Vulture Industries - Stranger Times album review

Nordic eccentrics open up an exhilarating new box of tricks

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Since their 2007 debut, Bergen’s Vulture Industries have revelled in the theatrical, eccentric, avant-garde territory that became a Norwegian phenomenon thanks to Arcturus, Ulver, Solefald and Fleurety. 2013’s honed masterwork of carnivalesque prog metal, The Tower, was the most satisfying showcase for VI’s singular strengths, but with their fourth album they’ve stripped it right down, developing a big arena rock itch that they have audible fun scratching. Openers Tales Of Woe and As The World Burns are some of the band’s simplest, most accessible material, and while the heartfelt acoustic blues of My Body, My Blood and Gentle Touch Of A Killer’s declamatory doom churn make a versatile pairing, they maintain the album’s more straightforward, uncluttered approach. While it doesn’t ape the full pop trajectory of new Ulver, there’s a similar exuberance, simplicity and lightness of touch invigorating the band’s methodology, the ghost of Bowie hanging discreetly over the proceedings.