listen to an album once and come away impressed, it’s another thing entirely for an album to compel you to come back again and again – which¬†Secret Sorrows seems to be doing for me.

If you need a change of pace from your otherwise more brutal offerings, the Norwegians seem to have a pretty reliable brand of endlessly catchy, punchy, high energy acts like this to offer, and Korrupt is absolutely worth the listen. It’s not all just Black Metal and Vikings up there.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
March 16th, 2023

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