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VIRUS

Experimental/Post Metal • Norway


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Virus picture
Virus biography
Formed in Oslo, Norway in 2000

Obscure Norwegian Avant-Garde Metal band VIRUS was formed in 2000 by Carl-Michael Eide (also known as "Czral", "Aggressor") on guitars and vocals, Petter "Plenum" Berntsen (AUDIOPAIN) on bass guitar and Einar "Esso" Sjurso (INFERNÖ) on drums. VIRUS was meant to be a musical continuation of Eide's previous group VED BUENS ENDE , which had released only one full-length album at the time, however, VIRUS's approach to songwriting also changed with the new adherents hired by "Czral". The self-taught minds of VIRUS were influenced by a diverse variety of groups, from VOIVOD to TALKING HEADS, from MILES DAVIS to SODOM, from TORTOISE to UNIVERS ZERO... This explains how the group's only album to date, titled "Carheart", which was released in 2003 on Ulver's label Jester Records, managed to incorporate elements of rock, jazz, pop, electronic and metal music into their sound. However, as complex and genre transcending VIRUS's sound is, the songwriting is also in top shape, being harmonic in its unique way and also borrowing the eerie atmosphere that was first present in VED BUENS ENDE's music.

The group hasn't yet released any more albums, however, the last known VIRUS line-up has reformed as VED BUENS ENDE in 2006 together with Yusaf "Vicotnik" Parvez (a previous VBE member), and are expected to play VIRUS material live in addition to VBE catalog.

VIRUS's only album "Carheart" is highly recommended to the followers of the Norwegian Post-Black scene, as well as all fans of technical and avantgarde, yet eerie and atmospheric music. Recommended but not limited to fans of ULVER, VOIVOD, CYNIC and others!

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VIRUS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

VIRUS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.24 | 32 ratings
Carheart
2003
3.98 | 21 ratings
The Black Flux
2008
3.77 | 31 ratings
The Agent That Shapes The Desert
2011
3.88 | 11 ratings
Memento Collider
2016

VIRUS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

VIRUS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

VIRUS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.96 | 7 ratings
Oblivion Clock
2012

VIRUS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 3 ratings
Demo 2000
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
Investigator
2017

VIRUS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Black Flux by VIRUS album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.98 | 21 ratings

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The Black Flux
Virus Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

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.

 Carheart by VIRUS album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.24 | 32 ratings

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Carheart
Virus Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars Not to be confused with the German krautrock band from the early 70s with the same name, or the English thrash metal band from Brighton, England, or the Argentinian new wave band from the 80s, or the American punk rock band from Philadelphia, or the Canadian industrial metal band of the same name, or the Prague band from the Czech Republic, or (whew!) the Russian Eurodance act from Moscow, THIS band with the infectious moniker VIRUS emerged from the Norwegian capital city of Oslo and as i just pointed out did not pick the most original of names but like any successful pathogen adapted the perfect modes of transmission into the human psyche which makes this unique sounding act the best band named VIRUS of the lot!

Norwegian VIRUS is basically a continuation of the band Ved Buens Ende formed by multi-instrumentalist Carl-Michael Eide (aka Aggessor, Czral and Exhurtum) who has been quite prolific in the Norwegian avant-garde metal scene for not only his amazingly brilliant work on Ved Buens Ende's classic "Written In Waters" but also for his work with Aura Noir, Dødheimsgard, Cadaver, Infernö, Ulver and Satyricon. While Eide's emphasis has been predominantly in the world of progressive black metal, on Ved Buens Ende and the subsequent VIRUS project he shifted gears to a more avant-garde form of jazz influenced thrash metal that took the dissonant chord rampage of Voivod and fused them with the unorthodox behaviors of his Ved Buens Ende project which released only one album and moved on.

VIRUS had a much longer shelf life lasting from 2000 to 2018 but not exactly prolific since only four albums were released. The debut CARHEART was released in 2003 and followed in the footsteps of Ved Buens Ende's avant-garde pioneering of genre mashups which at the turn of the millennium was still quite the adventurous move as such angular expressions in metal were more the exception rather than the rule. While one could compare CARHEART to one of Voivod's more progressive albums that spanned from "Killing Technology" to "Nothingface," VIRUS took the progressive aspects even further with avant-prog constructs teased out into jangly metal chord rampages with off-kilter time signatures gussied up by jazzified drumming prowess accompanied by contrasting segments of more atmospheric ambience.

