I’ve always had a love for Swedish metal, whether it’s the melodeath of At the Gates, the post-sludge of Cult Of Luna or the proggy wonders of Meshuggah, much of my favourite metal has come from the land of fika and köttbullar. Recently though it’s been in their peninsula neighbours Norway where I’ve been finding some tremendous new music that defies the idea that 90s black metal is the best that Norway can offer heavy music. Whilst I’ve been a massive fan of Kvelertak for over a decade, I’ve slept on the likes of Blood Command, Ondt Blod, Malossi, and as it turns out KITE, for too long.
Hailing from Oslo, but with their members originating from all across Norway, KITE are one of those bands formed from the ashes of several other groups, and as such you can tell this trio are experienced in performing and writing with each other. Having released their debut album in 2009, their output had been sporadic until last year’s highly regarded full-length Irradiance. Currents is the follow up, and sees the band continue to produce a style of heaviness that combines the deep post-metal layers of Neurosis with the brutal and tormented sludge of EyeHateGod and the raw quasi-metal punk of My War era Black Flag. Unsurprisingly there is a lot to explore in this album, but records like this that are full of creative ideas spawned from organic song-writing are ultimately always judged on how consistently engaging they are.
Currents feels like it was recorded live, and it’s certainly been mixed to emphasise that feeling of a band being in the room together, feeding off each other and emphasising passion over precision. Even the vocals, which range from bellowing hardcore roars to visceral sludgey screams and solemn clean singing, feel intertwined to the energy of the live room. Altogether it brings an appealing and intimate, if also quite intense, atmosphere to what is often very bleak and vicious music.
Throughout the tracklist Currents is full of sublimely controlled chaos, which at times feels relentlessly harsh. Tracks like Ferret, Murdress and Turbulence pulsate with a ferocious, angular style of riffing that brings to mind all kinds of heavy punk bands like Pissed Jeans, Refused and Unsane. The band keep things at a slower pace on tracks like Ravines and Unveering Static, allowing the heavy tones to really develop and consume the listener, but still an element of febrile post-hardcore style discord remains. For all the chugging riffs, thumping bass and creeping tempos, Currents still feels closer to punk than it ever does to doom.
Tracks like Ferret, Murdress and Turbulence pulsate with a ferocious, angular style of riffing…
The band don’t just stick to the distorted heavy stuff either, and provide a whole plethora of dynamic clean sections throughout the record. One of the key things to successfully combining harsh and clean sounds like this is to make the balance of tension and release interesting and not always completely predictable. For the most part KITE do achieve this, and the opening of the album is a great example.
Beginning with Idle Lights, a drawn out guitar and bass movement full of tri-tone arpeggios, sub-bass drones and crackling feedback walls that craft a palpable tension, the release comes in a rather unexpected way, quickly breaking down into the following track Turbulence before exploding from nothing. You can feel this craft on other tracks like the slow melodic post-metal of Infernal Trails, the epic final movement of Heroin and the incredibly striking title track which, like all good titles tracks should, sits as a marvellous centrepiece displaying all the facets of the album in one.
Currents definitely takes a few solid listens before it really starts to shine. That relentless energy is broken up well in places, but the live sound means that the intensity is at 11 all the way through, and as such it can become almost overbearing. Once the riffs and melodies are a little familiar though, the album really starts to become engaging; the colours become more vivid, the details become more expressive, and the emotion becomes more pronounced. By the fourth or fifth listen I find myself simply not wanting Currents to end.
Scribed by: Will J