Album Reviews

Årabrot – Solar Anus

(Fysisk Format) UK release date: 12 September 2011

Any band that names itself after a municipal dump is almost certainly well versed in the kind of filth that mankind churns out at an alarming pace. Finding beauty in such surroundings is no easy task but mix in a little of George Bataille’s philosophy and suddenly everything is not quite so black and white. Bataille wrote of unifying high and low art and the dichotomy of the feral and the divine that exists in very being of mankind. Taking this as the concept of their fifth album, Årabrot brutally explore a world of faecal alchemists and belching heavenly bodies, where everything serves as a parody of everything else.

This being Årabrot there’s nothing that would ordinarily be referred to as heavenly to be found within the unrelenting grooves that populate the album. There are no choirs here, no soaring strings or delicately plucked harps, just relentless brutality and repetition.

It is the repetition that provides Årabrot’s curious charm. Riffs are repeated, and repeated. Then repeated again, as they expand into a seemingly infinite sprawling morass of fuzzed out noise. At times these riffs constitute little more than two-note undulations which are propelled by the sinister tribal rumblings of drummer Vidar Evensen and the surprisingly versatile vocals of and guitarist Kjetil Nernes. The effect is similar to one of extreme enforced hypnosis or being pummelled into a coma by a club wielding Neanderthal who inexplicably has a cave full of Nietzsche.

Kicking off with Solar Anus the band quickly settles into a rolling groove that loops and morphs in tone but rarely strays from the chosen path. Nernes is in top form here, as he alters his voice constantly as the song progresses. From his high pitched sarcastic whine of “I am the sun” through growling Death Metal roars and ever increasingly unhinged clean vocals, he prowls the song in various guises, each of them infused with a manic energy. As the song reaches its conclusion, the electronic contributions of Concept.virus come to the fore. The grinding riffing may have subsided, but the ominous atmosphere he conjures has just as much power, and sounds not unlike early Godflesh. Similarly, these electronic nuances serve to elevate final track The Wheel Is Coming Full Circle into a phenomenal sonic barrage that seeks to fuse the message centres of the brain.

For the most part however, this is a relatively stripped back affair, and the band quite wisely opted for Steve Albini when recording the album. Albini is of course a champion of recording, rather than producing, preferring to capture the sound of the band rather than resort to studio trickery. As such, Solar Anus sounds like a live performance, albeit one played in the suburbs of Hell. It’s to Albini’s credit that he’s retained the band’s full and primal sound. Nernes’ guitars are wiry but possess a serrated bottom end, whilst Evensen’s drums sound as if they’re being played in the room with you as they release wave after wave of vicious rolls and blasts. The likes of the Melvins inflected Nubile and the rampant rumble of Madonna Was A Whore benefit dramatically from Albini’s touch. Both find the band in full flight at their most brutal and disturbing. The overriding effect is to make the world that the band inhabits all the more real and thrilling.

Solar Anus represents a band at the height of the powers. It can at times be uncomfortable listening it and requires time and attention to fully reveal itself, but as Prince himself once declared there is joy in repetition.

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More on Årabrot
Årabrot – The Gospel
Årabrot – Årabrot
Årabrot – Solar Anus
Årabrot – Revenge