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Arabs In Aspic - Syndenes Magi album review

Norse time travellers at the zenith of their powers

Norway’s prog scene seems to be flourishing more than ever right now, so Arabs In Aspic’s time to be more widely appreciated must surely have come. Syndenes Magi will not bamboozle long-time fans of the band: this is very much more of the same immaculately constructed retro prog with strong Sabbath-saluting undercurrents and a big, sepia-tinted analogue grin on its face. For the thus far uninitiated, the band’s sixth album simply denotes the moment that you all fall in love with them too, because from the opening slow-build crescendos and Hammond tsunamis of the title track to the euphoric, Floydian sweep of sleepy-eyed closing epic Mörket 3, this is a stunning, multidirectional trip. The fact that vocalist Jostein Smeby sings the entire thing in Norwegian continues to be the secret weapon in the quintet’s arsenal, adding a dash of the hazily exotic to what are already wildly psychedelic pieces (unless, of course, you speak Norwegian). As a result, even when locking into one of their trademark Uriah Heep-like turbo-blues riffs, AIA sound like a band with a unique perspective and deep roots in a sound and style that, let’s face it, will never stop hitting the spot.