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Virus - The Black Flux CD (album) cover



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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars More black, less flux

Sub-genre: Progressive Metal (with a side order of AvantGarde)
For Fans of: Voivod
Vocal Style: Gothic sounding Peter Murphy/Steele-esque
Guitar Style: Distorted electric
Keyboard Style: I hear a piano once
Percussion Style: Standard rock kit played much heavier than previous album
Bass Style: Picked electric, occasional overdriven sound
Other Instruments: Piano and Violin somewhere

Summary: Five years removed from a nearly perfect freshman effort, Carheart, Virus returns with a more metallic presentation. The feel of dissonance in the guitar/bass remains, but the contrast has taken a back seat to a more straight forward distorted sound. The eerie clean breaks have been substituted with heavy handed power throughout the album, but not in an overly-compressed Meshuggah style stomp. The musical structure still contains a significant complexity, but not nearly comparable to Carheart.

A definite shift in vocal style occurs as well. An almost evangelical dissertation is pronounced in very gothic fashion that is reminiscent of the more guttural moments of Peter Murphy (Bauhaus). One thing that remains the same is the darkness and despair conveyed by the sound. This is not one for those seeking out the Yeses of the Progressive world.

The Highlight for me is the franticly busy Lost Peacocks with its sinister walking bass and creepy chromatic chorus. The bridge vocal harmonies will make the hair stand on the back of your neck.

Final Score: The first listen was at times disappointing due to the aforementioned lack of contrast. Where Carheart required no break-in time, The Black Flux was distinctly different in that regard. But the growth factor kicked in quickly. This album will appeal less to Avant-Garde/RIO fans and more to Post Metal or Extreme Metal fans. 3.8 stars, rounded up.

Report this review (#191997)
Posted Saturday, December 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's no coincidence I reviewed this album together with Intronaut's Prehostoricisms. They are quite different but expressions of the same musical philosophy: free expression, highly innovating musicianship, dense chord progressions and other jazzy goodies.

The music is decidedly less heavy then Intronaut and replaces the Neurosis and Tool stylings with an equal amount of Voivod complexities and the haunting anguish of Bauhaus, especially in the vocal department, but also in the yearning guitar licks. Again, this music has little to do with metal. It's highly experimental but not heavier then Voivod was around Nothingface. It's highly chromatic, not to say atonal and almost categorically non-melodic.

To draw a last parallel with Intronaut, the vocals might be the aspect that will shy away most listeners. The plaintive declamatory diction gets heavy to take after a few songs. Maybe the album would have benefited from more instrumental parts or from some melodic relief left or right. But I'm quite sure they did it on purpose. Easy-listening this is not, but one of the most unique and innovative bands around? Sure. 3.5 stars

Report this review (#254077)
Posted Thursday, December 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "The Black Flux" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Norwegian experimental rock/metal act Virus. The album was released through Season of Mist in November 2008. Virus is the brainchild of Czral (Carl-Michael Eide) who handles vocals and guitars. Esso (Einar Sjurso) handles the drums and the bass is played by Plenum (Petter Berntsen). There are a few guest musicians on the album. Bård Ingebrigtsen add baritone guitar, violin, piano and slide to the mix while Benny "B9" Braaten adds ambience (whatever that is).

The tracks for "The Black Flux" were originally meant to be released on the comeback album by Ved Buens Ende who had reformed in April 2006 after they originally split up in 1997. Czral and Vicotnik (Yusaf Parvez) apparently weren´t able to make the ends meet though and split up again in 2007. Vicotnik went on to work on the "Supervillain Outcast (2007)" album by Dødheimsgard and more recently the "Resplendent Grotesque (2009)" album by Code. Czral on the other hand opted to take the tracks that were originally written for the next Ved Buens Ende album and turn them into Virus songs.

The music the three-piece conjure up on "The Black Flux" is dark, twisted and slightly experiental rock/metal. Imagine what would happen if Joy Division and Voivod made a collaborative album. This is indeed a bleak and dissonant sounding album. The vocals by Czral are desperate, monotone and depressive while the instrumental side of the music is built upon twisted, dissonant riffs and a great playing rythm section. The music can seem a bit repetitive and maybe a bit too monotone in nature upon first listen but given time small recognisable hooks start to appear. There are many excellent compositions on this album but the ending track "Strange Calm" and especially the intense "As Virulent as You" really make my blood boil. The latter simply blows me away. It´s one of those rare songs that literally creates vivid and unpleasant images of vile and dark things in my mind. The opening lines to "As Virulent as You" belong in the twisted and bizarre genious catagory when Czral sings: "Your contaminated majesty, You live in my wounds". He sounds like a cross between a scary lunatic and a delirious alcoholic. Brilliant.

The production is organic and dark. It suits the music perfectly.

