Carpathian Forest
Strange Old Brew

Are Carpathian Forest the only remaining truly cool black metal band from Norway or what? They were around during the outset of the Norwegian black metal, but it took them years to finally release their debut album. When they did, ironically or not, most of their second wave peers have changed well beyond recognition. This is their second album and the third one is already on the way, but what's the poor boy to do in the wake of the metamorphosis that most of the original pack went through?

On "Mask of the Slave," without further ado Carpathian Forest simply proclaimed "Something never changes. Something never will." Sure, I've taken these words out of the song's context, but I think they summarize, at least partially, the current attitude of this band. A number of the faster songs such as "Suicide Song," "Martyr/Sacrificulum" or the overly thrashy and just as enjoyable bonus track "He's Turning Blue" have an old Mayhem (circa "Deathcrush") feel not to mention the mandatory Celtic Frost vibe to them, while the slow tracks like "Thanatology" or "Cloak of Midnight" are totally doomy in scope. Some people might find such disparity to be incoherent, unnerving. I think it's great. In addition, and unlike virtually all of their Norwegian peers, Carpathian Forest possess this uncanny weird/perverted/insane streak (surely you know what I am talking about), which is also well reflected in the lyrics and only adds to the band's appeal. "House of the Whipcord" is a keyboards/whispers/tenor saxophone!! (very jazzy too) collage and a fucking cool and haunting one at that. And besides, how can you not love a band who include a cover of a theme music from the classic NEKROMANTIK movie (Jorg Buttgereit is indeed the death king of movie making; see all of his films).

"Strange Old Brew." What kind of a name is that for a black metal album anyway, eh? If you dissect this phrase word by word, it starts to make more sense. Strange - Carpathian Forest certainly have a thing for strangeness; see the aforementioned "House of Whipcord" as well as "The Good Old Enema Treatment." Old - there is a great deal of old school influence also mentioned above. Brew - the band shows that they are not quite a one trick pony, but like to mingle different ingredients (weird stuff, doomy stuff, black metal stuff). So if it isn't Strange Old Brew, what is it I ask you? Exactly, a cool album from a cool bunch of sickos. Get it. And if you don't have "Black Shining Leather," get it too.

2000 boris