By: Richard Collins
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Released on February 26, 2016 via Fysisk Format
The world of noise rock was shaken when it was revealed Kjetil Nernes of Årabrot had been diagnosed with throat cancer, it was just shocking. Not only are his vocals the driving force behind one of the world’s most powerful bands, but he’s also one of the nicest chaps you’ll ever meet. Luckily, he made a full recovery and has extensively toured Europe and America since like it ain’t no thing.
Now here we are with the release of The Gospel, Årabrot’s seventh studio album over a twelve year existence and was written during Kjetil’s surgery, treatment and recovery. With this in mind, you probably would not be surprised if The Gospel became their darkest and most disturbing album, but the complete opposite has happened, they’ve gone pop. But don’t panic, it’s for all the right reasons. Not only that, it was half recorded in Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio in Chicago and the other half in an old church in the woods of Dalarna, Sweden, which is a combo of locations you just can’t fuck with.
Despite the hundreds of line-up changes, Årabrot have always been a fairly straight forward Melvins-esque noise rock band. Maxed out guitars, thundering drums and alarming vocals. The Gospel is a very different beast though, there’s much more stuff going on, which could potentially be down to the many guest appearances from the likes of Ted Parsons (Killing Joke, Swans, Prong), Andrew Liles (Current 93/Nurse With Wound), Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O)))/KTL) and Erlend Hjelvik (Kvelertak). Anyway it’s a real journey and every track has a very different vibe making each one feel like an intriguing little chapter along the way. Whether you’re getting completely lost in the piano heavy chorus of ‘Tall Man’ or zoning out to the minimal yet somehow industrial ‘Faustus’, you are simply enraptured by an experience that never stops transforming. ‘And The Whore Is This City’ almost feels like it belongs onstage in the West End. We’re played out by ‘Rebekkka (Tragoedie)’, an absorbing little pop song.
You might read all this and think ‘What the hell have they done?’ However, I can confirm they absolutely fucking smashed it. If the production or the level of song writing wasn’t spot on it would be awful, but the gamble has paid off big time. The Gospel could transform this weird Norwegian noise rock band into world beaters, they’ve pushed their sonic boundaries and sound all the better for it. Amazing!