Virus - The Black Flux
Season Of Mist
Avant-Garde Metal
9 songs (53:11)
Release year: 2008
Virus, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by James

Mr Carl-Michael Eide has been having something of a rough time of it these past few years, with his mysterious accident effectively clipping his wings for a while. After a utterly fruitless Ved Buens Ende reunion, the past couple of years have seen something of a return to the fold for Eide. Last year saw him break his silence with a guest spot on Darkthrone's F.O.A.D, and 2008 has seen him releasing a new Aura Noir as well as resurrecting avant-garde metallers Virus. Last time around Virus were halted by Carl-Michael doing himself a rather serious mischief. Which is a shame, as their debut Carheart had potential. It was rather too messy and sloppy for it's own good, but it had a good sound behind it, something that could really be made into something great.

So it's a good thing that The Black Flux is essentially Carheart's more focused, mature sibling. It's still Virus through and through, mind, all weird chords and bizarre, practically non-existent time signatures. I suppose this is where the oft-thrown about comparisons to Talking Heads come in. Virus have effectively done for black metal what Talking Heads did for pop music on Remain In Light. That is, blown it up, collected all the pieces and stuck them back together in a completely unrecognisable form. For a more recent example, check the odd, discordant excursions Deathspell Omega started going on their past two releases. Not that you'll find any blastbeats or demented shrieking here. Carl-Michael's vocals are certainly interesting in their own right, sounding approximately similar to the style Garm used back in his Arcturus days (Eide's voice isn't quite on par with the godly Trickster G, of course). Lyrically, it's every bit as bizarre as Carheart, and coupled with Carl's grandiose singing there's a passing, passing, mind you, resembelance to Scott Walker's utterly terrifying The Drift (not that you'll be hearing a donkey crashing through the ceiling on The Black Flux, mind).

But while The Black Flux is a marked improvement over Carheart, it still has many of the flaws that dogged that particular record, albeit in a noticeably lessened form. There's still a disappointing lack of variety here, the Virus formula wearing a bit thin towards the end of the album. Yes, they can do all sorts of jazzy, discordant stuff, but over 50 minutes of jazzy discordant stuff (bear in mind that there's very little shift in speed or time signature here) gets utterly gruelling. Still, it's a hell of a lot more focused than Carheart, As Virulent As You almost sounding like a conventional song. I'm not adverse to more free-flowing music, of course, but when said music simply feels like the band are making excuses for not writing properly then yes, we do have a problem.

Yet, in small doses, I really like Virus, and I really want them to pull it all together and make the special album I think they can. While on The Black Flux they've reined in their experimental tendencies, and it's resulted in a better album because of it, I'd actually like Virus to really go all out for the next album. A full-on jazz-metal album would work well for the band (and at the very least, can I have some improvisational soloing?), and the use of more instrumentation beyond guitars, bass and drums wouldn't go amiss, either. Virus have sown the seeds of a good thing, now let's see it sprout into something magical. As it is, it's good but a bit dull, and “good but a bit dull” records tend not to stay in regular rotation for long, I've found.

Killing Songs :
Stalkers Of The Drift, As Virulent As You
James quoted 73 / 100
Other albums by Virus that we have reviewed:
Virus - The Agent that Shapes the Desert reviewed by Charles and quoted 80 / 100
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