NORSE ‘Pest’ EP Review

The second EP, following two full lengths, ‘Pest’, from Australian blackened death metal duo ‘Norse’ can best be described as an instinctive and highly incendiary form of metamorphosed black metal, that has a definite dissonant edge, with surprisingly placed, dirge-laden sections, yet there is an atmospheric quality to the sound also, admittedly it’s the kind of atmosphere you would get in a thunderstorm, powerfully charged and somewhat unnerving, along with an Industrial edge also.

It’s a modern take on blackened death metal that is highly innovative, so it’s no surprise that part of this duo is Forge(Robin Stone), former drummer with the equally innovative Industrial death metal outfit ‘The Amenta’, and the only original remaining member of Norse, who originally began as a five piece in 2005, covering all instruments and joined by ADR(Adric Ryan) covering vocals and lyric composition duties. The sound passes between death and black metal realms in a meandering way and you wonder how the overall concept could possibly work, but it does in the darkest and bleakest of ways and alongside all the discordant riffing sits a superb battery of varied drum work across all the tracks, greatly adding to the finished product.

 It’s a six track offering spanning twenty- six delightfully disturbing minutes beginning with ‘Encoded Weakness’ immediately breaking into discordant riffs and vitriolic vocals. The riffs, besides being discordant, repeat in a hypnotic manner giving an uncomfortable melodic feel making the track both, listenable and fascinating. The direction also switches cleverly around, dropping to doom laden depths towards the end.

Shortest track ‘Disarmed, Toothless, Weak’ continues in a similar vein but is more blackened and it’s probably my favourite of the release, I found myself going back to it repeatedly to re-listen, but I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that draws me, it has all the factors of the other tracks but maybe in a more concentrated abundance .

Title track and longest ‘Pest’ is slightly slower and has a rather good, uncomfortable metallic edge to the sound , plunging into a dirge midway, spoken vocals overlaid with guttural vocal noises towards the latter end heralding an intensifying rebuild of pace.

‘True Insignificance’ is a brain pummelling track that is more heavily drum emphasised and has a great oppressive quality.

‘Irradiator’ opens on some sonic, almost psychedelic programming with the vitriolic gargle of the vocals ripping through like a buzz saw and the drums following up the onslaught with a battery of beats, there is quite a dirty edge in the riffs that bend and distort with impunity.

Final track ‘Aimless’ opens briefly with drone, immediately coming in with discordant riffling on the arrival of the rasping vitriolic vocals, switching tempo between a dirge and discordant mayhem, across its length, making an intriguing listen.

The album is hugely experimental and certainly offers a very different listen and should appeal to anyone who enjoys challenging, boundary pushing, blackened death metal that isn’t trying to sound like anyone else. Pest is out now on Transcending Obscurity.

Review by Jools Green


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