ÅRABROT – Who Do You Love
Årabrot is a noise-rock/alternative project created by Kjetil Nernes (songwriter, guitar and vocals) and Vidar Evensen (drums and visuals) in 2001. In 2013, the latter left and Årabrot continued as a one man band until recent addition of Stian Skagen (Electronics). Musically, the band cite Death in June, Melvins, Lee Hazlewood, The Birthday Party and Swans as their main sources of inspiration, but heavy The Smashing Pumpkins (Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness), Depeche Mode (Songs Of Faith And Devotion), Nine Inch Nails (The Downward Spiral), Marilyn Manson (Antichrist Superstar), David Bowie and Talking Heads influence is palpable throughout this ninth full length "Who Do You Love".
Arabrot’s lyricism includes macabre renditions of classic works like the Bible and Dante’s Inferno and philosophical themes such as existentialism of Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre; the surrealism of Georges Bataille and Comte de Lautréamont; the eroticism of Henry Miller and Marquis de Sade; the romantic writings of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Edgar Allan Poe and Thomas de Quincey; mystic thinkers such as Aleister Crowley and Jorge Luis Borges, oppositionals like Federico García Lorca and the Norwegian contrarian Jens Bjørneboe. These sophisticated lyrics Kjetil Nernes deliverse in highly diverse vocalization which is just as Billy Corgan (The Smashing Pumpkins) as John Joseph "Rotten" Lydon, (Sex Pistols) or David Bowie with David Byrne (Talking Heads) or Trent Raznor (Nine Inch Nails) with Marilyn Manson, or even borderline Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride).
As was the case with Depeche Mode’s "Songs Of Faith And Devotion" the album seems to be fixed upon two pillars which are the strongest tracks on the record: "The Dome" and "Sinnerman". "The Dome" is heavily industrialized Marilyn Manson with excellent Depeche Mode keyboard melody and superbly varied vocals, and the Gospel-inspired "Sinnerman" prefaced by Mark 16:17-18 "And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and will recover" (ESV), the excerpt some Bible scholars now recognize as a possible fraudulent scribal addition to the text, is glorious both lyrically and musically, Ulver-like, citing Depeche Mode, with particularly spectacular vocals "I went to the Rock…don’t you see me praying…to the Lord, he said go to the Devil…I ran to the Devil, he was waiting", a highly dramatic piece with distinct evocative bass and drums.
The rest of the album is thus centered around either "The Dome" or "Sinnerman" like Gru’s minions, one pillar thus mirroring the other in curious pattern, such as the emotional atmospheric keyboards with only female vocal in the "Judas" – like Depeche Mode-ian "Pygmalion" dripping off cynicism against "the sin of loving you", "love like a black hole", , reprised again toward the end with "Sons And Daughters", Nernes joining the lady, or the punkish "Warning" mirroring "Look Daggers" recalling Korn off "Follow The Leader", or Tool’s "The Eyer Von Satan", a minimalistic piece with almost sludgy guitars, and finally the closing "Uniform Of A Killer" picks up just where the opener "Maldoror’s Love" leaves off simultaneously becoming its preface, overall, pieces trading each other’s phrases and bridging dual ideas.
Surprisingly poignant, coherent and memorable, in spite of my usual aversion to noise rock "Who Do You Love" engages full throttle, far from a chaotic endeavor, revealing itself to be meticulously and painstakingly constructed to present the bipolarity and the different shades of love, Kjetil Nernes rivaling Adam Wilder (ex-Depeche Mode, Recoil) in synth and keyboard talent and imagination. I would have liked, though, more explosive numbers beside those two pillars as some songs seem underwhelming, only partially excused by the mirroring concept I describe above.
If you appreciate the magic, variety and conceptual atmosphere of works such as The Smashing Pumpkins’ "Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness", Nine Inch Nails’ "The Downward Spiral", Marilyn Manson’s "Antichrist Superstar" or Depeche Mode’s "(Songs Of Faith And Devotion", and you don’t mind noise in your rock or the fact that this music has as much to do with metal as Hillary Clinton with genuine human emotion you should give these guys a spin.