Norse is an Australian band which arose in 2006. Since then, they have constantly been pushing the boundaries of the black metal genre, even to the point where it becomes hard to recommend it to black metal fans. However, that is exactly what I'm going to do. This album is so ugly, so intense and so dissonant that only the blackest of souls will know what to make of this. Perhaps it's even safe to call this 'blackened noise rock'.
'Encoded Weakness' opens this album with dissonant, noisy guitars and it doesn't take long before the blast-beats and drums appear. At first listen, it's somewhat of a shock because Norse seems to tear the whole genre inside-out, only to end up with vicious noise rock. 'Disarmed, Toothless, Weak' repeats that recipe, perhaps in a more convincing manner than the opening track could.
Norse is moving ever further away from black metal but they certainly drag the foundations along with them. Title track 'Pest' could be a classic depressive black metal song. It's harsh and bleak enough to belong to the genre. Yet, elements from hardcore punk, sludge and noise rock twist the sound into a fierce stranglehold of sonic punishment. Play this loud and your neighbours might emigrate.
It's hard to comprehend what Norse really tries to reach with this album. Are they still loyal to the blackened scene or do they take extreme music to new levels? Just listen to the sheer ferocity of 'True Insignificance' or 'Aimless' and you might wonder the same. Fact remains, it is a stunning example of renewing and unique extreme metal which is quite impossible to compare to anything, except maybe Rotting Christ meets Arab On Radar or Lightning Bolt meets Sigh.
My advice? Well, check it out, extreme music rarely gets as relentless and unforgiving as this one. If you are into anything obscure and deeply haunting, you should not miss out on this one. However, be warned, this album might make you go either completely insane or utterly hopeless. This certainly is not for the untrained ear...