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Arabrot - Arabrot (Album Review)

Monday, 19 August 2013 Written by Ben Bland

Årabrot are genuinely filthy. Not in the lewd, posturing sense of a Mötley Crüe or Steel Panther though. They are grimy and nasty, as they proved it on 2011’s ‘Solar Anus’, which was an obscene chunk of blackened noise sludge.

Now, Årabrot are back with something similarly impure, and, as if the point needed to be made further, they’ve decided to go down the self-titled route to emphasise that this is the definition of their sound.

Yet, despite all the unpleasantness in Årabrot’s sound, theirs is an addictive mix. Opener Ha-Satan Dêofol is classic Årabrot. Catchy vocals combine with riffs the size of Buzz Osborne’s hair in order to force the listener into appreciation.

It’s not subtle, but it’s a lot cleverer than its unwieldy sonic mass may suggest on first listen. Årabrot know that it’s not enough to just sound heavy. You have to feel heavy too, and right from the off they feel titanic.

Although nominally just a duo, Årabrot have always been keen to collaborate in the studio and that hasn’t changed. Various members of the Norwegian experimental scene popped in to add their sounds to the mix throughout recording, and the result is a soundscape as cluttered and dense as the band’s two-piece live shows can be furiously basic. Arrabal’s Dream features a guest vocal from Laura Pleasants of Kylesa, something that almost passes by unnoticed amid the crashing thunder of the guitar.

Further explaining Årabrot’s increased aura of heaviness this time around is the writing approach of frontman Kjetil Nernes, who retired to an abandoned church in Sweden to pen lyrics for this record. Inspired by early 20th century surrealism, the mythologies of Ancient Greece and the Old Testament, the mood of ‘Årabrot’ is largely defined by a desire to escape from the damaged chaos of city life. Listening to the likes of Drawing Down The Moon and the colossal closer Mænads, one feels curiously trapped, as if being swallowed whole by an unforgiving urban environment.

Even on the ludicrous Blood On The Poet, there is something distinctly uneasy about ‘Årabrot’ and if one critique could be made of their previous records then it’s that the tension occasionally dissipated. Not here. Instead Årabrot have made the most intriguing record of their career to date, one that chews you up and spits you out with real venom.

The fact that it’s so enthrallingly listenable, then, makes it a seriously dangerous proposition. If Årabrot have always been the sound of the dank and the filthy then ‘Årabrot’ is the sound of you and I sinking down to join them.

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