Carpathian Forest - Strange Old Brew
Avantgarde Music
Black Metal
11 songs (37:11)
Release year: 2000
Avantgarde Music
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Moving away from their early spinechilling Black Metal sound, Carpathian Forest gave into their collective inner reprobate for Strange Old Brew, an album which despite causing many a raised eyebrow amongst the corpsepainted elite continues to strain neck muscles ten years later. Say what you like about the Norwegians' tongue-in-cheek approach, Nattefrost and company are very good at songwriting, and this is far from a disappointment if you're followed the band since the excellent Black Shining Leather. It's pretty much a step sideways from there, the bass-heavy Thrash- and Rock-infused darkness focusing on perverse sexual atmosphere and creating what is essentially a party album for the damned. What always brings me back to Carpathian Forest's later full lengths is, however, the intelligence that's often quite obvious beneath the alcohol and bodily fluids, and Strange Old Brew is great, mixing various styles together in a kickass collection of songs.

It can't be mentioned enough that Carpathian Forest are in a great minority in the Black Metal world with their Punk-infused sound. The loud bass and Rock-influenced playing makes for an enjoyable yet still very dark style, different to Black Shining Leather in that it's punkier, and tracks like Bloodcleansing rattle along with near grind-esque intensity. You have to be an extremist sort of puritan indeed to not get down and dirty with the likes of Mask Of The Slave, complete with mid-track breakdown and sampled orgasmic moans. It is, of course, catchy as hell, stomping along with reckless abandon and making the epic clunks of Martyr/Sacrificulum work wonderfully alongside the lunges into flailing, helpless Black Metal speed.

What really makes Strange Old Brew enjoyable is that it lives up to its title. The variety is superb - it's far from a uniformly samey punk album. Take the slow and atmospheric Thanatology as an example, its ambient keyboard wall of backing sound proving the band have still got what it takes when it comes to that aspect of their nature. House Of The Whipcord's sleazy Jazz is another departure from the norm, whispered vocals and sober piano at odds with the backing saxophone, followed by Cloak Of Midnight's slow, almost Doom crawl. This album is mostly about the party, however, The Suicide Song's pounding catchiness one of the overriding themes, and even the mid-paced Return Of The Freezing Winds is a headbanger. You'll likely be as disgustedly amused as I was by The Good Old Enema Treatment, which does exactly what it says on the tin, but there's a bonus track to make up for it, the band's single He's Turning Blue from the previous year, which absolutely rocks.

Carpathian Forest are generally criticised, amongst other things, for being too attached to this older version of themselves - I suppose in some ways it is a split in the band's personality. Still, I'll admit to being in love with both versions, the grumpy atmospheric misanthropes and the all too literal perverse party poopers. A collection of their songs is always going to be an enjoyable stomp through the filth, whatever aspect of their style you're hearing, and whilst the tracklisting could have been shuffled a little so that the atmospheric pieces were less bunched together, ultimately the only complaint that one can really have about a Carpathian Forest album is that it's not as good as another Carpathian Forest album. Strange Old Brew isn't their best, but neither is it their worst, and partakers of the band's unique brand of perversity will have no complaints.

Killing Songs :
Bloodcleansing, Mask Of The Slave, Martyr/Sacrificulum, The Suicide Song, Return Of The Freezing Winds, He's Turning Blue
Goat quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Carpathian Forest that we have reviewed:
Carpathian Forest - Morbid Fascination Of Death reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Carpathian Forest - Black Shining Leather reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Carpathian Forest - Through Chasm, Caves And Titan Woods reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Carpathian Forest - Defending The Throne Of Evil reviewed by Crims and quoted 76 / 100
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