Though I didn’t review it at the time, I was definitely a fan of Norska’s self-titled 2011 debut, with the Portland five-piece landing somewhere between YOB and Neurosis on the post-sludge scale. As a matter of fact, their bassist has also played on the last three YOB albums… which might go some way in explaining the delay between releases from this outfit.
In any case, Norska circa 2017 offers us another handful of tuneage, slightly shorter than its predecessor despite including one more song. “Samhain” starts things off, and we’re immediately hit by a burst of black-metal style riffage. But despite their name, this doesn’t sound Norwegian, as its not long before an angular stop-start riff takes over. But there’s also a section around the 2:30 mark that wouldn’t sound outta place on The Exorcist soundtrack as the song takes a horror-movie turn before gearing us up for a final stanza verging on power metal… albeit with Viking-style vocals. Suffice to say they’ve progressed quite a bit since the debut.
“Eostre” goes even further down the black-metal rabbit hole—a two-and-a-half-minute burst of blackened sludge that recalls Midwesterners Coffinworm or Lord Mantis. By contrast, the 10-minute title track has a couple riffs that wouldn’t sound outta place on a YOB record, with a vocal that’s somewhat akin to Mike Scheidt, minus the upper register… although things get a little weird halfway through when it takes a trippy, call-and-response tact more reminiscent of Godstopper. “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” is another 9+ minute number, this one even slower and sludgier than its predecessor, complete with sickly sweet vocals containing traces of Peter Steele before they start hitting higher notes around the three-minute mark.
Overall, ’tis a somewhat short (38 minutes) but strange trip, indeed!