Review Summary: In their second effort, Virus present a new interpretation of the scriptures written in waters that reside by the end of the rainbow…
5 years in silence is a long time. While other bands have the privilege of “talking” every 1.5/2 years, “saying” nothing really (due to their good financing and promotion that sooner or later results in an unreasonably high fan hype), bands like Virus stay in the dark. However, no shortcoming is free of benefit and vice versa. Perpetual musical blabbering inevitably becomes white noise silence, while silence is able to really
teach a band how to speak and be heard
from those who want to listen, regardless of their magnitude in absolute numbers. Virus’s The Black Flux
stands as a landmark example of a band and record that have mastered the teachings of silence to their best benefit.
In The Black Flux
, Virus succeed in fully realizing a concept that was present in Carheart
only as a vague notion. That is endorsing key characteristics from the black metal ethics in their sound, while maintaining their songwriting backbone components within the straight rock sector. One universal constant of black metal is known to be the copious/maniacal repetitiveness of bleak riffs over a blast beating (in most cases) rhythm section. Carl Michael Eide (aka Czral) uses the aforementioned element for his atonal and dissonant riffing, excessively with respect to the debut. In addition, his riffs sound even more devastating and eerie when compared to his work for Carheart
while they stand substantially closer to the sound of Ved Buens Ende. However, the band is smart enough to change tempo at the right instance, while the riffs sound either bleak or groovy in equal proportions, in a most unexpected way (listen to the mutated 70’s Abba disco main rhythm of the title song mixed with the eerie Virus trademark riffing for example). As a result, all possible tiring effects from the relatively big temporal length and the copious repetition of riffs and rhythms per song are watered down to zero.
Did I say the word groovy" The strange thing about The Black Flux
is that aside from the enhanced bleakness of the songs, the overall groove of the record is amplified as well. This is due to the fact that the drum patterns of Einar Sjursø sound more pluralistic now, while the bass lines of Plenum have somewhat retreated in terms of taking rhythm initiatives as in Carheart
, thus giving room to the drums. The cymbals are used frequently and they add superbly to the groove (listen to As Virulent As You or Shame Eclipse for example). Apart from the basic rock instrumentation used here, another instrument that severely adds up to the eerie effect of the record is the classical piano, which is used in an ingeniously non-trivial way. The closest description of how Virus use the piano could be that of a cat with a sharp intellect toeing in random over 2-3 piano keys, with the melody repeating itself periodically within each song. As a second interpretation, those short piano phrases could be seen as distant watchtowers (the one from the other) that guide the listener through the grey vapor mist that the riffs of Carl Michael create along with the rhythm section. Inward Bound – one of the best songs of The Black Flux
, if not the best by far – serves as a superb token of the aforementioned piano usage along with the established Virus rock instrumentation.
Carl Michael’s vocals stand as the black cherry on top of this bitter cake that The Black Flux
is. His baritone pitch dominates the whole record, yet his pronunciation is more stentorian than ever. He even brings forth and in full extent his atonal and abstracts ways of singing back in 1995, producing a superb mix of the old with the new.
The sound production is superb once again. The rhythm section sounds thick and “dangerous”, while the mesmerizing effect of the guitars coupling with the voices, is amplified to the maximum possible extent.
Closing in, in their second effort, Virus present a new interpretation of the scriptures written in waters that reside by the end of the rainbow… In this light, it is more than intriguing to see how things will turn out in the band’s next record under the title The Agent That Shapes The Desert