Norwegian metallers Årabrot have scores to settle. Taking their name from their local garbage disposal – next to which the authorities saw fit to establish a school for troubled youths – track titles such as ‘The Wretched Child’, ‘Interim Me’ and ‘The Dolorous Years’ make the target of Revenge's vengeance seem uncomfortably plain.
As the taut, predatory opener ‘The Most Sophisticated Form Of Revenge’ gives way to the nightmarish guitar and harsh sonics of ‘Interim Me’, it’s clear that Årabrot are a band full of ideas. ‘The Dolorous Years’ may begin unconvincingly, but frontman Kjetil Nernes’ seething and wailing gives way to a lengthy guitar barrage which becomes aggressively persuasive by virtue of its sheer power and intensity. Album highlight, though, is ‘The Wretched Child’, which has Nernes fair shredding his larynx amidst a engrossing, muscular workout that somehow manages to combine a dead-eyed focus with a knowing sense of the melodramatic.
Indeed, even at their most straightforward, Årabrot are restlessly creative. ‘End Of First Chant I’ is in and out within 90 seconds, but is immensely gratifying both viscerally and cerebrally. And even when the band’s experiments fail to hit home, they’re still hugely admirable. ‘The Primrose Path’ might make for an anticlimactic conclusion to the album, but it’s deliberately so – an incredibly clever and courageous closing statement.
Revenge is a truly special record, and one that deserves to permeate beyond the confines of the metal community. It’s a powerful, cathartic, intelligent, ambitious, surprising album, which has its makers taking a sledgehammer to the limits of both the metal genre and of their own compositional craft – as well as going some way to burying the ghosts of their troubled past.
8Dan Cooper-Gavin's Score