"The Black Flux" is an excellent release by Virus and I find it a highly recommendable purchase for fans of dark and twisted experimental rock/metal. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#268516)
Posted Friday, February 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars Following in the footsteps of his lauded Ved Buens Ende, Carl-Michael Eide better known as Aggressor, Czral or Exhurtum unleashed his musical pathogen called VIRUS in the year 2000 and crafted a sound that was a hybrid of his Ved Buens Ende era and the more progressive thrash sounds of Voivod. 'Blackheart' came out in 2003 but such avant-garde metal sounds were not yet as en vogue as they would become a few years later and therefore the album went a bit under the radar despite crafting some incredibly intricate deliveries of jazz-tinged jangle metal steeped in dissonance and avant-prog angularities. Czral (the name he used for the VIRUS project) would wait five whole years for a follow-up as most of his energy was spent in other projects such as Aura Noir, Cadaver and D'dheimsgard.

The sophomore album THE BLACK FLUX was unleashed in 2008 and by that time the public had caught up to some of the more adventurous metal sounds that had been spewing forth since Gorguts caught the world off guard with its bizarre death metal madness on 'Obscura.' Once again VIRUS consisted of the trio of Eide on guitar and vocals along with Petter Berntsen 'Plenum" on bass and Einar Sjurs' "Einz" on drums. Unlike 'Carheart' there are no additional vocalists but instead a couple of additional guests who offer some extra touches with the baritone guitar, violin, piano, slide guitar, soundscape effects and ambience. Having gained a foothold in the underground metal scene, the Seasons of the Mist label sniffed VIRUS out and signed them for this second coming.

Two factors in play meant THE BLACK FLUX would experience a wider range of recognition from not just the critics but also the avant-garde metal loving public. Firstly the sounds of dissonant Voivod inspired jangle chords laced with progressive rock and thrashy metal had become more mainstream with many new bands venturing out into the adventurous world of experimental rock that adopted more aggressive metal bombast. Secondly, THE BLACK FLUX is a bit more accessible than its predecessor which meant that the recipe was ripe for those seeking music on the cutting edge to go all gaga over. This second album is much more streamlined than the first with nine tracks cruising on for slightly over 53 minutes of playing time however if the comparisons with Voivod were valid on the first album, on THE BLACK FLUX those comparisons are even more valid.

While the opening sounds of 'Stalkers Of The Drift' offer a bleak atmospheric ambient backdrop, the bombastic dissonant guitar riffs quickly enter the scene and establish a paradigm that defines the entire album's sound. Augmented with guitar chords that sound out of tune which are rhythmically propelled through jittery angular processions, the unique declarative vocal style of Czral fills the cracks between the staccato driven cacophonous counterpoints of the bass, guitar and drums. While there are many moments when the three instruments are in direct oppositions, often they come together for a cacophonous, thunderous roar of jangly guitar chords, avant-grooviness of the bass and jazzified drum fills with an abundance of metal energetic drive. The disharmonies harken back to the Ved Buens Ende days for sure but the Voivod connections are more in your face this time around.

The strengths of THE BLACK FLUX is that the album is impeccable in its delivery of this highly caustic stilted avant-garde metal that provides a bass groove and decorates it with freakery from all angles however THE BLACK FLUX fails to exude the same wow factor that 'Carheart' does. While this album perfectly adheres to the formula set out by the debut, it seems more like some of the dynamics had been tamped down a bit for more of a crossover appeal that would bleed into the alternative metal world. While not bad in any way, THE BLACK FLUX does seem a bit like a retread without any new ideas added to the mix and despite the extras of violin, piano and slide guitar, they aren't really that prevalent in the mix. For Voivod fans and those who want to hear a more mainstream approach to the Ved Buens Ende style then this will enthrall your eardrums for sure as its an excellent album but doesn't quite seem to engage in the variations that made the debut so exciting and unique.

Report this review (#2343947)
Posted Saturday, March 21, 2020 | Review Permalink
3 stars 1st March, 2021: Virus - The Black Flux (experimental rock/metal, 2008)

A truly fascinating fusion - I've often said that those spidery dissonant arpeggio riffs that dominate some areas of black metal could sound perfectly natural in other contexts. It's something that artists like Oranssi Pazuzu and Hail Spirit Noir developed in the 2010s, but here in 2008 we have an album from Virus that pre-dates the trend by nearly a decade. This is barely a metal album, let alone black metal, but there are dozens of riffs that could be mistaken for Deathspell Omega ones, this time piled on top of psychedelic rock vocals and songwriting more than any metal. I'm not entirely sold on the album, particularly the first half, but it's undeniably a very unique style.

6.7 (3rd listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook music blog -

Report this review (#2607157)
Posted Sunday, October 24, 2021 | Review Permalink

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