One of the advantages of having only two members of a band is that shit tends to get done. Look at Darkthrone and their intimidating productivity. The same is also true of Norwegian noise rock miscreants Årabrot who have just dropped yet another jam for us to get fast and loose to. However, fans expecting a re-tread of the coruscating Big Black esque workouts of previous recording “Solar Anus” may find themselves scratching their unwashed heads when confronted with “Mæsscr”, a six song meditation on human evil delivered through the medium of ambient tones and unexpected cover versions.
‘The Baron’, the first of two original songs commences proceedings in a completely unexpected manner with its sparse, jangling chords creating a tense atmosphere, only heightened by the slightly pompous intonations and nasal crooning of vocalist Kjetil Nernes. A wall of feedback builds in the background and you sense that this is going to be an uneasy ride, with the duo in uncharted territory and at the mercy of their own lust for experimentation. This is followed by the queasy drone of ‘Solaranus Excerpt’ which comes across like a Current 93 rehearsal gone horribly wrong.
Things return to more familiar ground with ‘The Honour of Silence’, a strong Death in June cover that shows Nernes doing his best Douglas P impression over the buzzing, repetitive riffs and gothic keys. The overarching theme of sadness and desolation is brought to the forefront here in all its cathartic splendour and makes you wonder just what other bands could achieve in exploring forms of music one wouldn’t normally associate them with. Another cover, ‘Poor Man’ by Lee Hazelwood builds from its stripped down beginning of bereft piano notes to become a hymn of wretchedness with its stark drum hits and buzzing synths as Nernes intones “I’m just a poor man with a heart full of love” over and over again, and what could be sadder than that? Possibly only a future where Årabrot decide to stop taking risks like this challenging and engaging release.