Drott is comprised of Arve Isdal (Enslaved), Ivar Thormodsæter (Ulver) and Matias Monsen and hails from Bergen in the west coast of Norway. With their varied musical background ranging from metal and jazz to classical music, the band have created their own genre which can only be described as Drott. Inspired by forces of nature, superstition and spirituality the trio explores light within darkness through their music.
Their first full length album Orcus (Lord of the Underworld) is a concept album that sees the music accompany a story of a jouney to hell and back undertaken by the lead character Drott. One of the tracks is ‘Katabasis’ which is the ancient Greek term for the story of a descent into Hell and return, made by a living human being.
Drott is lured into the maze ‘Caredroia’ where he meets and/or endures the various scenes throughout this album.
The straightforward title of opening track ‘The Lure’ begins the album in a mysterious and haunting manner. Monsen’s lonesome cello mimicked by female vocals as the notes rise and fall. The emergence of guitar only gives the track a sinister edge before abruptly stopping and the second track takes over with pounding distorted drums and guitar with the a cello.
After being lured in Drott is flung into the maze ‘Caerdroia’. A pulsating beast of heavy drumming incessant guitar stabs and sorrow filled strings.
‘Katabasis’ is the only track with vocals on the album. It’s a more rock centred track with rhythmic guitar giving some thing again for the strings to reflect off as they twist the melody into darker places. The punching rock rhythm takes over as the ghostly vocals enter.
The fluid like funk of ‘The Strait’ goes all psych with some sliding guitar that sounds like a trumpet at first. Realising the reality of his journey Drott faces the sad and gloomy shore called The Strait where the ‘Psychopomp’ emerge from the shadows, he is the guide of souls in the passage between the living and the dead. As crazy as his name, ‘Psychopomp’ sees the band creating sound scapes that verge on horror movie territory.
Shattered the tension from the previous track, ‘By The Lunar Lake’ is a gentler folk track that has some whistling over simple percussion and strings. The simple folk melody gives a sense of tranquility and calm. Just before ‘The Marauders’ brings back the horror with screeching industrial noises mixing with inhuman groans and deep percussion. It’s mainly a percussive piece that shows off Thormodsæter’s impressive work as the track slowly descends into madness as Drott is chased by the Marauders.
Escaping the Marauders Drott finds tranquility again with next track ‘Grey Gull’. Isdal’s impressive impressive guitar control is shown here as he allows the notes to rise and fall using the volume control to give a violin like sound. Monsen’s joins with the cello as they swap passages with some breathtaking skill.
Finally Drott passes through the ‘Arch Of Gloom’ to meet the Lord of the Underworld and final track ‘Orcus’. The judge, punisher and purificator. Arch Of Gloom is a dark jazz piece where as Orcus is more of a brooding industrial grinding from which rock guitar climbs from. Thormodsæter’s batters his drum kit into submission with some awe inspiring fills.
A mainly instrumental album and one of experimentation, as the band allows each track to build and find its own way. Often starting with a simple theme that gets repeated and extended or even completely turning on its head completely. The album is best enjoyed once the story is understood (See the end of the review). The tracks then make some sense and you can see how the band have created each track to reflect the story.
Its testament to the guys musical abilities and musical imagination that the album transmits so well to the listener. You can hear the fear when the marauders appear or the tranquility by the lunar lake. The band have crafted these soundscapes and instrumentals to tell a story which isn’t as easy as it might appear. Thats what makes this album not only interesting but enjoyable too.
Watch the band video for Arch Of Gloom, below:
“Orcus” will be available as:
- CD Digipack Trifold
- 12” Black vinyl in Gatefold
- 12” Gold vinyl in Gatefold – Limited to 100 copies, By Norse Music online stores exclusive
- 12” Milky Clear w/ Black and Gold Splatter in Gatefold – Limited to 100 copies, By Norse Music online stores exclusive
Pre-orders are available in the By Norse Music stores:
North America: bynorsestore.net
The Story as told by the band
In the realms of the dead dwells Orcus, the punisher of broken oaths in the afterlife. He is Lord in this abode for purification of the souls, the Underworld. This is the katabasis of DROTT.
Called by The Lure, DROTT is flung into the maze of Caerdroia, descending deeper and closer to the realms of Orcus. As darkness grows, DROTT grasps at every beam of light possible in Katabasis, before realizing the true nature of the journey. As DROTT faces the sad and gloomy shore called The Strait, contours of The Psychopomp emerge from the shadows, he is the guide of souls in the passage between the living and the dead. So begins the journey into Orcus.
By The Lunar Lake recalls the echoes from the past. A feeling of tranquillity and connection with the living, unaware of the Marauders lurking nearby. Escaping the savage Marauders, Grey Gull ascends, restoring tranquillity and strength before DROTT´s final descent through The Arch of Gloom. There awaits Orcus, the judge, punisher and purificator. The Lord of the Underworld.