09 Feb 2022 - Simon
post metal sludge metal | Vinter Records | Release date: 18 Feb 2022
The debut album by Norna comes roaring out of the deepest recesses of the earth to delightfully pummel you into a new way of thinking
Owing much to the harrowing and surreal times we still find ourselves in, we have had some truly crushing music to come out recently which cannot help but reflect the sign of the times we find ourselves in, LLNN instantly spring to mind. The debut release by Swedish/Swiss outfit Norna containing heavy music royalty Tomas Liljedahl (Breach, The Old Wind) together with Christophe Macquat and Marc Theutillat (both known for Ølten) instantly catapults itself into the hallowed echelons of bands who express the despair of living through a pandemic with almost surgical precision.
If you know anything about the members’ other bands then you know the kind of music to expect. To be honest, it really can’t sound like anything else when you have Tomas’ anguished howls exploding from your speakers. I have thought long and hard about how best to explain what the album feels like to me and the closest I can come up with is ‘inevitability’. It feels like the cold bony spectral hand of time itself tapping you on the shoulder letting you know your time is up; it’s the sound of erosion, that feeling of utter despair when all around you everything is crumbling away into a sea of malaise.
If that sounds a bit too ominous for you then let me sweeten the deal by saying that it isn’t all doom and gloom. There are glimmers of hope, those glorious first rays of sunshine through the clouds after it’s been raining for 2 days straight. These lighter hopeful moments are littering all through the album and serve to pull you back from the brink. For example, there is a moment during the album opener “The Truther” when all it takes is a chord change halfway through the song and this seemingly simple act lifts you up and carries you away into the atmosphere just when you need it to.
Admittedly, most of the album is punishing and uncomfortable, but not in a bad way, it’s so utterly, magnificently heavy and pummelling that if you let yourself sink under its weight and succumb to its intentions you can almost entirely forget about the outside world and let the music take you on an internal journey of self-examination.
What Norna have crafted with this album is something which is almost transcendental. Much like the LLNN album released recently, the music almost becomes secondary to how all that rumbling low end makes you feel, it makes you feel glad to be alive, it makes you want to scream at the sky for the injustices of the world and to make a stand for what you believe in. If you fully give in to this truly brilliant album, it really does feel like a cathartic experience and one which you will definitely not regret taking.