Those following the 20-year career of Norway’s favourite noise rock refuse scavengers – their moniker is taken from the name of a garbage dump in Haugesund – have likely noticed that as Årabrot’s career has progressed, they’ve been slowly leaning towards the ‘rock’ side of the equation. Ten albums in and that slow lean continues as Norwegian Gothic shaves away more of the abrasion in its exploration of isolation, triumph, and every rocker’s topics: sex and death.
The album’s four-track opening block barrels out like a well-oiled machine of fine-tuned proggy punk and discordant grunge that gussies up the edges with 90s alt-rock (Carnival Of Love), dancefloor disco vs latter-day Mastodon (The Rule Of Silence), ventricle-pumping rhythms, loping guitars, understated keys and Unsane’s slow knife twist (Feel It On) and Fugazi taking a bright-eyed run at Steve Albini’s catalogue (The Lie).
Despite emerging with a quartet of awesome songs cut from an awesome cloth, Årabrot refuse to sit still, incorporating dynamics and diversions that prevent a good thing from being driven into the ground. Hallucinational does what the title promises, calling on David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti for a rendezvous in downtown Twin Peaks with steel guitars and reverb pedals at the ready. A distorted bass, Kjetil Nernes’ tortured howl and a riff crossing Ramones and Swans directs (This Is) The Night into shadowy corners. Hard Love imagines Lightning Bolt’s frenetic pace slowed by two thirds and presented via baritone guitar, caveman drum patterns and Karin Park doing her best Chrissy ‘Divinyls’ Amphlett. Hounds Of Heaven is a low-end, organ-speckled beast ripe for any Church Of Satan service and, as a whole, Norwegian Gothic is Årabrot rocking at their most conventional while managing to stir fresh colours into the genre’s 70-plus-year-old palette.