Norse – Ascetic (2021) – Review

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I don’t know, is it the change of the season? Grey, cold, wet weather descends on a landscape that was vibrant and full of life earlier. Everything seems to be smothered in shades of grey to the point of depression. And this calls for a record that is equally bleak and grey, as RMR’s surroundings start to be. Something that talks to the howling soul inside, the one that seeks but doesn’t find that reprieve anymore, in a world of monochromatic colors.

Thus, Norse‘s new album Ascetic just felt like the remedy we were looking for. A piece of dissonance that should show us the way out of the mists of tribulation that seem to smother our lives lately.

It’s indeed a long time that RMR covered a truly frightening dissonant piece that made our blood run cold after a while. And we wonder how Norse‘s new album will shape up under this specific type of microscope.

Already the bleak cover art with those nightmare trees and the stylized yellow logo sitting in the middle like a spider will give you a hint of what’s to come. This already looks like that migraine the 41,5 minutes or so of dissonant horrors will surely deliver. Delicious torments for the unsuspecting, right?

Well, first and foremost, Ascetic here truly thrives on endless burly drum rhythms that steadily spew out of our music machine. All that comes with the terrible bass’ fat roar that will not cease throughout the record. The guitars wheeze and whine left and right best they can. And the ebb and flow of frugal crazed ditties move from ambient and thoughtful to acoustic bits and pieces into sudden mayhem at no moment’s notice.

Yet, the often excellent throaty vocals really take front center in the mix. And that’s exactly where they should be. Interestingly, Norse won’t try to beat you to death with a friggin’ mountain of monotonous Black Metal croaks, as some others tried to do so hard. Instead, you get a lusty selection of rasps, howled clears, whispered horrors, and – yes – monologues that for once are not cringeworthy like hell. Nor do they lust after cheese, as many of them do on other records.

At first, the RMR deckhands kinda wondered where all this dissonant goodness would lead us. Whilst unbearably evil for some already, we kinda missed the action. Yet, the gravelly voice of terror started to heat up some once Fearless Filth Seeker hit the turntable. And the moment that Accelerated Subersion‘s fearsome blastbeats hit, with its angry growls, the full-on bass attack, and the guitars in full dissonant disarray, things started to look more lively. This is one excellent track that made us think of desolate concrete ruins. Full of monsters and other creatures of the night.

Zero Insight indeed takes all these vile terrors to yet another level. The RMR deck crew truly relished the disturbing melodies oozing our way. Unseen demonic things speaking in tongues, strange noises, and bizarre passages galore. This all started to feel like an abandoned asylum late at night. When the ghosts of mistreated souls roam freely, y’know. And Blight, with its dismembered monologues, truly felt like those blemished deformities were coming out into the open to feed on us measly mortals.

Yet, with all its abundance of ideas and careful arrangement, Ascetic still feels more austere than frightening. And yours truly here somehow missed the evil, the unseen meanness that many stated they found. In other words, that visceral evil terror that sticks to your front lobe like a screechy alarm bell just didn’t go off. So, there – sadly – was no warning of primeval dangers that our mushy civilized minds forgot about long ago.

Yet finally, Norse‘s Ascetic truly chiseled a high-quality piece of blackened dissonance from that dark void whence it springs. A pretty technical piece of Extreme Metal, full of careful sampling, with reasonably malevolent and delightfully disjointed song structures. One that projects bleak emotions, and it does it well.

But yet again, methinks that the band is – for now at least – leaning more into the light still than striding into that terrifying darkness where unholy primeval terrors dwell. And that’s where them Australian boys need to head next, they’re not bad enough yet.

Just sayin’.

Record Rating: 7/10 | LabelTranscending Obscurity Records | Web: Norse Facebook
Release Date: 8 October 2021

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