I have a confession to make. I love Arabrot. I love their energy. I love the fact that every song sounds like the Melvins beating Sonic Youth to death with a stack of unsold Mclusky CDs. I love the massive production that they have somehow garnered that makes every song drill straight into your cranium and I love the fact that a band can create this level of excitement in me when I’ve heard so many awesome releases over the last year.
There. I’ve said it.
Now I feel better.
But oh God, Arabrot are horrible. They play nasty, dirty, bile-streaked rock music shot through with feedback and barely recognisable vocals. They don’t adhere to any sort of pattern, slamming out 2 minute shots of pure black one second and lengthy atmospheric jams that sound like Hawkwind being painfully molested by a thousand clones of Neurosis the next. They slam you into the concrete and drive their hobnailed boots into your upturned, bleeding face. In short – don’t meet them at night. Or ever. Anywhere. ‘The most sophisticated form of revenge’ is the perfect opening in this respect. Pounding drums that recall Dale Crover and his mob interact with squally guitars and vocals that sound like singer Kjetil Nernes is literally ripping his throat lining out piece by piece in an effort to underscore the immense hatred he feels for everything – and maybe he is, this is after all the band who continued to tour even after he’d blown a lung. This is rock as it’s meant to sound – elemental, ferocious and entirely untamed which might explain why ‘interim me’ opens with the sound of a spontaneous mental breakdown suffered by the band as a collective unit while the guitars fizz and roar over the top of the unholy mess. Meanwhile the drums are almost tribal recalling Neurosis from the seminal ‘through silver in blood’ reissue and you just want to play this album over and over for ever (except you may not be allowed into work…)
‘The wretched child’ is the third track and with a Swans-esque title, it actually incorporates some areas of that band’s early, epilepsy –inducing work before, astonishingly, becoming even more violent. None of this, of course, prepares you for the 12 minute ‘the Dolorous years’ which is either the best thing ever or a nausea-inducing endurance test depending on who your are. Literally the aural equivalent of a cheese grater, ambient elements collide with the sound of a band whose practice sessions have turned into a group bloodletting while the close sees a lone trumpet somewhat implausibly playing jazz in the distant background just in case you had any further doubts about the band’s sanity. ‘Murder’, meanwhile rapes your ears with all the ferocity of an untamed beast, red of claw and savage as hell while Kjetil screams ‘die’ over and over again at some unseen but mortal foe. ‘End of first chant I’ is unfeasibly nasty – a vicious knife-fight filled with blood and screams takes over your speakers in an astonishing display of musicianship. Breaking up this heavy, nasty little gem and its sequel is the sludgy ‘the pilgramage’ which is a personal favourite thanks to a none-more-brutal chugging riff and an astonishing vocal performance the like of which you’ll never hear anywhere else – Kjetil is that rare commodity, a genuinely unique front man with a throat made of steel – this is inspiring stuff. ‘End of first chant II’ by contrast sounds like the dead Kennedy placed in a blender and whisked into an altogether darker place although nowhere near as dark as the hulking album closer.
Deeply disturbing and utterly without pity, ‘the primrose path’ deserves its own paragraph by being thirteen minutes of paranoid, sludgy hatred laid bare for all to see. Overlaid with a throbbing, distorted bass and with a vocal that seethes with animosity, I can guarantee you will not hear anything this raw, this uncompromising or this damn good anywhere else this year. A slow builder, it stands in direct contrast to the ferocious assault that makes up the rest of the album and musically it sits somewhere between grind, Dillinger escape plan’s ‘phone home’ and the soundtrack to ‘the thing’. “do not trust me after the initial thrill…” growls Kjetil and the threat in his voice sends shivers down the spine. This is the real deal – emotionally honest and so raw you can practically feel the maggots squirming in the recently defiled flesh – Arabrot are just amazing.
How Arabrot top this is hard to fathom. While ‘the brother seed’ was an astonishing work, this tops it in every conceivable way. The song writing is better, the production top-notch and the track list simply perfect with not a drop of waste and every song perfectly placed to engage the listener with maximum force. Absolutely original and totally without peer this is the most thrilling, exciting, dirty album you’ll ever hear and if you have any love at all for uncompromising, heavy music then you need this more than any of the mainstream metal bands that the press get excited about. This is just astounding. Buy it, and buy it now… or they will find you.