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Album Of The Month October 2008
Virus | ‘The Black Flux’

Dog masks, aluminium spoons and a Toyota Hiace: three things that made Virus’ ‘Carheart’ an idiosyncratic and brilliant piece of absurd metal that never even had a chance of success back in 2004.

It was just too out there, too different and too much it’s own thing. What would you expect from the founders of Ved Buens Ende and Beyond Dawn’s drummer, after all? I’ll tell you what: nothing less than an essential record.

The follow up, for reasons understood to any follower of Norse goings on, took a little longer than it should have. In spite of his huge talent, Carl-Michael Eide is lucky to be alive, following the fall from a tower block from which he’s now (remarkably) nearly recovered. His time in convalesence however has only increased his stock as one of the underground’s true talents, and we’re lucky he’s not only still around, but writing amazing records like this.

Think back to records like ‘Written In Waters’ and ‘Pity Love’. They were incredible, deft, and with such a sense of what they were about. Virus take a different tack, but that core remains.

This is a record, that like the last, manages to fuse Slint with Voivod; that has the raw guitar tone of Siouxsie Soux and the paranoid vocal delivery of David Byrne; the calamatous jarring chords of Mayhem’s Blasphemer and the natural, blackened musical nous of Sigh, set atop with a voice that sounds at times like vintage Swans.

Ved Buens Ende’s fantastic wandering basslines are retained, while the simple but effective shuffle drumming pushes it all forward on its trainwreck journey. Just check out ‘Archives’ for a pulsating slab of rock and roll, made the more insane by jangling guitars using unheard of chords. ‘As Virulent As You’ could be In The Woods, were they still around to show off, given an added helpig of ’88 SubPop riffing snarl at the midsection. Dont be fooled by the faux disco beat – this is subversion from our side of things.

A record like this is an antidote to the shit on the shelves. Pick it up, champion their demented creativity, and show that you care even slightly for what metal bands can do once they’ve left the building. This mercurial, eccentric album is a complete necessity for both black metal fans of old and post rock fans anew.

Virus have kept the darkness, the introspection and the unsettling psychedelia of the past, and come of age. It’s accessible yet so far off the beaten track as to be warranted ‘cult’ – that much overused and often meaningless flag of convenience. This however is the real deal.

‘The Black Flux’ also garners Metalireland’s much coveted yet rarely granted Earl Grey award: an accolade bestowed only to such albums as required by nights when the great man’s Silver Phantom is leaking oil onto the avenue gravel, demanding a return to books and intrigues, where the Black Flux of a hot bergamot infusion can be watched and noted.

5/5 – Earl Grey ::: 08/10/08

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