While the guitar sounds are right out of the Voivod playbook, that's pretty much where the similarities end although Eide's vocal style may remind some of the Voivod stylistic approach but VIRUS offers a much more abstract form of metal with atonal guitar heft, heavily distorted tones and grooves that are somewhat accessible to follow yet offer enough curve balls to throw you off the intended trail. While this tight-knit sound is impeccable in delivery it's really hard to believe that all these sounds are coming from the mere trio of Eide on guitar and vocals along with Petter Berntsen "Plenum" on bass and Einar Sjursø "Esso" on drums. There are also three guest backing vocalists who add more textural twists to the amplified jangled avant-garde oddities in store for your unsuspecting eardrums.

Perhaps the coolest part of VIRUS' unique sound is how the three instruments play off each other and four instruments if you count the vocal counterpoints in the mix. Each has its own melodic groove and they contrast in a very jarring way yet somehow fuse together in a way where the musical delivery is easy to follow provided you have some affinity with the harsh noisy delivery process of bands like Voivod or some of the more avant-garde forms of metal. If you are unfamiliar with Ved Buens Ende then this may come off as a bit jarring and VIRUS like its predecessor is definitely an acquired taste as it requires you find an anchor buried deep within the bombastic grooves and walls of sound however this album flows in a unique way all the way through its 49 minute playing time and is pretty much a classic in the avant-garde metal world as it perfectly knits the perfect tapestry of Voivod inspired progressive thrash metal along with the jazzy experimental touches of its predecessor band. This VIRUS is completely infectious at least to those susceptible to its quirky idiosyncratic ways.

 Carheart by VIRUS album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.24 | 32 ratings

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Carheart
Virus Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Luqueasaur

4 stars It's all gone weird: 8/10

Looking broadly, VIRUS proves to be of a wholly different species from their ancestors, VED BUENS ENDE but, just like in every good evolutionary process, they still share a few similarities, especially regarding their intrinsic characteristics.

In fact, if I were to point said similitudes - of which only one is worth noticing -, I'd go around saying both fellas are able to paint a bleak and mesmerizingly surreal atmosphere to their songs through absurdist and seemingly nonsensical lyrics, dissonant tunes that cause unsettlingness similar to ants crawling your skin, and being overall unmatched in terms of melody. Easy now though. Remember? Wholly different species. Don't get your avant-blackjazz all too aroused, "oh yes, finally, a continuation for WRITTEN IN WATERS". Nope. After all, they're unmatched in terms of melody, including among themselves.

You see, VED BUENS ENDE did all of this within a black metal atmosphere, with all its gloomy, tenebrous, cold glory. And Virus don't. Fuck being copycats of themselves, they play their own style, their own, eerie style of heavier-than- heavy-but-not-heavier-than-death dissonant metal; the drumming isn't nearly as bold and inventive as VBE's (in fact, rhythmically speaking CARHEART is a banger but also formulaic). That's the difference. But then you ask me, how does CARHEART sound? To which I'd answer, as I hardly do answer, you really gotta listen to it if you know how it's like. Well, it's not spectacularly innovative or off-this-world material, brought to us by genius minds to revolutionize music, it's just different, peculiar, unlike anything else. But hey, isn't that how evolution works, it just creates new things? When starfishes were invented, no one in the sea had seen anything alike. Doesn't make them amazingly important though, does it? Just... interesting. An interesting addition to the sea, the already freakish, filled with interesting things, sea.

To wrap it up: it's good. It's fun. It's CREEPY. A concept album about cars. That alone should warn you, this is creepy. And the vocals at Gum, Meet, Mother. Oh, my. You know, VIRUS shows potential. Just like starfishes eventually became humans (well, not really), maybe VIRUS is prone to, eventually, release something truly revolutionary. 'cause, just like DNA mutations, these guys clearly show a burning passion for creating new, weird things no one expected to exist.

Checka-checka-check it out! Worth your time, metal fans.

 Memento Collider by VIRUS album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.88 | 11 ratings

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Memento Collider
Virus Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Memento Collider" is the 4th full-length studio album by Norwegian avant garde rock/metal act Virus. The album was released through Karisma Records in June 2016. There's been one lineup change since the release of "The Agent That Shapes the Desert (2011)", as original bassist Petter "Plenum" Berntsen has returned to the fold, restoring the original three-piece lineup from the band's debut full-length studio album "Carheart (2003)". Berntsen was out of the band from 2010 to 2014. The remaining members of the lineup are Carl-Michael "Czral" Eide (guitars and vocals) and Einar "Einz" Sjurs' (drums). While five years between albums is a pretty long time, Virus did release the "Oblivion Clock" compilation in 2012.

