Årabrot are an absolute beast. Hailing from Norway, they have been plugging away since 2001 with their Melvins inspired sludgy noise rock and slowly but steadily making a name for themselves in the UK. They supported Kvelertak at their legendary sell out shows in the London Borderline last year and their previous offering Solar Anus won a Norwegian Grammy and delivered a big fat slap in the face that made sure everyone was paying attention. They are loud, brutal but slightly camp making them a unique experience both live and on record. Anyway, a couple of line-up changes later they are back with their sixth studio album which is self-titled. When a band releases a self-titled album which is not their debut it always makes you wonder why… is it going to be their best? Is this the one that is going to define them as a band? Well I’m delighted so say the answer is a big fat fucking yes.
Apparently whilst writing this tasty little album, singer and guitarist Kjetil Nernes “inhabited an old abandoned church just across the border in Sweden, in a pastoral countryside where time has stood still for generations”. This explains the countless religious references in this album, mainly referring to Satan rather than God you’ll all be pleased to know. The album also sounds like the creation of someone who has been in solitude. Madness has consumed him and there’s not many ideas presented which have any relation to reality. The opener ‘H-Satan Dêofol’ has a warm glow about it when it kicks off, a soft hum but with a hint of the sadistic. It’s intriguing and makes you want to know what’s inside. We’re treated early doors to an Årabrot trademark, the vocals in the verse being accompanied to pounding drums alone... a band doing what they do best basically. The lyrics hiss out some kind of debate about whose blood is on the floor, it’s pretty dark stuff but you want it. By the time we’re firing into ‘Throwing Rocks at the Devil’ we know we’re in for something special. Årabrot have really trimmed the fat and nailed down their USP. They are delivering quirky anthems but with immeasurable ferocity. I can’t think of a band who can do this better than these guys.
The anthems keep getting chucked at you to the point where you wonder how on earth it could be happening. ‘Arrabal’s Dream’ (featuring guest vocals by Kylesa's Laura Pleasants) and ‘Blood on the Poet’ are prime examples of this, catchy as can be but mixed in with a full blown hurricane of doom ripping through it. You might think they lose their grip on this animal mid-way through or toward the end but it does not give an inch and it lacks any kind of filler whatsoever. ‘Blood on Bunny’ is one of the best songs you’ll hear this year and the second half ‘The Horns of the Devil Grow’ can only be described as completely mental. Importantly this album regularly delivers brutal riffs that could stand up to anyone on this planet, what more could you possibly want? Kjetil has a ridiculous set of lungs on him too.
This is undoubtedly their best album. My favourite thing about is the contradictions it makes when listening to it… it’s poppy yet heavy, chaotic yet controlled and this isn’t separated into parts; all this is happening right at the same time from the first second to the last. It’s completely ruthless and unforgiving on its mission to constantly keep us entertained. This album is huge, an out and out masterpiece and don’t do anything silly like not buying it. Do Kvelertak have a challenge on their hands to claim the best Norwegian rock album of year? Just maybe.