It doesn’t seem that long ago that I reviewed the last Norselaw album, but I was a bit behind the times as I was reviewing their 2012 album, MOON HUNTERS in early 2013. So here we are just a few months later and the world has a new Norselaw album to enjoy! In my last review I griped a bit that there was not much info available about the band on-line but the bands site is up and running, so drop by the site, check out a few sonic samples and lay down a few bucks for some of their music.
Norselaw’s third full length is called SERPENT IN THE CIRCLING SEA released independently, of course! It’s a simple but effective package a simple booklet adorned with another Frazetta-like album cover, although I would like some lyrics printed! Once again the production is pretty raw but on purpose, as the band wind their way through another 10 cuts of superb Metal that lasts, but sadly, only 37 minutes.
This power trio have really created something special. SERPENTS OF THE CIRCLING SEA just has this magnificent, raw, underground feel, garage-inspired but not too loose and sloppy like some punk can get. Norselaw have a wonderful mix of the sound and attitude of perhaps an early Goat Horn crossed with unnamed and long-lost some NWOBHM demo and hint of blackened frost. The band is not afraid to inject some melody, such as the second cut ‘Wasteland Wanderer’ are quite catchy without being too sweet. One thing I really like is that Theon Greyjoy has that really fuzzed out bass tone that Cliff Burton used to capture, check out the brief instrumental spot on ‘Green Laser’ before the song takes off into the next speedy cut. It is actually Norselaw (the guitarist and founder) on the bass solo spot, but the point remains, the bass has that vintage sound.
The vocals range from aggressive screams to a more laid-back stoner/groove type delivery and all the variety of vocal tones suit the pace and tempo of the songs. I even hear a bit of a Oderus type roar scattered among tunes like, ‘Fungi From Yuggoth’, one of the Metal-est songs I’ve heard this year. Vocally, you can hear Doom, Death and Black metal delivery sometimes all in the same song! The lyrics are full-on ‘Metal’ with tales of adventure that could be right out of some old 30’s fantasy pulp paperback written by Robert E. Howard. The music changes tempos, tone and pace quite often in the same song but without getting schizophrenic to the point of distraction. The band have taken a bubbling cauldron of raw ideas, Black, Sludge, Stoner, Doom, Punk, and simmered it all into the glorious mess that on paper should not work, but somehow does.
SERPENTS IN THE CRICLING SEA is a challenging listen, no doubt but extremely worth the journey. Innovation and being unique, without just getting weird for the sake of being weird, is a very rare commodity in Metal and somehow NORSELAW has really created some adventurous, Metal for those brave enough to listen.
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