Norn – “BÖRN: Vltima Permonvm Conea” (2015)

nornlpfrontOnce upon a time, on a small island bobbing about in the northern Atlantic Ocean, there were two bands that both went by the name of Norn, the Icelandic word for “witch.”  One played punk; the other, black metal.  People became confused.  Chaos reigned.  Punk and metal fans eyed one another warily.  It was a dark time.

Then the punk band known as Norn figured it was just easier to change their name.  So they did, to the similar sounding (but with a very different meaning) Börn, which means “children.”  The sun rose again over smokey bay and all was right with the world, and all the punks and metalloids lived happily ever after.

I’ve written a fair amount about Börn who put out a full-length album in 2014 and a 7″ earlier this year (I even wrote about the tape they released when they were still named Norn HERE).  But I’d never heard the other Norn, the black metal one.  Well, that changed when I found a copy of their relatively new LP BÖRN: Vltima Permonvm Conea.  Originally this was released as a cassette by the Icelandic metal label Vanagandr, but this title also got the vinyl treatment, which worked out for me because somehow I never got around to buying the tape.

BÖRN: Vltima Permonvm Conea is less atmospheric and more musical than what I’m generally used to hearing in my black metal, plus they make use of some audio/vocal sampling here and there, which is also a bit different.  There are elements of punk, grindcore, and even electronic music here, as well as few moments that can best be described as acoustic.  If you’re a black metal purist you probably won’t be happy by all this extra stuff, but as someone with only a very general interest in extreme metal I find it all combines to make Norn very  listenable and, more importantly, very enjoyable.

The entire thing is available HERE for your listening pleasure.

Norn – “Norn” (cassette)

As I mentioned in a couple of earlier posts, a couple of months ago I got a box of Icelandic goodness from my friends over at Reykjavik’s Paradísarborgarplötur label.  They were the ones who sent me the Fighting Shit CDs, Ofvitarnir’s Steven Hawking / Stephen Tyler, and boatload of other stuff.  Including a couple of cassettes.  Which I ordered even though I had no way to play them.  Which forced me to go out and buy an old Technics bookshelf stereo with a tape deck in it.  You know.  So I could play my tapes and stuff.

In the event you don’t have a tape deck, don’t despair.  While you really should support this small indie label and buy a copy of Norn for all of 500 kr (that’s about $4.25 US, kids) plus shipping, the label also generously offers the whole six song album for free download at their website HERE.  But really, just go there and buy some stuff from them.  Help a brother out and support some guys that are doing some cool stuff.

norntape1

As you can see Norn is more than just a six-song EP.  It’s more than just a cassette.  It’s a bit of an art project in and of itself.  And yes, I took the picture right side up so that the case opens on the right side… the cross is supposed to be upside down.  I’m not sure what the black stuff is on the cover, but it’s seems like some kind of paint.  Which makes sense, since cassette itself is also painted (red, as you can see).  Inside a paper insert is unceremoniously skewered into the bottom, featuring a drawing of some dude on fire and a track listing on the reverse.  Like I said, the packaging itself is a bit of an artistic statement.  Admit it.  Just looking at this kind of makes you want to listen to find out what this band is all about.

norntape2

Norn is another Þórir Georg project, one that resembles his work with Ofvitarnir a bit.  The sound is echoey – it sounds like it was recorded in some abandoned warehouse somewhere, with everyone standing kind of far away from the machine that was recording them.  It’s strained.  It’s noisy.  It feels just a little disorganized, but the chords are very basic and relentless, so it stays together.  Georg’s The voice strains to get through the ten feet of gauze the microphone must be wrapped in.  Or maybe it’s inside a big metal can, which would explain the metallic edge that everything has.  And I don’t mean metallic like heavy metal; I mean like it’s wrapped up in foil or something.

“Myrkur” is my favorite track here, with it’s repetitive, out front bass line that holds the song together until Georg takes the vocals and electricity in his guitar and turns them both up, giving a cracking intensity before the song drops back down to just the rhythm section and that bass line again.  The most unique song is “Tenerife,” if for no other reason that its 10 minute run time is more than twice as long as anything else on Norn.  It starts off like a post-punk Gun Club song before going off into a weird Black Sabbath-esque psych instrumental freak show for a while, coming back to some quick vocals right at the very end.

Norn has actually been rechristened BÖRN, since apparently there’s some black metal band out there also going by Norn, but more importantly it sounds like we’ll be getting a new BÖRN album some time in 2014.  I’m not sure what format it will be on, or if it will be a full album or something shorter, but I’ll definitely be on the lookout for it and will try to pick up a copy when I’m at Airwaves.

Norn.  Check ’em out.  It’s free!

JULY 17, 2014 CORRECTION –>  So apparently I am an idiot, as Þórir Georg is NOT the vocalist on this.  And in fact, the singer is a woman!  Ha!  So I messed up, but instead of just correcting this and pretending it didn’t happen, I’m leaving it up with some strikethroughs as a monument to my idiocy.