Review from Lunar Hypnosis Webzine

Posted by Nick Skog on Friday, October 19, 2012 Under: Album reviews
From: Lunar Hypnosis Webzine
Published: October 17, 2012
Original Link

Netra, the solo project of one, Steven Le Moan from Brittany, France surprised me in a big way back in 2010 through his debut album, 'Mélancolie Urbaine.' Essentially combining trip hop with portions of depressive black metal, it was a unique and memorable release, which sounds odd in writing, but somehow the formula worked quite well. Named after a neighborhood in Gjøvik, Norway where Steven recently lived, 'Sørbyen' builds upon the foundations of the debut while expanding in all areas and introducing more genre defying innovations and experimentation while being utterly catchy and interesting the whole way through.

'A Dance with the Asphalt' opens with the faint sounds of wind in the distance when soft electronics, a piano playing a very jazzy sort of melody and almost lounge-ish vocals greet the listener, but soon enough it all fades away in favor of a menacing though head bobbing riff and a tremendous scream followed by some sampled voice in French for the next few minutes, when by the end some piano and electronics again make their appearance to close out the song. 'Crawling' forgoes all metal in favor of a somewhat straightforward trip-hop sound that's darkly themed, though amazingly catchy, especially during the chorus that always manages to get stuck in my head after listening, while 'Soerbyen' is an instrumental piece made up of a melancholy synth melody with underlining beats that's highly atmospheric and engaging. 'A Kill for a Hug' happens to be an example where the trip hop and black metal elements are blended rather well and work wonderfully together, where as on 'Streetlamp Obsession' the blueprint is similar, but the mood, flow and overall character is different with quite a gloomy and mysterious atmosphere and even a guitar solo mid-way through.

'Emlazh' really hits hard with the depressing characteristics, sort of Silent Hill-ish in its style, while 'Wish She Could Vanish' has a sense of catchiness, but a hellish black metal ending to it that once again unfolds completely different from the previous songs. The remaining five songs all offer up something slightly different, which makes the album a truly challenging and diverse recording to tackle, but that's just one of the aspects that make it so grand. 

The black metal characteristics and metal in general are sort of toned down on this release, but it has a very similarly dark brooding atmosphere as many depressive black metal bands, even though during most of these moments the music is within the trip-hop/electronic style and the metal moments sort of offer up a more energetic vibe when they appear. Also besides a few screams almost all the vocals are performed in a cleanly sung or whispered manner, though 'Concrete Ocean' offers up some Burzum-ish howls during its blacker moments.

'Sørbyen' isn't going to feel familiar to anyone, because frankly I don't think anyone has ever made a release just like this before. It might be a bit much as its just a little over seventy minutes, but there are some truly brilliant ideas and songs to be had here, and if you simply crave serious diversity and an uncanny darkened and uncomfortable vibe you really can't go wrong with this one.

Reviewed by: Joe Mlodik

In : Album reviews 

Tags: netra sorbyen sørbyen trip-hop black metal alternative hooverphonic burzum ulver bohren melancolie urbaine 

                       NETRA - SØRBYEN 

Released: September 29, 2012
1000 Copies
Alternative Black Metal/Trip-hop