on August 5th, 2016 at Nuneaton, UK
Since making the change from metalcore to alternative-rock in 2015, Swedish four-piece Normandie have been enjoying a wealth of new experiences. Back in March this year the band released Inguz, their first full-length album with their new sound and recently, in support of the album, the band landed in the UK to play their first ever headlining tour on the island. We had a chat with the band at their show in Nuneaton to find out more about their change in style, the reaction to the new record and the band’s future plans.
22nd July, 2016
It’s been a year of firsts for Swedish four-piece Normandie. In the lead up to their first full length record the band also experienced a loss of band members and a change in style. Now, in support of their anthemic alt-rock debut Inguz, Normandie arrive to play their first shows in the UK.
Never Hill opened the night with a surprisingly accomplished set. Vocalist Adam Ross owns the performance with his soulful voice that’s reminiscent of Emarosa’s Bradley Walden, but sadly the band’s songs don’t quite match the quality of his voice just yet. However, Never Hill show a lot of potential and are certainly ones to watch as they continue to grow and improve. Breathe in the Silence have the songs and the stage presence to get the crowd nicely warmed up. Their heavy alt-rock is well matched to this tour and with excellent vocals and interesting instrumentals to back it up, the five-piece are an impressive live act.
Normandie’s set was marred by a series of unfortunate events, making the performance not entirely representative of the band’s abilities. A broken van contributed to a late arrival and after a swift change over and no sound check, the first half of the set was a fight against a poor mix. The backing track was far too prominent over the live instruments, leading to a strange mix of volumes and too much reliance on pre-recorded effects. Inguz’s only flaw is being overproduced and having such a prominent backing track playing during the set doesn’t help the conveyance of raw emotion and power that live performances thrive on.
Lacking the time for a thorough warm up, vocalist Philip Strand struggled to hit the right notes early on, but overcame this as the set went on. It’s amazing how quickly a performance can change once a band feels comfortable and by the mid-way point the creases were ironed out and the band got into full flow. The infectious “Something New” emerged as one of the stand-out songs of a revived set, Strand bounding around the stage and getting the crowd involved. Sadly, just as the performance got going it had to be cut short due to the venue’s curfew.
When the balance is right Normandie are a fantastic live act, set closer “Collide” proving the point with its huge chorus and stomping beats. Without the technical problems there’s no doubt that the performance would’ve been markedly different, such is the talent and potential of the band, making them a must see next time around when hopefully everything goes according to plan.
Losing band members is rarely a pleasant experience, but sometimes forced change can be a blessing in disguise. For Normandie, the departure of their bass player and screaming co-vocalist in 2015 presented an opportunity to shift from metalcore to something more melodic and the result is a highly impressive debut album. Inguz is their first exploration into alternative pop/rock and, led by the excellent vocals of now lone frontman Philip Strand, they’ve made quite a statement.
The band waste no time getting stuck in, “Fight” and “Awakening” serving up huge slabs of sound that are as infectious as they are powerful. Strand’s vocals are perfectly suited to such powerful anthems, mixing a warming tone with just enough raspiness to keep each song firmly grounded in the alternative rock arena. This edge in Strand’s vocals prevents certain songs from crossing the line into cheesy pop-rock, such as “Something New” which, despite its jarring, pop-oriented opening, ends up being one of the highlights of the record, thanks to Normandie’s eagerness to retain aspects of their heavy roots in their songwriting.
For the most part this is achieved through the instrumentals which stay closely connected to the band’s metalcore past, retaining the downtuned guitars and heavy riffs to give Normandie an aggressive backdrop against the catchy vocals. The huge riffs and pounding drums are a welcome reminder of the band’s more aggressive credentials and by retaining these heavier elements, Normandie manage to cater for those looking for more bite and impact in their music, as well as brilliantly structured vocal hooks to sing along to.
Each of the album’s ten tracks are excellently written and brilliantly executed however the production style doesn’t compliment the raw edge of the band’s instrumentals. The heavy riffs lack maximum impact due to the guitars sounding overly processed rather than holding a crunching, natural tone and the multi-layered vocal effect reduces the character in Strand’s voice on some of the bigger choruses.
Despite the production niggles, Normandie’s debut album is an unquestionable success, packed full of fist-in-the-air anthems that manage to be catchy yet aggressive at the same time. For their first attempt at alt-rock, they’ve managed to produce a highly consistent album that could easily contain ten singles, as each track races through without a bar of filler material. Inguz proves that good things can be borne from unfortunate circumstances and now that their debut album is under their belts, they’re well on their way to making a big impact in their newly chosen genre.
Swedish indie rock outfit Normandie have signed on with InVogue Records. The band’s first release for their new label will be their debut LP titled Inguz, due for release on March 11th.
Ahead of the street date, the band are streaming two videos for the tracks Collide and Believe. Check them out below.