The Norwegian band creates a positive-negative charge

In electrostatics, unlike charges attract each other. But on “Negative Music,” you get the sense Haust is repulsed by everything.

The Norwegian band’s new album is a negative charge forced against every direction.

The band debuted in 2008 with “Ride the Relapse.” After a couple albums and a several-year hiatus, the original lineup returns to release “Negative Music.”

The new album pounds mid-tempo, concrete-crushing sounds. The production is solid, and the vocal performance is all in.

Haust vocalist and lyricist Vebjørn Guttormsgaard Møllberg talked to Rebel Noise about negativity, inspiration, and reckoning with dominant economic and social forces.

RN: I really enjoyed listening to “Negative Music.” This was my first time hearing the band. The album title and press release center on negativity. What is the attraction of negativity?

VGM: For me, this is what attracted me to punk and black metal in the first place. This music is about saying No to harmony both in a musical and social sense. You don’t listen to a band like Darkthrone or Rudimentary Peni to meditate and become Zen. Still, while I am saying this, I realize that maybe some people, including myself, become a more balanced human being by releasing and acting out negativity through music.

RN: How much of the negativity is social and how much is personal?

VGM: I wish I could say that it’s all social, but it’s definitely not. A lot of the lyrics are about personal issues that also of course are connected to social issues. I hope our audience can see through the I-hate-myself-and-I-want-to-die part and see that at least 80 percent of their depression is caused by capitalism and our neoliberalist, technology-positive, and war-mongering society

RN: I’ve heard Haust’s debut was inspired in part by the “destructive car-culture” of Notodden. What is the car culture in Notodden? And what was bad about it?

VGM: Three of us grew up in the small town Notodden, two hours from Oslo. It is an old industrial town that was built around factories. In the 80s, most of the factories were shut down, and there has been a growing unemployment rate since then. Around the same time, a lot of people started driving up and down the street of the city center and, slowly, some kind of car-driving milieu developed around this activity. They all have huge sound systems in their cars and play techno and country music so loud that the cars are shaking, making a lot of noise.

I don’t know about how it is today, but when we were teenagers, they were dating girls as young as us (14-17), and we really hated them, and they hated us.

So I wouldn’t say that our debut was inspired by them as much as inspired by our hate against them. We were skater freaks with long hair, and they always shouted “cut your hair and get a job” out of their windows—ironic, since probably a lot of them were unemployed.

Decades later, when I am visiting my hometown, these guys still throw stuff at me out of their windows when I am walking in the city center street.

RN: The songs on “Negative Music” sound consistently loud and heavy. Do you have to resist including an acoustic or some other style of song?

VGM: This is the music we want to play. If we would play other styles of music, we would start another band.

RN: “Where Evil Dwells” and “The Vanishing” sound like interludes. What is the intention of these songs and their placement in the album?

VGM: You are right, they are interludes, and the intention is to have some breathing space in between the songs and still maintain the dark, creepy mood.

RN: How does Norway play into your music? And what kinds of things do you think people around the world should know about Norway?

VGM: We have a love/hate relationship towards our country. We love the nature, and to some extent the values of the social democratic society, but we hate the spoiled holier-than-thou attitude that a lot of Norwegians have. Our small society has gained too much capital in a really short time (since we found oil in the 70s), and there are a lot of newly rich people with really bad attitudes towards the rest of the world.

There is a lot of good music from our country that has inspired us, and some of the best are Emperor, Darkthrone, A-ha, Noxagt, Arne Nordheim, Maja Ratkje, Kafka Prosess, and Biosphere.

Also make sure to check out the new hardcore band Accelerator and the death metal band Nithe that both will be supporting us on our release show in Oslo.

Vebjørn Guttormsgaard Møllberg is generous to promote other bands. Meanwhile, his own band, Haust, opens “Negative Music” with the screeching guitars, damning drums, and the abrasive vocal of “Left to Die.” The sound is a howling catharsis caving in with thick distortion and anguished lyrics that reject you—"No room here, no room, no room! There is no room for losers ‘round here! No room, no room!"

The vocal on “Dead Ringer,” posted above, is equally unwelcoming and committed, wrung straight from the lungs—“I’m slipping into darkness, I’m slipping into nightmares; I hear a sound, and I wake up—my blood runs cold!” There is an affect in the pronunciations, rolling Rs like something vaguely Hungarian. The song even has a burning little guitar lead at 2:20.

The songs knock down your eardrums with rhythmic change-ups and syncopation. And with negativity—negativity that maybe can help people become more balanced by releasing negativity through music.

Interview date: Apr 12, 2024

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