Review Summary: Virus finalize/optimize their unfinished ideas from past sessions and with the inclusion of rare material, they give out more of the same, albeit with a minor twist.
One of the safest bets in the music industry is to check if bands or individual musicians have left aside unfinished songs and ideas during the song writing sessions for a series of full length albums. Stimuli and unconscious urges turn to rough ideas on guitar, bass, drums and words, and in result, to an excess of songs bearing a varying degree of quality and character. Inevitably, some of them are not going to fit exactly within the overall concept of an album and they either end up in the dumpster or left aside for future usage. As of late and in view of the crisis prevailing over the entire music industry, these dumpsters have taken the form of “limited edition” or “delux” releases, where bands are being forced -by labels- to put bonus tracks along with the standard record material. In most cases, the said bonus material does not add much to the overall quality of a full length record, as it suffices only for approximating the physical data storage limit of the available media formats.
Fortunately enough, Virus from Norway don’t see their releases as “bonus” material dumpsters. Their debut album Carheart
and the song “Road” form a case in point. The origins of “Road” go back in 1995 and the recording sessions of Ved Buens Ende for Written In Waters
. Although it turned out to be somewhat different in character, when compared to the sole VBE album, it proved to be a perfect match for the avant-garde rock thing that Virus introduced in 2003. In Oblivion Clock
EP, Virus finalize/optimize their previously unfinished ideas and along with some rare material, initially available for the first 250 pre-orders of the The Agent That Shapes The Desert
album, they give out more of the same, albeit with a minor twist.
With the exception of “Inverted Escape”, the material present in the first part of the EP (tracks 1, 3 and 4) is orbiting around a hypnotic doom/blues rock style, manifested through Eide’s crooning eccentricities, his trademark guitar/bass work and Sjurso’s intelligent drum beats. The style of these songs feels similar to that of The Black Flux
, although the awesome diversity of the latter in terms of tempo ups and downs is absent. On the other hand, “Inverted Escape” is a rock n’ roll anthem eclectically confined within the temporal and instrumental field constants of Carheart
and The Agent That Shapes The Desert
. The only “alien” element in these premises, exists in the latent industrial vibe of the middle “intermission” track of the EP (a tradition for Virus since The Black Flux
The remainder of the EP starts with “Saturday Night Virus”, whose rather enjoyable disco rock beat feels as a rehash of the eponymous song in The Black Flux
, filtered through the straight rock agenda of The Agent That Shapes The Desert
. “Seen Through The Sediments” feels like a leftover session from the aforementioned album, which fell rather short in maintaining the momentum of its predecessors and that says something about the song’s end replay value. Still, Virus save their last good card for the end of the game with their cover on the song “Shutout” from The Walker Brothers. Admittedly, Eide’s crooning cannot match the otherworldly voice of Scott Walker on any given occasion. Instrumentally though, the band is as tight as it gets, sounding better than the Walker Brothers in the original take of the song. What follows is just a mere hunch, but this cover feels as a sign of things to anticipate from this band in the future.
Despite its inherent inhomogeneity, Oblivion Clock
ultimately succeeds in maintaining the interest for this band in adequately high levels until the release of the next full-length affair. The moment these lines are being written, the band is working on new material for a new album and all that can be done for now is to listen to this EP and ignore the ticks of the clocks around us.