"Memento Collider" is the 4th full-length studio album by Norwegian avant garde rock/metal act Virus. The album was released through Karisma Records in June 2016. There´s been one lineup change since the release of "The Agent That Shapes the Desert (2011)", as original bassist Petter "Plenum" Berntsen has returned to the fold, restoring the original three-piece lineup from the band´s debut full-length studio album "Carheart (2003)". Berntsen was out of the band from 2010 to 2014. The remaining members of the lineup are Carl-Michael "Czral" Eide (guitars and vocals) and Einar "Einz" Sjursø (drums). While five years between albums is a pretty long time, Virus did release the "Oblivion Clock" compilation in 2012.
Stylistically the long time between albums haven´t affected the band´s vision and sound too much. We´re still treated to dark and atmospheric, surreal, and twisted avant garde rock/metal. Dissonant open chords, semi-jazzy organic drumming and a heavy bass, and on top the odd and deranged vocals by Carl-Michael "Czral" Eide. While I do write rock/metal above, there are actually very few metal traits in the music, so it´s more in spirit that Virus are connected to the metal scene.
"Memento Collider" features a powerful and organic sounding production, which suits the music perfectly. The material on the 6 track, 45:07 minutes long album is well written, adventurous, and intriguing. Virus have a very unique sound, but as always they´ve made little tweaks here and there, which ensure that "Memento Collider" stands out in their discography. The tracks are generally pretty long ("Afield" and "Phantom Oil Slick" are both around 9 to 10 minutes long), but they never become too drawn out, despite their often hypnotic repetitive nature. There´s a dark organic drive to the compositions which provides them with great energy although the tempo is mostly slow- to mid-paced.
The haunted monotone vocals and abstract gloomy lyrical content contribute greatly to the bleak atmosphere, but the instrumental part of the music is not exactly in the light department either. There are other moods in the music than pitch black darkness though. The occasional nod towards some sort of twisted surf music and what I´d characterize as spy movie soundtrack tendencies on "Gravity Seeker" are examples of that. The percussion on "Phantom Oil Slick" is also a nice touch, which provides that track with a deranged tribal element. It´s not showed down your throat though, because Virus are clever enough to incorporate those elements in a relatively subtle manner, which go along well with their core style.
So upon conclusion this is another high quality release by Virus and fans of the band can safely spend their hard earned money on this one. It´s delightfully familiar without sounding too derivative of past releases, which of course also means that "Memento Collider" probably won´t win over listeners who didn´t enjoy the band´s other releases. I´m sure Virus can live with that though, as they pretty surely don´t play this type of music for commercial reasons (although we all need bread on the table). There´s no mistaking the fact that this is a band who creates exactly this type of music for pure artistic reasons, and while some may find such an elitist attitude towards creating art ridiculous, I think it´s great to experience that there are still artists out there trying to break down the boundaries of convention without the thought of anything else but creating unique sounding music. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.