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Album Reviews : Norse – Pest

By on June 24, 2014

Goulburn NSW-based metallers Norse are relative unknowns on the grander Australian stage, however their latest independently released offering: Pest ought to shake the underground right up to any foundations that it helps support.  This is one ferocious, at times disturbing and downright tight record, however “experimental” (by some definition) it is not.

Prior to the release of Pest, Norse (whose line-up currently comprises session bassist Marcus “Wes” Bastiaanse, drummer Frog, session rhythm guitarist Shane Querruel and guitarist/vocalist Treelo Herrington)* has unleashed a total of four releases: two EPs and two full-length albums.  With the band approaching a full decade of active presence among the metal circuit, surely it is time for all to sit up and take notice.

Tags such as “extreme,” “technical” and/or “blackened death metal,” never mind “experimental,” fall short in encompassing the breadth and diversity of Norse’s sound.  The end result of such composition is that of disturbing atmospherics, thereby making Pest greater than the sum of its parts.  “Encoded Weakness” opens the record in formidable fashion; time signature changes, chunky riffs and at times off beat rhythm dominate while Treelo Herrington’s blackened, gutteral vocals add the platelets and plasma to this bloody sonic imagery.  Its conclusion (punctuated with growls of “you will rot!”), meanwhile, takes on a bass-led, progressive feel, thereby indicating forthcoming twists and turns throughout what becomes quite the intestinal dissection.

The title track to Pest, “Irradiator” and the brilliantly horrific “True Insignificance” are all tracks that see Norse unleash creativity, complexity and brutality; each in equally proportioned yet unevenly concentrated dosages.  Listen for the single bass notes drawn out over whole bars during the latter piece.  To call this experimentation is an understatement, for Norse have no longer any want nor need for hypotheses.  Upon the strength of this evidence alone, the band did away with such things years ago; hence the results are now applicable.  The victims, they lay in wait.

Lyrical themes are for the most part, shall we say, of a rather misanthropic and even apocalyptic bent.  The very name of the EP: Pest certainly alludes to a strongly held sentiment against the very nature of our species.  Judging by 2012’s previous release, All is Mist and Fog, it certainly appears there is more going on than meets the eye with Norse’s approach to music.  The artwork of both releases cannot be relied upon alone to draw an immediate conclusion of where the band is going, which can only be a good thing given metal’s susceptibility to clichés (or is that over-reliance upon?).

Norse will be headlining the Poisoned Kings Tour, which touches down in NSW, the ACT and Victoria throughout July.  You would have to be an absent-minded mad scientist to miss it.

Band: Norse
Album: Pest
Year: 2014
Genre: Blackened death metal
Label: Independent
Origin: Goulburn, NSW

Track list:
1. Encoded Weakness
2. Disarmed, Toothless, Week
3. Pest
4. True Insignificance
5. Irradiator
6. Aimless