Arabrot’s ninth album, Norwegian Gothic, finds the core duo of guitarit/vocalist/mainman Kjetil Nernes and his wife and co-collaborator Karin Park, exploring new sonic territories. Not that you would expect anything less from them, but this one goes a little farther out past their noise rock roots, while still retaining the grit and muscle of that type of music.
So what does Norwegian Gothic do, that is so different from previous albums? Well, it puts a heavy focus on melody and hooks, making this some of the catchiest, weirdest, loud rock you’re likely to hear all year.
They have been slowly and surely moving toward this point since their 2016 album The Gospel, which saw them trim down the fat and and add more rock to their noise rock. This evolution continued on 2018’s, Who Do You Love, and comes to fruition on this album. The Arabrot of Norwegian Gothic are not the same band that started 20 years ago. They have developed and honed their craft over the years, never settling for creative stagnation. Some my like this, some may not.
I love this. The focus on hooks and melody really mean these songs stick with you long after listening. Granted, they’re still Arabrot songs, so they’re filled with sex, death, arcane philosophy and paganism, but they’re the catchiest songs you’ll hear with this kind of subject matter. Nernes sings more than screams on here, and he also has some sweet harmonies with Park, who is an esteemed solo artist in her own right. (Go look her up.)
Now, they’re wrapping their big ideas, in song structures that will stick in your brain with more ease, and might, gasp, get them radio play on more adventurous rock stations in Europe. (I still believe radio in the United States is a little to close minded for this.) Don’t worry, Nernes’ guitar still has plenty of distortion on it. These songs are three-minute noise rock-goth-pop detonations, with a few forays, into weirder, darker and more experimental pieces.
Norwegian Gothic is Arabrot firing on all cylinders, with a brave new sound, ready to move into the future. It’s easily one of their best albums, and also one of the best loud rock albums of the year. Do not past this one up.
Buy the album here.