Kite – Currents Review

Let’s conduct a thought experiment: picture a noise band selling their souls to play better noise. The devil appears in a cloud of sulfur at a crossroads. He does this a lot, so he doesn’t stop to notice this particular intersection is the crux of sludge and post-hardcore. He offers the assembled musicians incomparable guitar skills in exchange for their eternal essence. “You mean like a more abrasive guitar tone?” they ask, which kind of throws him. He conjures visions of the fame and carnal pleasures awaiting if they accept his offer. They point out that they screen print their own t-shirts in the bassist’s garage and they doubt they could fill orders over 100. Besides, one of their members is ace, and The Accuser of Our Souls is being kind of a dick for implying sex is an indicator of success. Satan asks why they’re here. They want some selfies with him to post on Instagram. That way they’ll get invited to more metal festivals. Are Norway’s Kite that band? They’ve been kicking around the noisy fringes of metal since at least 2009. Were any souls exchanged prior to their sophomore full length Currents? Who could tell? All I can tell you is that I liked it, with some caveats.

Having missed their debut LP Irradiance around a year and a half ago, Currents is my introduction to Kite‘s oaky mélange of sludge and post-hardcore. Guitars trudge, scrape and twang oddly over jagged bass lines while Ryen Berg’s forceful but un-intrusive drumming holds things together. Vocalist/guitarist Ronny Flissundet has the kind of untethered but weirdly honest shriek that I’m a sucker for in my sludge, even breaking into some rather turn-of-the-millennium cleans at times, as on the title track. Different elements creep to the fore at different points. Scorching hardcore is front and center on “Murdress” and “Ravines,” while the sharp elbows of noise punk are thrown around on “Turbulence” and “Currents.” Late standout “Heroin” is a sludgy nugget of dread anchoring the album’s back half. Two-thirds of the way through, Currents slows to a harrowing crawl with the eight-plus minute “Infernal Trails,” but it doesn’t seem accurate to invoke doom as a descriptor.

Currents is more a grower than a shower. The only tracks that grab with immediacy are the title track and “Heroin,” But time with most others is rewarded. The few melodic flourishes that crop up in “Turbulence” and “Ravines” really pull those songs together, while at first blush “Ferret” is one of the least impactful tracks until the minimal, almost tender guitar melody on its surface sinks in. Don’t mistake me, this is not an overtly melodic album. It’s tense throughout and downright white knuckle for stretches. Even slow tracks “Infernal Trails” and the instrumental opener feel consistently uneasy. The post in post-hardcore is silent on much of “Murdress,” and almost every track devolves into savagery at some point. Still, there are welcome surprises, like the moog synth at the end of “Heroin.”

What appear to be flaws on the first couple spins smooth out somewhat with familiarity, like the slow burn of “Infernal Trails,” but Currents‘ weakest points can still be found at its bookends. Intro track “Idle Lights” Does its slow, repetitive build thing for a full four and a half minutes and still doesn’t connect to the first proper song in any meaningful way. “Unveering Static” closes the album on an unmemorable note, and had it been cut, the album would have been stronger going out on “Heroin.” Besides, 50 minutes is a lot for this type of album. Still, both tracks at least consistently carry the sound and atmosphere Kite build in their better moments, so the overall impact of Currents isn’t blunted much.

Whether or not Mephistopheles puts his thumb on the scales of fortune when it comes to bands like Kite, it likely wouldn’t matter much. People who like jagged noise and hardcore-inflected sludge will enjoy Currents and flock by the, uh, dozens to the local VFW, or whatever the Norwegian equivalent is, to see them ply their trade. Meanwhile, a good many metalheads will probably turn their noses up at them, but they’re part of a vital niche in heavy music, and if you’re into that niche, Kite does it right.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Majestic Mountain Records
Websites: kitenorway.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/kitenorway
Releases Worldwide: Oct 8th, 2021

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