Stylistically the long time between albums hasn't affected the band's vision and sound too much. We're still treated to dark and atmospheric, surreal, and twisted avant garde rock/metal. Dissonant open chords, semi-jazzy organic drumming and a heavy bass, and on top the odd and deranged vocals by Carl-Michael "Czral" Eide. While I do write rock/metal above, there are actually very few metal traits in the music, so it's more in spirit that Virus are connected to the metal scene.

"Memento Collider" features a powerful and organic sounding production, which suits the music perfectly. The material on the 6 track, 45:07 minutes long album is well written, adventurous, and intriguing. Virus have a very unique sound, but as always they've made little tweaks here and there, which ensure that "Memento Collider" stands out in their discography. The tracks are generally pretty long ("Afield" and "Phantom Oil Slick" are both around 9 to 10 minutes long), but they never become too drawn out, despite their often hypnotic repetitive nature. There's a dark organic drive to the compositions which provides them with great energy although the tempo is mostly slow- to mid-paced.

The haunted monotone vocals and abstract gloomy lyrical content contribute greatly to the bleak atmosphere, but the instrumental part of the music is not exactly in the light department either. There are other moods in the music than pitch black darkness though. The occasional nod towards some sort of twisted surf music and what I'd characterize as spy movie soundtrack tendencies on "Gravity Seeker" are examples of that. The percussion on "Phantom Oil Slick" is also a nice touch, which provides that track with a deranged tribal element. It's not showed down your throat though, because Virus are clever enough to incorporate those elements in a relatively subtle manner, which go along well with their core style.

So upon conclusion this is another high quality release by Virus and fans of the band can safely spend their hard earned money on this one. It's delightfully familiar without sounding too derivative of past releases, which of course also means that "Memento Collider" probably won't win over listeners who didn't enjoy the band's other releases. I'm sure Virus can live with that though, as they pretty surely don't play this type of music for commercial reasons (although we all need bread on the table). There's no mistaking the fact that this is a band who creates exactly this type of music for pure artistic reasons, and while some may find such an elitist attitude towards creating art ridiculous, I think it's great to experience that there are still artists out there trying to break down the boundaries of convention without the thought of anything else but creating unique sounding music. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

 Memento Collider by VIRUS album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.88 | 11 ratings

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Memento Collider
Virus Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Norwegian band VIRUS was formed in 2000 by former members of the black metal band Ved Buens Ende. They released their debut album "Carheart" in 2003, and have since released a new album every four to five years. "Memento Collider" is their fourth full-length studio recording, and was released by the Norwegian label Karisma Records in the early summer of 2016.

The fourth studio album by the Norwegian band Virus is a creative and rather original production, a dark, bleak and striking piece of oppressive yet alluring and mesmerizing progressive rock. A firm taste and established fascination for themes and music of a darker nature will most likely be required to be able to get the music explored here, and those who recognize themselves in such a description are advised to give this one a spin.

 Carheart by VIRUS album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.24 | 32 ratings

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Carheart
Virus Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars On Carheart, the blasted remnants of avant-black metal outfit Ved Buens Ende shudder into life again in the new form of Virus. This time, the black metal focus which had kept Ved Buens Ende's sound anchored and coherent is set aside, resulting in freewheeling experimentation even more reminiscent of Mr Bungle. There are points where the band seem to be experimenting for experimentalism's sake and trying to feel out their new sound and songwriting preferences, and sometimes they make decisions which don't really add much aesthetically (the production applied to the vocals on the title track I find to be particularly pointless aesthetically), but on the whole it's an interesting grab-bag of ideas.
 Oblivion Clock by VIRUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2012
3.96 | 7 ratings

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Oblivion Clock
Virus Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Oblivion Clock" is a compilation album by Norwegian avant garde rock/metal act Virus. The album was released through Virulent Records/Duplicate Records in December 2012. Itīs sometimes refered to as an EP, but itīs actually a compilation of a four track EP featuring new recordings (only available on this release as far as I know), the two tracks from the rare 7" single that came with only 250 copies of the vinyl version of "The Agent That Shapes the Desert (2011)" and one unreleased track from "Carheart (2003)" sessions.

