19 August 2013
by David Keevill
For a reluctant office-worker stuck on life’s treadmill, suffering from an almost complete apathy towards anything in his day-to-day routine, Årabrot will be a hard sell. Social lives consisting of little more than evenings spent slouched in a Sam Smith’s pub and a once-a-week visit to Nandos seem a little out of touch with Årabrot, who recently returned to society having withdrawn to an abandoned church in Sweden to play “mind games with the devil” and formulate ideas for their sixth, self-titled studio album.
You see, Årabrot doesn’t just sonically call upon the droning, minimalist principles of major influencer Swans, it also clouts you with the weight of its pseudo-Christian ideologies and surrealist philosophies, making it about as distant from a Friday night unashamedly sharking women in a grotty suburban nightclub as physically possible.
Much like Swans’ 2012 opus The Seer, Årabrot uses a stripped down sound to build massive, clattering walls of music, but unlike Gira and co., the Norwegians funnel this discord into three to four minutes of cacophony via the basic, hammering principles of punk. The lazily assigned “noise-rock” tag is a way for genre-haggling twerps to make sense of Årabrot’s inconsiderate display of sonic sadism; it ultimately means nothing if you’re not willing to let the two-piece drag your ears through overflowing gutters of lethargic riffs and vocals of barely interpretable ire.
Årabrot is completed by a mix of stoner principles (Kylesa’s Laura Pleasants takes a turn on ‘Arrabal’s Dream’), monolithic riffs powering tracks with a propensity towards earworm status (‘Blood On the Poet’) and hardcore guitar lines designed to flummox and disorientate (‘Dedication’). Constantly unaware of your footing, the album confounds even more by the sheer fact that at the root of it are two-men, who through the simplest of means, make the most disgusting and irresistible of noises. This is compounded by a production job that does justice to the cracked and addled minds of Kjetil Nernes and Vidar Evensen, allowing nothing but the slightest hint of sanity to glint within the otherwise churning mire of their music.
Listen to ‘Blood on Bunny’ by Årabrot:
In a society when even the most horrifying of circumstances becomes the mundane and warrants little more than frustration (“Someone under the train”), Årabrot remain a disturbing and alien proposition. In exiling himself to a former bastion of piety, Nernes learned there were worse things than taunting the devil; Årabrot is a summary of those findings, and it’s pushed the band towards a darkness and extremity that not even Our Saviour’s antithesis will touch.
Sounds Like: The immersive experimentalism of Swans and the black humour and weighty riffs of Wet Nuns. Bleak, evil experimentalism.
Top Tracks: Blood On the Poet, The Bitter Tears Of Könt, Throwing Rocks At the Devil.