VIRUS — Carheart (review)

VIRUS — Carheart album cover Album · 2003 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
UMUR
"Carheart" is the debut full-length studio album by Norwegian avant-garde rock/metal act Virus. The album was released through Jester Records in August 2003. Virus is a three-piece consisting of Plenum (bass), Esso (drums), and Czral (guitars, vocals). After Ved Buens Ende disbanded in 1997, Czral got/or already were involved with other projects (Aura Noir, Infernö, Cadaver Inc/Cadaver...etc.), but he still wanted to release something in a similar vein to the dark and abstract avant garde music style of his former band, and thus Virus formed in 2000.

Although there are some similarities to the avantgarde black metal of Ved Buens Ende, Virus is ultimately quite a different sounding beast. There are some metal traits on "Carheart", but it´s mostly in terms of attitude and a few hard edged/heavy riffs and rhythms. The material is predominantly more rock oriented though, but definitely not your average Joe rock´n´roll type music. The atmosphere is strange, dark, and gritty, and the lyrics are abstract and often downright weird. Try and listen to the robotic effect voice singing on "Gum, Meet, Mother", and then try and make sense of the lyrics...now that´s avant-garde oddness for you. Other than a few excursions into experimental vocal territories (as the example mentioned above), the vocals are predominantly deep register, monotone, with an edge of desperation to them. Not completely unlike the vocals of darker new wave vocalists from bands like Bauhaus and Joy Division or maybe even a darker and more demented Nick Cave.

The instrumental part of the music is a pretty unique combination of elements. The guitar riffs are mostly distorted, dissonant, and often use open strings to create atmosphere. The drums are often busy and fusion influenced, and the bass is instrumental in creating the dark and dense mood of the music. Keyboards and effects are used sparsely, but to great effect. The occasional nod towards spy movie/surf music is also heard. It´s hard to mention valid references with music as unique as this, but I think I hear elements from as different sounding artists as Voivod, Talking Heads, 80s King Crimson (and from the above mentioned artists already mentioned earlier).

"Carheart" is a well produced and very well sounding release, and the high level musicianship and the original style of the band´s music do not hurt the album either. This type of music probably falls under the "aquired taste" label, and there are pretty surely some listeners who won´t be able to enjoy the dark gritty avant-garde oddness and the twisted dissonant nature of the music, but to those who are able to enjoy it, "Carheart" is a high quality release and a 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.
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