While there are notable differences in sound production between the tracks (all tracks feature a raw yet well sounding production), itīs actually amazing how well "Oblivion Clock" goes down as one consistent product. At least Iīm greatly entertained all the way through the relatively short playing time of 31:30 minutes. The music on the album is in the bandīs trademark dissonant avant garde rock/metal style. Itīs dark and sinister and delivered with a sense of carnival madness that only Virus master. While the music only borders metal, itīs often damn heavy and while itīs not always directly aggressive, thereīs aggression just underneath every note played, but also a deep despair. References to acts like Bauhaus and Joy Division arenīt completely wrong but the dissonance of Voivod is also a big part of Virus sound. Itīs however Carl-Michael Eideīs lunatic singing style thatīs the number one defining element in Virus sound. The man sounds positively deranged...

Because the tracks are compiled from different sessions, "Oblivion Clock" is a rather varied release. While all tracks are unmistakably the sound of Virus, tracks like the upbeat "Saturday Night Virus" and the Walker Brothers cover "Shutout" are a bit different from what I usually expect from Virus and I think it suits them well to branch out and try new and different things. Other highlights to me are the title track and "Inverted Escape".

Not all compilations featuring rare material and B-sides, which Iīd put "Oblivion Clock" in catagory with, are equally interesting or necessary for that matter, but "Oblivion Clock" is not one of those. Itīs in fact a very great release with material thatīs fully on par with anything the band have released on their preceeding studio albums. I find "Oblivion Clock" highly recommendable both to fans and to newcommers, who could do well by starting their Virus journey here. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is fully deserved.

 Carheart by VIRUS album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.24 | 32 ratings

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Carheart
Virus Experimental/Post Metal

Review by frippism
Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

5 stars The full-fledging arid dry daunting intimidating hilarious and beautiful masterpiece of metal.

There are few albums to which I go to more than this one. In many ways- it contradicts any and all stereotypes of Norwegian metal. Where the stereotypical Norwegian metal band will immediately bring you images of sharp and steep cliffs and fjords, daunting and freezing winters, the first thing I usually think about when I listen Virus is the desert. A flat, bare, empty, desert. Bizarre, dissonant, with production where everything just sounds so dry and compact. Czral (who is also well known as the drummer in Ved Buens Ende), the eternal genius he is, has a distortion so dry, crunchy, bare, that it almost makes my mouth dry really. The drum set is jazzy and punchy, with all drums tuned to sound tight and with minimal echo. All cymbals are incredibly crisp. And then that bass. Almost galloping, almost as if at times it's chasing those guitar lines. It all comes to indent in the end Czral's brilliant, arpeggio-picking, drop tuned guitar. The drop-C guitar tuning brings more than heaviness in this album, but darkness, the sort of darkness I get from a hallucinations, insanity. Czral's guitars are never showy, but they are what drive this album forward into new, twisted directions. It's not that this album is that heavy, it is that it is in conclusion so twisted, dark, somewhat insane, that metal seems the only logical choice to identify Virus as.

But the sound is so different! Not quite like anything I've heard. And one of the stronger trademarks of this album, is Kvohst's powerful, epic, sincere, croon. It's almost god like. Almost as if you're walking in a desert and he is speaking over you calling you a fallish mortal and making fun of your hair. Like he doesn't take anything you do with your life seriously. It is impressive and at times really funny. There's also quite an interesting use of ambient passages in between songs. Many of them actually consist of cars whizzing by (Carheart eh?), and a particularly powerful and creepy sampling from what I assume to be dialogue from a French movie.

Every tiniest little detailed was fine tuned, to give the album the correct atmosphere, to give it that Virus vibe. It is a joy to revisit this songs to find this little tweaks, to appreciate the powerful wall of sound which the guitar work display here. It is a sound that is so unforgettable, and in many ways inspiring and thought provoking. It is emotional as it is maniacal as it is beautiful.

I suggest you join the fun!

 The Agent That Shapes The Desert by VIRUS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.77 | 31 ratings

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The Agent That Shapes The Desert
Virus Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'The Agent That Shapes The Desert' - Virus (7/10)

From a country known for its relatively wintery landscapes like Norway, I would not have expected to hear an overtly desert-rock styled album, as I do with avant-garde rockers Virus and their third full length. From the ashes of legendary avant-metal act Ved Buens Ende came Virus, a band that has often been met with conflicting genre labels and categorizations, and all to their credit; they do bear a strikingly unique sound to them. 'The Agent That Shapes The Desert' starts 2011 on quite a good note for these talented musicians, and while I cannot say that the magic of this album is all too suited to my tastes, I have no trouble seeing why fans of metal and avant-garde music alike are swooning over the record.

