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Årabrot- Norwegian Gothic (2021 Pelagic Records)

As an eclectic music listener I love Årabrot, as they cater to quite a lot of my musical tastes. They have always been a bit of an odd duck in the pond, coming from Melvins-style weirdo doom and going into all kinds of different directions from goth to noise rock to straight up movie music. The wide range of different guests on the album tells us a lot in this respect: from Turbonegro to Motorpsycho, and from Jo Quail to Jagga Jazzist and Zu. Says the band: “Musically it [Norwegian Gothic] is inspired by all the albums of our record collection and thematically by the books we have in our shelves“.

First of all; there is the vocal department. Main male vocalist Kjettil Nernes sounds a bit like a pained Tom Verlaine (Television) these days, which immediately pushes the sound in a darkened post punk direction. Partner in crime Karin Park chimes in quite a few times too, which adds to the overall weird operatic/cinematic feel. There’s definitely an affection with the era Siouxie Sioux and Bauhaus, but there is a lot more than goth to Norwegian Gothic….

Norwegian Gothic feels a bit like a musical, a dark and twisted cabaret without synchronized dances and plastic merriment, but it has a similar narrative and dramatic quality. A song like Hallucinational is a perfect example, you can easily see Park sitting on stage singing her heart out with dramatic imagery while the rest of the band is gearing up for a next sonic assault like (This Is) The Night or Hard Love. The spoken parts (interviews? Documentaries? Movies?) add to the cinematic feel as well. The heavy parts range from dark postpunk reminiscent of Beastmilk to the galloping folk rhythms of a band like Wovenhand.

If there was a an overall theme oozing out of the album it would probably be the creeping of time and lurking decay. The grande finale You’re Not That Special speaks in images; we were made out of dust and will turn back into it. Before that time comes though, it’s important to get everything out of life, to love, and to create something. To dance into the night, and to sleep when you’re dead. Norwegian Gothic is that statement of two mortals trying to squeeze everything out of life, while being painfully aware of its shortcomings.

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