From the heart of Oslo emerges a sound that seamlessly melds the raw energy of punk with the evocative melancholy of dirty 80s post-punk, 90s post hardcore and noise rock. DAMOKLES, having already made waves with their debut “Nights Come Alive,” returns with their sophomore album, “Swing, Pendulum, Swing.” This release, under the banner of Vinter Records, promises an enthralling musical journey marked by atmospheric introspection and cathartic outbursts.
“Swing, Pendulum, Swing” isn’t merely a continuation of DAMOKLES’ sonic journey but rather a profound evolution. The title track, which also serves as the album’s lead single, offers a tantalizing glimpse into the band’s refined sound. It’s a meditative exploration of the delicate balance of life, oscillating between creation and destruction, much like the inexorable swing of a pendulum.
At its core, the album delves deep into the human psyche, grappling with themes of existentialism, fate, and the inherent fragility of our existence. This thematic depth is beautifully complemented by a soundscape that draws inspiration from bands like The Cure, blending gloomy undertones with bursts of discordant energy.
The accompanying visuals for the title track, crafted by Kenneth Olaf Hjellum, further elevate the narrative, painting a vivid picture of DAMOKLES’ artistic vision. From critiques of societal collapse in “Something’s Amiss at the Hive” to introspective musings in “Our Words as a Warning,” the album traverses a spectrum of emotions, challenging listeners to confront their own vulnerabilities and fears.
The band’s members – Kristian Liljan, Ronny Flissundet, Gøran Karlsvik, Fredrik Ryberg, and John Birkeland Hansen – have crafted an experience that feels both intimate and grandiose. Their influences, ranging from Quicksand’s mathy cadence to The Afghan Whigs’ atmospheric hardcore, are intricately woven throughout the album, resulting in a rich tapestry of sound.
The media reception has been overwhelmingly positive, with critics drawing parallels to the brooding aesthetics of ’90s post-hardcore and highlighting the band’s unique approach to storytelling. DAMOKLES has been lauded for their ability to capture the zeitgeist of the current era, channeling the collective angst and uncertainty into a cohesive musical narrative.
In “Swing, Pendulum, Swing,” DAMOKLES invites us on a sonic odyssey, one marked by introspection, rage, and ultimately, catharsis. Today, the band sat down with us to give you their special track by track commentary for the full album, available below!
OUR EYES UPON YOU IN DREAMS
– The album intro; a lullaby not intended for sleep, but for dreadful distress. This world can be an ugly place that has a tendency to devour naivety and innocence. A Messianic monologue from a silver tongue, intended for you to stay on your toes. We wanted it to be piano driven and fully electronic to create some of the tension that we love from 80s faves such as The Cure & Depeche Mode, but also newer bands that we listened to while recording; especially Soft Kill & Drab Majesty. A nod to the modern 80s.
MARKS VS. WOUNDS
– This track carries straight over from the intro, and builds on the tension. Thematically, it also carries over. In a search for common empathy: leave as little damage to ourselves and the surrounding world as possible. A painful lament dedicated to minimum wreckage. We’re all huge fans of Quicksand and everything Walter Schreifels-related, and we wanted some of that mathy smart chugness to come through. Our anger and frustration delivered in a non-macho way. Walter is the perfect inspiration for that.
LET’S BUILD A FORTRESS
– About mankind’s primal tendency to seek shelter yet yearn for danger and thrills, with zero to no idea of consequences. It’s still in our current psyche. To sugarcoat that we’re all just dumb lost cavemen we did sneak in some Queens Of The Stone Age inspo. There is a lot of those vibes scattered all around this record. That, and The Afghan Whigs, which we adore.
SWING, PENDULUM, SWING
– The title track, about the fragility of our existence. We lost some good ones during this record, and it affected the overall theme; very existentialist. Our days are numbered, and some of those numbers are rigged. So let’s just make the best of it while we’re here. A weird mishmash where our 80s post-punk leanings and some of those 80/90s hardcore roots meet and make hot love in a dark neon-lit alley.
– Ever wondered when you’d reach your breaking point? Do you want to reach your breaking point? And then what? This song is about no returns. Your receipt is invalid. There’s no going back. We wanted the intro to sound like a broken carnival theme because that’s how we roll. Some sludgy hardcore things here but also some noisy 80s indie… I’m not the best judge as to how it sounds, I just make this shit.
DOWNPOUR FOR LIFETIMES
– The concept of «Inherited Sins» is very bizarre yet still in full effect; just not from the hands of a god. Our trajectories; be it nature vs. nurture or both, will shape us. Cursed generations, shook by shaking hands. We wanted the start of the track to be an abrasive in your face punk thing, then ease softly into more 80s indie territory, as well as paying a nod to Wales’ finest; Future Of The Left, a.k.a. one of the staples during our recording sessions. Highly recommended.
DON’T FORGET THE FEAR
– Remember we told you in the 1st track to stay on your toes? That fear is real. It might not have actual guns, but it does have ways to cripple you. Some of it’s only in your head. Some of it’s actual fucked up reality. Get those two divided, and you’ll be more sorted in the upcoming apocalypse. Going for those loungy Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds-aesthetics, and then some noise rock channelled via our eternal Afghan Whigs worship, plus Botch, Russian Circles, and the more jammy side of Slint.
SOMETHING’S AMISS AT THE HIVE
– Thematically, just a sequence of juxtaposed thoughts and ideas from a random group of people caught in the midst of complete and utter societal structural collapse. No solutions yet an acceptance in demise. There’s beauty to be had in a last sunrise. How that sounds? Uh… To us it sounds like 90s things like Quicksand, Fireside and Snapcase, but also maybe Richmond’s finest: City Of Caterpillar. The best ones at atmospheric hardcore, if there’s a sound like that.
OUR WORDS AS A WARNING
– Here we go again, warning you about the big collapse. Sounds like a concept album to us. We’re trying to sweet-talk to you. Just listen, and you’ll know we’re right. We go down together, and this song chronicles our common downfall. Sonically, I feel a strong City of Caterpillar meets The Afghan Whigs vibe on this one, with 80s guyliner smeared all over.
ON BEING LAZARUS
– The past is the past and that past probably seems tense, but that past is TENSE. It’s not here to hurt you anymore, just a construct in your mind. Even though it comes to you in bad dreams and cripples you in everyday life, that fear is after all just basically air. Not even that. It’s harmless. Kill that fucker and live a rich and healthy life forever. Come again to see the end. Here we do our best impression of Classic Rock.
MY FIRST MUGSHOT
– About setting the records straight. Some things have consequences that you can’t escape from. Nor deserve to escape from. You get what you get. I guess it’s a power ballad about vigilante activism. Sonically, we felt like a Scratch Acid meets These Arms Are Snakes-vibe, I guess? Strange way to end the album but for us it fits like a velvet glove cast in iron.