From a personal perspective, I see the music on Virus' 'The Agent That Shapes The Desert' as being some sort of eccentric cross between fellow Norwegians Arcturus, and the latter- era Americana of drone pioneers Earth. Contrary to the 'metal' label that this band and album has been receiving alot, the sound is instead more rooted in a sort of jazz-inspired desert rock, full with dissonant riffing, strange song structures and odd time signatures to hold up the rear. Instrumentally, I must say that the music is incredible at painting some quirky imagery of a post-apocalyptic desert, complete with tumbleweed and wind-bitten cow skulls.

Where the sound of Virus starts to go wrong with me are primarily to do with the vocals of Czral. Feeling far too highly mixed in terms of volume, Czral's somewhat operatic croon really tends to grind against the sound of the album, feeling cheesy and even campy at times. Although I will admit that the voice does grow with each listen, the mixing issue remains an issue. Also, while melody is obviously not a big concern with alot of avant-garde music, Virus' fairly concise and riff-based music songwriting could have done with some hooks to add a more engaging quality to the music.

An excellent album on an instrumental level, although I still am not yet convinced by the vocal work even after several experiences with it. 'The Agent That Shapes The Desert' will be sure to be an album that sticks around for quite a while on playlists, and while the desert rock style here doesn't much mesh with my personal tastes, I can certainly see this as certainly being one of the more unique albums to come out in 2011.

 The Agent That Shapes The Desert by VIRUS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.77 | 31 ratings

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The Agent That Shapes The Desert
Virus Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "The Agent That Shapes the Desert" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Norwegian avant garde rock/ metal act Virus. The album was co-released in February 2011 by Virulent Music/ Dublicate Records.

During the recording of the album Virus parted ways with Season of Mist and had to resort to alternative funding to complete the album. Therefore Virus announced on the Dublicate Records homepage that they encouraged fans to pre- order "The Agent That Shapes the Desert", in order for the band to be able to finish and release the album. So "The Agent That Shapes the Desert" is one of those albums that was forged with blood, sweat and tears (and with help from the dedicated fans). Not only did the band co-release the album on their own label Virulent Music, they are also responsible for paying for additional studio time, mastering, printing and promoting the album.

The music on the album continues the dark, twisted and bleak rock/ metal style that Virus have become known for. The vocals are bleak, monotone and desperate sounding, the guitar riffs are dissonant, twisted and open strings and chords are often used. The drums are laid back and cool and session bassist Bjeima plays some rather intriguing basslines. Take a listen to the bassline in the opening title track for an example of that.

As usual though there are enough twists and turns and unique sounding ideas to tell the album apart from the bandīs previous releases. First of all the production is very different from the bass heavy and dark production on "The Black Flux (2008)". The sound is lighter and the guitar has a distinct thin sound. Not thin in a negative sense, but the sound is purposely not very distorted or heavy. The compositions themselves also deviate some. So while the band definitely have what I would characterize as a core sound, they are not afraid to try new things. The rather progressive "Dead Cities Of Syria" and "Chromium Sun", the latter which features a semi-disco beat, are examples of songs where Virus incorporate new features into their core sound. The way Czral delivers his vocals in the title track is also a new element. An element I hope the band will explore further on subsequent releases. If the band were to start using more varied vocal styles, their releases could be even greater IMO. Speaking of varied vocal styles the closing track "Call Of The Tuskers" features a guest vocal performance by Garm (Ulver), which is never a bad thing.

As with the two predecessors "The Agent That Shapes the Desert" is an album that takes time to sink in and appreciate. Even though the music is mostly based on simple rock instrumentation of guitar, bass and drums ( there are also a few keyboard parts as far as I can hear), there are lots of details in the music that you probably wonīt catch on your first listen. "The Agent That Shapes the Desert" continues the high quality that Iīve come to expect from Virus and while I still feel the album hasnīt completely clicked with me yet and has the potential of growing even more on me over time, Iīll risk my neck and give out a 4 star rating. Itīs not everyday you come across an act as unique sounding as Virus and succesful innovation and experimentation is always something Iīm prepared to honour.

Thanks to Bryan for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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