Virus – Carheart Review

I’ve come to expect two things from Jester Records. First, Jester albums will never ever come out on time, or even anywhere near the original estimate. Second, they are, without exception, worth the wait. The existence of styles such as post-rock, post-hardcore, post-black metal is a testament to music’s constant progression but lack of creative names for genres. Ved Buens Ende was one of the forerunners of the often apocalyptic, dissonant, and forward thinking post-black metal scene. Their brief career only offered the release of one proper album and a souped up demo passed off as another album. In the near six years between the release of Written in Waters and the debut of their reincarnation as Virus they haven’t been idling. I shudder to think that it’s come to the point where it can honestly be said that there’s a post-post-black metal genre, but that’s essentially what this is. There are aspects of this album that are blatantly black metal, like the dissonance that’s still used so prevalently. These guys are experts at stringing together notes on a guitar that make no sense but the ways they’re set up give not only cool and unusual melodies to the music but set a much different tone than anything I’ve heard often before. Guitar playing is about the only area where Virus is still rooted in black metal to any noticeable degree. The drumming is neither fast nor brutal but instead has a more “garage” style to it; still quite technically proficient, but more focused on being simple and to the point. On bass, Plenum (yes, they still have black metal names) is rarely just plugging along playing the same things the guitar is, and that’s a really good thing. Where there could be nothing special at all, it adds another dimension to the music and is executed just as it should be. Czral’s vocals are sung with dark conviction and a healthy (but not excessive) dose of melodrama. They bring to mind The Talking Heads if the singer had just had a really bad day. Carheart leaves the listen at odds in some ways. It’s a relatively simply put together album; nothing initially seems to be very complex or difficult. The illusion of straightforwardness dissolves with further listens when you get a real sense of all the little things they have going on. There are subtle differences between the first time you’ll hear a part in a song and its reprise later on, and things like that keep you on your toes and make you really pay a lot of attention. This is an album that manages to stay relatively simple but have a lot of depth at the same time. As with the drumming, the overall feel of Carheart is that of a very finely tuned and unique garage band. The instruments aren’t altered much at all; the musicians here know what guitar, bass, and drums are capable of doing and they do those things. A band not relying on technology but still creating something pure and exciting is a breath of fresh air in metal music. Part of not relying on technology means that they don’t want to rely too much on studio effects, and it’s clear that they didn’t. Knowing that, I’d say the production serves its purpose and realizes the vision of the band as much as is possible. Overall, Carheart is a very solid album in all the ways it needs to be. It’s initially captivating and fun to listen to, and it’s aged very well thus far. I don’t see either of those qualities changing any time soon. This goes highly recommended to anyone who thinks the black metal genre is slightly stale and wants something in a similar vein but with exciting new ideas.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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