Norse have always stuck out as being a bit different from your run-of-the-mill black metal. 2014’s Pest was a very enjoyable slab of individualised blackened filth, full of interesting ideas and unusual riffs and structuring. This is continued and refined on The Divine Light of a New Sun.
This is full of unusual rhythms, haunting dissonance and surprisingly-catchy blackened modernism. The songs are very strange, but in a good way; the album sounds like it’s trapped between all eras of black metal, without belonging to any of them. You can firmly hear the old-school influences, but they’re blanketed, warped and mutated by state-of-the-art dissonant violence, the type of which we’re more accustomed to seeing manifest itself in the death and technical metal genres, rather than bleak black metal.
It’s great to hear though. It’s also great that even with all of this controlled and directed chaos going on, the band are not an impenetrable mess at all. As I said earlier – this is surprisingly catchy and memorable. The band have managed to take very atypical dark riffs and corrupt melodies, infuse them with grim blackened filth, slice them up with a technical/modern metal sense of composition, drown it all in dissonant hatred, and somehow still end up with songs that flow well, show good dynamics, foster engaging atmospheres and even have enough barbed hooks that they stick in your mind almost straight away.
And the vocals? These are inhuman rasps that are a lot more uniform than the spiky music, and more effective because of this. There’s more going on here than you might think at first glance though, as even though they don’t have a lot of variety compared to the ever-changing music, they’re performed in such a way that they slot into the open spaces of the music in a very pleasing manner.
Taken as a full package, it’s all quite an achievement, and basically stems from the fact that Norse excel at writing non-standard black metal. The Divine Light of a New Sun is hugely impressive. In such a saturated scene it’s great to hear a band that are not only doing something different with the style, but are also doing it extremely well.
For anyone that prefers their black metal to have more challenge and therefore more reward than the norm, this is an essential listen.