Noxagt

Noxagt

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Going for the self-titled approach this time around -- and with an underwear model on the cover to boot, though presumably Calvin Klein wasn't involved -- Noxagt's 2006 album shows the trio once again wedded to a core proposition: there's no such thing as too loud, too doom-laden, and too dramatic. Admittedly, any number of acts can claim that, but Noxagt's instrumental/free jazz-tinged focus has its own distinct power, and from the grinding stop-start opening of "Histrionix" the trio finds a majesty more overblown bands can't capture with three times the members. That said, there is a major change from 2004's The Iron Point, with Nils Erga replaced by Anders Hana (of Ultralyd), who takes over on spring-loaded guitar from Erga's viola. The result may make Noxagt sound more conventional, but Hana's blasts are anything but easy listening, as the scraping, compressed riffs on "Soft Sugar" make perfectly clear, but the keening, moaning textures later in the song show further depths to his playing. Meanwhile, the opening riff of "Coefficient Ascender" is pure metal in excelsis (and it doesn't need an art degree to qualify). Kjetil Brandsdal's bass remains the sometimes slashing, sometimes quietly rumbling core of the group, and with Jan Christian Lauritzen's drumming the result is a portentous rhythm section -- high praise, since the pair's not obvious still-present fluidity is well matched by teeth-grinding power, as easily heard throughout but particularly on "Ninety Parallels Ago" and during a great break on "Satin Vengeance." Meanwhile, ending the album with its longest and arguably most extreme song, entitled "The Impious One," is as perfect as can be had, at least without directly invoking the Dark Lord himself.

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