Released via Loyal Blood Records on Friday 17 March 2023.
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Søstre is the Norwegian word for ‘sisters’. Søstre is also an experimental black ‘n’ roll four-piece from Bergen, Norway, founded in 2018. There are clearly elements of metal, black metal, rock ‘n’ roll, psychedelia, punk, stoner rock and grunge, as well as more experimental influences fused into these dark melodies. Lyrically, their songs explore concepts like altered states of mind, black magic, the past and future.
The album opens with “Svart magi” / “Black magic” (track 1) which is an experimental, atmospheric track built around a female voice reciting something in Norwegian.
This is soon left in the dust with the immediate and captivating title track “Søstre” / “Sisters” (track 2) which couples a dark, black metal sound and harsh vocals with a rock ‘n’ roll sensibility. It’s an oddly satisfying and effective combination. Which is just as well as that’s what most of the album comprises.
“Jernskogmøy” / “Iron forest meadow” (track 3) is another upbeat track that you can’t fail but nod your head along to. “Ensomt rite” / “Lonely rite (track 4) rumbles like a runaway train that twists and turns never quite settling on the rails. If it wasn’t for the decidedly classic metal riff “Hagen er i skyggen” / “The garden is in the shadow” (track 5) would be drifting more towards a more traditional black metal song than any of the songs so far.
The following few songs forge their own paths. “Psykonaut” / “Psychonaut” (track 6) ticks along like a crazy clock returning at regular intervals to explore the central riff and see where it takes us this time around. The short “Fucking lift-off” (track 7) holds echoes of Celtic Frost’s space exploration song “One in their pride”. And while the song stops short of lift off, “En Romainder” / “? A Romain” (track 8) ably takes its place, launching with a ferocity that soon orbits a pleasing groove.
On the far side of the album, “Flokken” / “The herd” (track 9) rounds up everything we’ve learned about the band so far into a jolly romp of a song. The short, spooky and experimental “En misforstått tanke” / “A misunderstood thought” (track 10) sounds like it uses something like a prepared piano for its creepy tones. And “Kausalitet” / “Causality” (track 11) adds a bit of dissonance to the main riff which lifts it towards an almost Rammstein feel. Søstre could so easily have rested back on their regular formulas, so it’s nice to see some innovation so late in the album.
Album closer “Liek” / “Play” (track 12) kicks off with a pleasing bass groove around which the rest of the band riffs. This sounds like a song played for the sake of simply playing something fun. It’s an upbeat conclusion to a pretty decent album.
While I wasn’t immediately blown away by this album, I did keep returning to it. There is something decidedly more-ish about this collection of tunes. The layers of melodies and influences, the intriguing Norwegian language, the dark melodies play with such exuberance. Yeah… this album has definitely grown on me.
Review score: 80%
Viral Propaganda contacted me inviting me to preview Søstre’s forthcoming album, thank you. I have no connections to either Viral Propaganda or Søstre . I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Viral Propaganda, and to Søstre for continuing to create fresh, exciting music