Posted by Nick Skog on Saturday, March 15, 2014 Under: Album reviews
From: Volumes of Sin Webzine
Published: March 15, 2014
Netra came from France but has moved to Norway sometime between the 2003 formation of his self-titled side project and now. His debut full-length album, Mélancolie Urbaine, caught some attention upon it's release in 2010 with the unheard of entwinement of depressive black metal with trip-hop features, but overall the record didn't cause a big of a stir in the underground as one may expect. A couple years later and Netra unleashed his follow up album, Sørbyen, via Hypnotic Dirge Records, the same label that his debut was issued under. Is Netra still attempting to push the boundaries of black metal or is this album something different entirely?
I'll be honest and say that I pushed this one back; way, way, way back. I was recently lucky enough to partner with Hypnotic Dirge Records and receive a generous physical promotional package (thank you!). As I was rifling through the CDs this one stuck out like the metaphorical sore thumb and my sleep laden mind wondered if it had been sent to me by mistake. A deeper look into the artist would unveil the genre concoctions this album consists of and needless to say it ended up on the bottom of the pile until I decided that today was the day I'd throw back my medicine like a big boy. You're probably asking yourself why I'm bothering with this introduction piece, well as I've said in past reviews bands, albums and art in general shouldn't be judged by their appearance and this is something that I personally keep doing. This album is a firm reminder that not all metal has to come with grim, dark, morbid artwork or be comprised of the standard cut and paste genre meshes. I almost wish that I'd thrown this CD in before all the others.
Netra's first album found the material edging on the the brink of something ground breaking, however it held off with understandable reluctance and merely tested the waters of combining two genre foes. Sørbyen has set out to go all in by interlocking electronica, trip-hop and atmospheric black metal elements together in a way that actually works. Of course this type of material isn't going to appeal to everyone, but it's an incredibly brave endeavor on the artist's part considering that the tougher crowds such as purists and elitists in the black metal community will scorn this album as an utter blasphemy to all the genre stands for.
The experience that Sørbyen provides is rather extraterrestrial in that it's completely foreign to anything that the metal loving, or perhaps even the trip-hop loving, audience has heard before. Senses become overwhelmed at the outstanding compositions and the brain seems to relax into a sleepy lull from the mellow grooves that some of the more electronic inspired songs have to offer. Where some tracks such as "Crawling" and "I Shall Slay the Monkey" are on the slower, darker side, others like "A Dance with the Asphalt" and "Kill for a Hug" combine both metal and electronic ingredients as they offer upbeat tempos with shrill black metal howls, spoken words, clean singing, high treble guitars, blast beat and double bass drumming; these two latter tracks are the ultimate testament at how successful the joining of the two dominate genres proves to be. The instrumental title track, "My Ill-Posed Life" and a variety of other instrumental only songs are composures that displays the aforesaid features without the need for vocals while adeptly showcasing the artist's ability to utilize both genres, bringing names such as Portishead and Nine Inch Nails to mind.
The material is laden in unexpected twists and turns, with some of the content being easy going while latter songs like "It's Kicking In", "Concrete Ocean", "Strange Bliss at Dusk" and "I Shall Slay the Monkeys" are brooding epic deranged soundtracks. There's a long and applaudable guitar solo found in "Streetlamp Obsession" that's followed up by placid bass solo. It's hard to put into words exactly how well the turn out of this content is, the synthesizers and natural elements blend seamlessly together to create one giant, unique atmosphere that has yet to be discovered by the majority of man. Hell, Netra even throws in some raw black metal in "I Shall Slay the Monkeys" where as the rest of the album is glossed in a rather high quality sheen.
It's indeed difficult to describe, but it works. Netra has achieved something incredibly profound with Sørbyen and he should be proud of his accomplishment of creating an entirely new structure in an all too cookie cutter genre. A little more rawness every now and then would push the material further, even when it comes to the trip-hop spectrum, and a few more uptempo tracks in the midst of the album would've helped shatter the way too relaxed mindset that the listener takes on. The content also feels a little heavy on the electronic side, a minuscule and subtle use of more natural elements would give the perfect amount of metal that the album is missing. It's really a must hear for yourself, words cannot describe this type of material adequately enough to do it justice.
Reviewed by: Villi Thorne
In : Album reviews
Tags: netra sorbyen melancolie urbaine alternative electronic black metal trip-hop experimental