originally written by Erik Thomas
As if after last year we needed further proof that the Aussies were a force to be reckoned with (witness The Red Shore, Ruins, Brazen Bull, Defamer, Portal, Impetuous Ritual, Be’lakor, Destruktor, Defamer, etc), along comes the debut from Norse, an apparent labor of love that took eighteen months to record. And it’s worth every minute.
Featuring Robin Stone (who has played session and live drums for Auguryand The Amenta, so you know the drumming is top notch), Norse is a searing war/black/death metal beast that instantly reminded me of the firstCouncil of the Fallen (now Order of Ennead) release, as well as reminding me of the likes of Spearhead and Forest of Impaled. Then throw in some razor sharp harmonies and melody akin to the first couple of Epoch of Unlight records, plus a dash of Australian black/death nastiness (Destroyer 666), and you’ve got a record that’s as blistering and slicing yet controlled and epic as anything you might hear in 2010.
These eleven superbly produced tracks all careen from the speakers with imposing intensity and deft melody that sits astride blackened vitriol by way of seething tremolo-picked riff and death metal menace through lumbering lurching moments. The vocals cover both territories, with vicious rasps and deep growls and even a couple of decently done semi-clean croons here and there.
Everything comes together to form a sonic, well….hellstorm that’s unrelenting (“Hellstorm”, “Flesh Abyss”, “Spewing Forth Arachnids”, “Devour the Serpents’ Flame”, “Frozen Deserts of Time”) yet surprisingly melodic at times (“Light of Norse”, “Glory in Death”, “To Find Orion”, excellent closer “War and Her Bastard Sons”), complete with deftly crafted and complex yet vitriolic moments in every song. There’s the obligatory symphonic interlude (“V”) and a slightly Viking-ish tangent in “Father of the Norns,” but there’s nothing in either that detracts from the fury emanating from every note elsewhere.
Find this record, as it puts Norse on par with Astriaal, a band that should definitely also take notice of this Hellstorm.