You know the 21st century? Well Arabs In Aspic don’t, and they only began in 1997. For all their devotion to 60s psychedelic rock and the early Black Sabbath-like weight and atmosphere that wavers between ‘evil fairground’ and party-friendly King Crimson, they manage to be fabulously indulgent and also sound fresh.
With Pictures In A Dream they’ve elaborated on the vocal harmonies to gloriously stirring effect, built on organ elements (growing since the arrival of keysman Stig Arve Jørgensen) and, quite simply, become better songwriters — even adding a few Norwegian lyrics for even further mystique.
Things get off to a strong start with unquestionably good tune Rejected Wasteland. The Robert Plant-like banshee gasps and retro horror movie organ in You Are Blind evolve suddenly into a very catchy, major vocal refrain — powered up by Focus-channelling guitar chops and organ blasts. Robustly menacing classic rock riffery propels Hard To Find, while organ stylings and layered 70s harmonies keep one foot decidedly in the past.
If you haven’t heard Arabs In Aspic, this is a good point at which to join them. Onwards and upwards, oh retro yet feisty Scandinavians…