Virus “Carheart” (2003)

Ved Buens Ende fanatics always knew how much potential Carl-Michael Eide had as an experimental metal composer. Even though he was only credited as being the drummer and vocalist of that band, it’s now clear that he also composed at least half the music. From 1995 to 2001, it seems like he progressively slipped out of the drum duties to concentrate more and more on his beloved guitar, and Carheart was released in 2003 as a result of that continuing tendency. Or was it because he was turning weirder and weirder? We’ll never know. Perhaps less rooted in lamentating Black metal and playing more within eccentric post-rock magickal machineries, the record sounds therefore much more open and free than anything Ved Buens Ende ever came up with. It’s not confined to any style whatsoever. Vicotnik called it Ved Buens Ende’s younger cousin, but I’d say, to keep up with the family analogy, that it’s more like V.B.E. The Great Hermaphrodite had sex with itself and gave birth, in a dirty backyard garage, to its very own congenital, borderline mongoloid descendant. Yeah, it’s that weird, and it certainly also is hashish-friendly. Let me explain you why this is so.

Right after a quite furry introduction, drummer Esso Sjursø and bassman Plenum Berntsen get their well-oiled engine growling deep enough, only to give Czral a contorted space to shine through. As everyone else, I was waiting for the guitars to kick in, and it’s strange how they sound like some sort of murky melting smoky mire. It’s like a cloud over bass and drum canyons. Queen Of The Hi-Ace, which starts off with Czral convincing us that “sirens make the air coagulate”, is perhaps the poppiest song here, as it manages to mix minimalist dissonant notes together with a turned upside down Slayer-ish chorus, only to end up on a repetitive, trancelike rock mantra of some sort. Road is then Yusaf Parvéz laying down one of his most addictively sensual guitar lines in career; in a way, it sounds like driving your car on the ocean’s tides, thus the feeling of being moved over by gravitational attraction of the moon and sun. Furthermore, every song is an undeniable examplification of the fact that Plenum Berntsen must have more than ten fingers at his disposal! This alien mutant is all over the place. Gum Meet Mother, on the other hand, illustrates the intoxicated, groovy post barking dark retro Czralian type of music, which means that it’s equally weirded out rock n’ roll and slow-motion surreal metal. As it reaches its final minutes in full hypnotic fashion, the riffing sounding dustlike as well as slightly retarded, one can’t help but fly up to the stratosphere in awe.

Some people were turned off by the fact that Czral isn’t playing the drums on Carheart, but Esso Sjursø sure is versatile behind his set, and he’s got great style, sometimes downright flamboyant, sometimes strangely down to the basics; anyone into Beyond Dawn couldn’t deny that. I think him and Czral go hand in hand. It’s All Gone Weird has more of a classic Heavy metal feel to it (but don’t ask me why), yet it’s all bent, spiralized and twisted, and the vocals are especially inventive, shifting from one style to the other all the time. Other Carheart jewels include Hustler, a distortion-less building-up climax of tense indie post-rock with Amerindian chants (sung by Øyvind Hægeland), foreign samples and varied tempos, and of course Bandit, a tragicomic amusing tale-ride through the dark world of bandits and cars. As you can tell, the album knows how to surprise you at every turn. I wouldn’t know into what kind of mental state was Czral back then, but the outcome sounds troubled and demented to say the least. The vocals play a big part into the equivocal atmosphere; they’re somewhere in between ostentatious, beautiful, overdriven, pitiful, contemplative and self-derisory. Yeah, there’s lot’s of humour noir thrown in, and that was also one of the new facets to the VBE/Virus saga. Mind you, the few songs I haven’t explored are all as interesting as the ones mentioned in this review.

All in all, it’s deliriously cool how Virus, as only a trio, are able to make their chaos seem really catchy and to the point, whereas it’s kind of confusingly conflictual at its core. Conflictual, I hear you ask? Well, one of the masters of the dissonant, atonal, disharmonic, weirdo post-Voïvodian riffing made his 2003 return with passion and, admitingly, not without a slight spice of creative insanity. With The Black Flux soon coming down on us in November, I felt it was about time to go back to such a classic.


Oliver Side


Release:  2003
Label:  Jester Records
Avantgenre:  Czralian Proto-Post Metal
Duration:  49:01
Origin:  Norway
Official site:
Review online since:  19.09.2008 / 01:54:24


01 – Something Furry This Way Comes
02 – Carheart
03 – Queen of The Hi-Ace
04 – Road
05 – Gum Meet Mother
06 – Dogs With Wheels
07 – It’s All Gone Weird
08 – Kennel Crash Recovery
09 – Hustler
10 – Bandit
11 – Be Elevator

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