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(45:07, Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Afield 10:22 2. Rogue Fossil 4:46 3. Dripping Into Orbit 6:43 4. Steamer 7:40 5. Gravity Seeker 6:37 6. Phantom Oil Slick 9:00 LINEUP: Carl-Michael Eide – vocals; guitars Einar Sjurso – drums, percussion Petter Berntsen – bass With: Baard Vold Ingebrigtsen – backing vocals; synthesizer Marita Igelkjon – backing vocals; percussion; saw Daniel Mongrain – guitars
Prolusion. The Norwegian band VIRUS was formed in 2000 by former members of the black metal band Ved Buens Ende. They released their debut album "Carheart" in 2003, and have since released a new album every four to five years. "Memento Collider" is their fourth full-length studio recording, and was released by the Norwegian label Karisma Records in the early summer of 2016.
Analysis. Virus is a band that has its own unique signature sound, of the kind that I have rarely heard before, and one that is rather difficult to compare to others. The bleak landscapes they explore are taken on with style and elegance, without using any major dramatic effects, yet still manage to be both oppressive and subtly abrasive without resorting to any major anomalies, perhaps apart from a certain fascination for using sickly-sounding reverbs and subtly atonal harmonies. It is a sound produced by the totality of numerous careful details rather than a few dominant ones, and, besides being fairly unique, it is also a sound and a mood throughout that invoke a strong feeling of uneasiness. The band opts to use plucked guitar details partially alternating with dampened riffs, but the former appears to be more dominant, as the latter often has more of a supporting role, especially when the riffs are dampened rather than loud and aggressive. A busy wandering bass line and effective drum patterns underscore in a manner that creates a feeling of haste and possibly a bit of angst as well, but not in any overt manner. It is the combination of these, coming across, perhaps, as Voivod opting for more of a country-oriented sound with a subtle addition of garage rock and sick rockabilly of the kind The Cramps explored back in the day, but much quirkier and more oppressive than this description might indicate. It is dark, bleak and oppressive music, even when the instruments use fairly light tones, sickly and ghostly sounds that are firm and twisted, but also smoothly wandering along, at times with something of a jazzy feel, to the bass in particular. The lead vocals are as central to produce the constant feeling of uneasiness as anything else, one more piece of this puzzle, with the flat, statement-like spoken vocals with occasional surges into more of a regular singing style, yet maintaining a distanced, cold and unemotional delivery at just about all points – charming and alluring, but in a manner that reeks of sulfur rather than roses. But as much as one can describe the less than light aspects of this album, this is a rock album rather than a metal one. If progressive, experimental or avant-garde is the most appropriate term to use beside rock will probably be a subjective position, but, what I suspect, most will agree to it that this is an unconventional creation and a fairly striking one at that. Perhaps not a purebred piece of perfect dark brilliance, although that will also be a question of individual taste, obviously, but at their very best, these guys do make rock music of the kind that the devil might envy them, charmingly dark, alluringly bleak and inviting in a goosebumps-inducing manner.
Conclusion. The fourth studio album by the Norwegian band Virus is a creative and rather original production, a dark, bleak and striking piece of oppressive yet alluring and mesmerizing progressive rock. A firm taste and established fascination for themes and music of a darker nature will most likely be required to be able to get the music explored here, and those who recognize themselves in such a description are advised to give this one a spin.
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