It’s always fascinating to keep coming back to bands over and over again across many years and always being surprised every time you come back to them, and it’s quite a fortunately lengthy list in my case with it happening all the time for me. Norse is just one name to pick out of that hat, and it’s been a long four years since we last heard from them with many of us only hoping they were really taking the time to create a truly deadly work by all accounts. In no small way, the grandeur of “Ascetic” is only barely touched on if we were to say it lived up to expectations.
To apply the word “unorthodox” to any sort of black metal would be to assume anything from a little to a lot depending on the band in question, but when we talk about Norse it must be understood that this is not an act that is content with being simply unorthodox in a way that many others would expect. And that’s always part of their devilish, dark charm that has only gotten more and more potent with each release with how the years have gone on, but it’s in particular with “Ascetic” that this act has made something exceptional. Their vicious sound has never once been something to ignore with how tenacious the band has always been to create an atmosphere and overall sensation that gets right underneath the skin of the listener, and no album of their’s has been more successful with this than “Ascetic” with it easily being the band’s most accomplished work to date. It’s a dense but intricately woven collection of occult sermons that pierce both flesh and spirit to a staggering degree as Norse shows off what they can really do as they command not only staunchly impressive black metal, but a large swathe outside of the style’s typical boundaries that feel all but intimidating to witness. Every twist and turn throughout “Ascetic” is just as harrowing as it is alluring with every decision that Norse makes here being somehow deadlier than the last whether it be to annhiliate the listener with gripping rhythms that hit on a different level or luring us even further in with calm moments that are damn near seductive in their macabre beauty. In no small way, this should be hailed as the most mature work to date from Norse, and it’s in every way something that must be hear by the modern black metal fan.
Any one of us could have said that Norse was going to out-do themselves yet again with this album given the singles that we’ve got up to the release of the record, but there’s nothing like experiencing the massive work for all that it has in its dark, wooded depths. The very spirit of “Ascetic” is something to be feared and respected, for it takes only a moment to devastate anything in its path should Norse command it to do so.
“Ascetic” releases on October 8th via Transcending Obscurity Records!
LISTEN to advanced tracks from “Ascetic” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Norse on Facebook here.