Norwegian Gothic captures the magic of the rock metal genre.
If people are looking to jam out to some Norwegian rock, look no further than Årabrot’s newest album Norwegian Gothic. The noise rock band has been around since the early 2000s, not once shying away from the intensity that rock and metal music rely on. Each song is the perfect cocktail of all the band members’ voices, with the standout being Karin Park, whose hauntingly beautiful voice somehow still manages to stand out amongst all the sludge. Norwegian Gothic is dark, grueling and raw, with lyrics that explore stories of isolation, death and the depths of both pleasure and sadness.
The album starts with “Carnival of Love,” where lead singer and guitarist Kjetil Nernes moans emotionally before building up into a typical metal scream throughout the song. Park also adds a lighter version of her signature voice in the chorus, which melts into the electrifying guitar towards the end of the song.
On one of the album’s singles, “The Lie,” about halfway through the song, a synthy beat begins to play, uplifting the song out of the grimy rock beat on which it was built. Kjetil has said that this song is about “living a lie.” He goes on to say that he “spent months reading philosopher Theodore Adorno while writing The Lie.” The song has a great beat and a catchy chorus.
Followed by “The Lie” is “The Crows,” which is a short and fast paced track, unlike the songs that precede it, which tend to be longer with slower beats. Perhaps this difference is meant to better showcase Nernes and his talents—his vocal performance is by far the most memorable part of this track. “Kinks of the Heart,” another single, follows “The Crows.” The fast beat drives the song well, all held together by a very consistent drum beat.
There are three parts of the album that feature recordings of people’s voices, with electronic additions and edits. These all lead into different songs, curating a steampunk vibe. “The Voice” leads right into another standout on the album, “Hallucinational.”
Where Park really shines is the song “Hallucinational,” which appears towards the middle of the album. It totally matches the “gothic” part of the title of the album. It sounds like a lost spirit making its way through an old dilapidated house, wailing (yet hitting all the right notes.) It feels like something out of an Emily Bronte story—truly both dark and beautiful.
“Hard Love” sounds like a classic rock song straight out of the 1980s, bursting with a well-defined drum beat and an exciting synth beat throughout. However, these additions never overpower the Nernes’s all-enveloping spirit of rock. Park does a great job with the chorus, “you pay with hard love.” “Hard Love” is one of the shorter songs on the album as well, leaving the listener wanting more.
Norwegian Gothic creeps its way near the end with “The Moon Is Dead,” the longest, eeriest tune on the album. It couples together a bit of saxophone with the grueling and intense vibes of metal and rock, creating what can only be described as an atmosphere of pure insanity. The saxophone is an incredible touch to the overall experience of the song, along with the creepy electronic sound effects. The vocals are great, but the instrumental on this track is an absolute standout.
Norwegian Gothic is an intriguing nightmare that will haunt any listener. It’s a must listen for any rock lover.