Sunday, September 29, 2013

Årabrot: Årabrot (2013)

Finally Getting It

I’ve tried several times to figure out the appeal of Norwegian noise rockers Årabrot. There was obviously something there, but it eluded me. And so, without forming an opinion, I avoided saying anything about them. Of course, as soon as I did say something dismissive about them, I got my hands on their self-titled album.

Soon, I found myself singing choruses like, “I’m throwing rocks at the devil” long after I turned the music off. I found myself attempting the drum pattern from the opening track with pen on desk, and humming its vocal melody. Årabrot was just getting under my skin and growing there.

I still don’t know what noise rock is. Presumably, at least one of you is as ignorant as I am about this. Apparently it’s a style of punk rock that incorporates dissonance, emerging in the early 80’s. Maybe that’s why I don’t get it, because 30 years after the fact dissonance is everywhere. That’s no longer a defining characteristic.

To my ears, Årabrot is just some ballsy, infectious rock and roll with meaty guitars and memorable drumming. Amebix is definitely a touchstone (see “Arrabal’s Dream”), but you can also hear something like Savannah sludge metal circa 2005* (“The Horns of the Devil Grow”), a little black metal (“The Bitter Tears of Könt”), and a whole lot of other things I can’t place. The whole thing has a weird mix of seriousness and irreverence, represented in the remarkable vocals that cover a range of growls as well as nasally clean singing and angry whisper-shouts.

I’ll admit when I’m wrong, and I was wrong to dismiss Årabrot. Årabrot is one of the most purely entertaining records I’ve heard this year.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

* After writing that, I found out Laura Pleasants performs guest vocals on "Arrabal's Dream."

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