Posts Tagged ‘Sludgy’

29th January 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

This is one hell of a broiling blender mix of shit all going off at once: there’s a 90s noise rock vibe with a heavy psychedelic twist – like Fudge Tunnel covering Gallon Drunk in duet with Terminal Cheesecake. If that means nothing or otherwise doesn’t float your boat, you may want to step off the moving pavement now. Call me perverse, but a large part of the appeal is just how messy and unpretty this is, the guitars so thick and dirty.

After the sludgy sprawl of ‘Designer Smile’, ‘Panic Laps’ shudders in on a dense bass and manages to bring a lumbering Sabbath-esque fiff in the style of Melvins while at the same time bringing a jarring, mathy aspect.

Despite being Australian, their irreverent style of noise has a very British feel to it, and while pretty much every aspect of every track can be referenced back to something without too much effort, it’s about how it all hangs together – and thanks to a dominant rhythm section that delivers nothing fancy, instead keeping everything straightforward and geared toward the bottom end – it hangs together nicely, despite the songs often veering off in different directions, with a chiming picked post-punk guitar part here and a soaring solo there.

‘Cut the Slack’ is slower and built around a sedated reinterperetation of the kind of cyclical riff that featured so heavily on Nirvana’s Bleach – only more psychey. It’s a dense, heavy buzz of a racket, and it doesn’t stop driving forward, hard and loud for so much as a second as the band power through seven tracks before the closer, ‘Don’t Laugh’, a six-minute throbber.

Their third album and their first album in some four years has – deservedly – been getting some attention already, and could be the one that sees them break out of Australia, albeit not physically for the foreseeable.

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7th September – Pelagic Records

Christopher Nosnibor

The absence of a question mark renders the album’s title a statement rather than a question. But there are no questions about Årabrot: 17 years and a substantial catalogue into their career, the Norwegian noise-rock act are still noisy, challenging, and kicking ass. But according to the blurb accompanying the release, ‘there is more than noise rock to Årabrot’s formula. “I’m interested in feelings, either the very silent or the extremely noisy”, band leader Kjetil Nernes comments. “I don’t care about what’s in between, the middle of the road isn’t my thing. The bible fits really well with that. I’m using it thematically all of the time.”

But mostly it’s noisy, and that’s a good thing. That said, Who Do You Love is very much an album of extremes – which is only fitting of a record that references transgressive French poet Comte de Lautréamont in its opening song, which crashes in with a heavy psych-hued riff – but the guitars are dominant and angular throughout. It’s loud, and it’s insistent. The guitars are choppy, the vocals whooping, sneery, and bathed in reverb and flange. It’s kinda punky, but equally kinda post punk, and kinda no-wave noisy.

With chunky, punky riffs carved out against solid rhythms that are by turn loping, square and stop/start, plus shouty vocals throughout the course of the album – ‘Warning’ is exemplary: Who Do You Love brings the attack in spadesful – but then again, it’s an album with textures, layers. ‘Sons and Daughters’ is a spacious country / shoegaze hybrid that’s both beautiful and captivating.

‘Pygmalion’ marks a real shift, it’s ethereal humming drones fittering like butterflies, while the sinewy ‘Simmerman’ is different again, a howling, roaring country rock stomp replete with anguished vocals that run ragged and pull Biblical anguish over devils and pain from the depths. It’s bold, theatrical, immense, but more importantly, it’s got a gut pull that’s emotionally engaging in its snarling delivery. Elsewhere ‘Look Daggers’ plunges deeper and darker still, meshing together the heavy grey nihilism and insistent throb of Killing Joke with a thicker, more metal delivery and hints of latter-day Swans in its insistent, throbbing groove that’s demolished in a roaring rage. ‘A Sacrifice’ begin with a heavy trudge, and the stop/start riffage, coupled with the blank monotone vocals – heavily treated – call to mind Foetus – before the buzzsaw riff breaks in after a couple of minutes.

Closer ‘Uniform of a Killer’ is all about the ebb and flow, the surge and fall, the climax and drop, not to mention all the drama. It again calls to mind later-day Swans, as well as pacing in hints of Bauhaus and myriad others, but compresses 15-minute builds to a minute or so, the track lasting only six and a half minutes. Never mind the length, check the density! ‘Uniform of a Killer’ certainly packs the density, and the intensity, too.

Who Do You Love is a BIG album. Not so much in duration (although it’s big enough) but in every other sense. It has depth, it has range. It has force. It has intensity, and it has tunes. Really, you couldn’t ask for more.

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Årabrot – Who Do You Love