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Artist: Noxagt

Album: Noxagt

Label: Load

Review date: Aug. 11, 2006

Norway's Noxagt are familiar to some by their previous albums, particularly 2004's The Iron Point, a half-hour slab of continent-weighted metallic bombast. That Noxagt is gone. On their new, oddly self-titled album for Load, the trio has replaced viola player Nil Erga with guitarist Anders Hana, of Ultralyd. The result is not a million miles away from the past – a muscular sludge, heavy on the low end, though inevitably somewhat changed or evolved, depending on your point of view.

But I'm guilty of a journalistic sin, the lazy use of adjectives. Sure, the first impression of Noxagt is sludge, dirge, heavy pummel – no room for subtleties. But that's wrong, no two ways about it. It's slow in the way patented by the Swans some 20 years ago, but it's not in fact dirge-like. Nor is this truly sludge, if by slude we mean Splintered or the earliest Zeni Geva albums. And there's plenty of subtlety once you dig in to the proceedings, from the rhythms – which aren't nearly as straightforward as they initially seem – to the bass crunch and guitar palette.

The seven songs here are a strong, smart combination of pummelling riffage and carefully-planned changes, something like a Ruins' 45 played at 33 – or a more complex updating of Godflesh. There's a surprising amount of variety, given that it can be tricky to individualize tracks when they're instrumental and this heavy; it's nearly all deep, aggressive rock churn, dominated by smashing drums, ultra-low grinding bass and guitar that shoots off shards of distortion in all directions. The ingredients don't vary much, it's the mixture of them that maintains interest. And, wisely, Noxagt display an awareness of the listener's attention span, keeping the album at an easily-digestible 38 minutes.

Again, it's the details that matter. The opening of "Soft Sugar" spews a jagged guitar sound like beating a cat against a wall, later entering a Twilight Zone of extended space float, sci-fi guitar sounds hovering above a steady bass-drum crunch. "Coefficient Ascender" and "Satin Vengeance" exhibit Noxagt's most aggressive side, throttling and scraping their way through their lengths. "The Impious One" closes the album, a 12-minute hike through the band's bag of tricks, from pounding riffs to a nicely drawn-out drone segment wherein the guitar chimes like glass shattering, slow drums and extended bass groans pulling it along until the trio kicks back in with the expected – yet effective – cathartic release.

By Mason Jones

Other Reviews of Noxagt

Turning It Down Since 2001

The Iron Point

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