Norse
All is Mist and Fog

Back in 2010, the self-released debut from Australia’s Norse took me completely by surprise and ended up being on my year end list. It was a blistering, feverishly good example of black/death metal that was befitting the album name.

Well the follow up was released late last year, but it only found its way into my hands recently due to a recent distribution/promotion deal, which was a very pleasant surprise. But I should warn fans of Hellstorm– you are going to be either completely taken aback in stunned surprise, let down or both as Norse have take a page from Necrovation‘s book and morphed their previous vicious, direct style into something more progressive, challenging and for me- disappointing.

The shift that Norse have taken sees the duo delve into much more complex, convoluted and experimental pastures. Sounding like a mix of synthless  Scholomance, Jute Gyte, Sculptured and Dillinger Escape Plan , (trust me, its not a good as it sounds on paper), Norse‘s sound is atonal, choppy, stuttering and overly technical. While still black metal with its brittle, distorted guitar tone and raspy vocals, the overall sound is a jarring, shrill, staccato mess of squeals and squawks, with little or no structure and certainly little of the blunt force salvo of Hellstorm.

Of course, as with Necrovation‘s last effort the result is in the eye of the beholder, and many may hail All is Mist and Fog as a brilliant, brave move. But others, including myself will see an all too bold move that will alienate fans of Hellstorm and black metal. There’s no doubt the remaining duo of Treelo (guitars, vocals, lyrics) and Frog (drums) have a ton of skill and ambition, but this isn’t the platform for it. Quite simply go to opener “Neglect”, “Towards the Shining Sky, start of “Magus” (which actually ends up delivering a nifty layered melody later on) or mechanical closer “Gravel” and tell me those riffs aren’t a least a little bit grating?  And it’s not good discordant or atonal like Deathspell Omega or Blut Aus Nord‘s mid era work- this just seems, like a jagged cacophony that’s  random and spurty rather than cohesively dissonant. Here and there a few short lived bursts of more settled but seething, pure blackened death such as the bridge in the aforementioned “Magus”, “Worn and Grey” or “Concrete Wastes”, or even a nice piano bridge in “Plaguewhore” but it rarely lasts  and  for the most part the album sputters and lurches with an uncomfortable gait that saps any blistering blackened energy from the music.

I fully understand the band didn’t write this album for me , or maybe even for fans of Hellstorm, as I’m sure All Mist and Fog is a deeply personal labor of love for the duo (it’s rumored Hellstorm took 18 months to record), but as a listener , and as a fan of the band’ prior work, this sounds Norse, misty or foggy and this album misses the mark thought I’m sure some will feel much differently.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
March 25th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: LongDeadGod

    Anytime Scholomance is mentioned forces me to check out a band.


  2. Commented by: Blake Solomon

    Hi Erik. I remember based on your recommendation (and reference to the great Aussie black/death band Astriaal) I went out of my way to contact the band via e-mail in order to purchase their first album Hellstorm several years ago. Let’s just say it was worth the effort and money. Given that I trust you so much and we seem to have similar music tastes, I don’t think I’ll be looking into this one. But who knows…I might look for some MP3’s online and then decide.


  3. Commented by: gabaghoul

    Astriaal is fucking great. I will listen to this but if it’s too choppy and stuttery it likely will not hold my interest.


  4. Commented by: Dimaension X

    You can find the album for free download over at Bandcamp, folks. Give it a try. I’ve certainly heard choppier albums that try to hard to be “avant garde” for all the wrong reasons.

    It’s a good album. Not brilliant or a masterpiece, but certainly worth a listen, and it might even grow on you the more you listen.


  5. Commented by: krustster

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooo!!!


  6. Commented by: krustster

    I haven’t listened yet. But I saw the band and album and I said “OOOOH NEW NORSE TAPE” out loud and then I saw the disclaimer about it being different and now I’m heartbroken.


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