The subtlety of Norselaw

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I want my money back. Or, barring that, I want one of those memory wipes from “Total Recall.”

 
Normally, I’m up for listening to most types of music, except for country. Pirate metal? Sure thing, bring it on. A capella? I’ll give it a try. And, on the recommendation of a friend, I listened to Viking metal/rap group Norselaw, and their album “Sweet Home Scandinavia.”

 
I regret that decision so much. After opening up the album on Spotify, I thought it would be something like the pirate metal I had previously listened to. Granted, the album cover should have probably tipped me off, but I persevered.

 
The first song I listened to made me laugh uncontrollably, due to the sheer awfulness. “Viking Rap” opened like an unholy mix of an early 90s kids show on Nickelodeon and Vanilla Ice. If you’ve ever seen a tape of some DJ scratching a record, then you have a vague idea of what this song was like.

 
What followed after the opening volley of awful to my ears was the growling “rap” of the first verse. It sounded like someone gargling cigarettes, gravel and cheap whiskey while simultaneously trying to dazzle me with their lyrical brilliance. The actual result was me sitting in dazed confusion, laughing at the ridiculousness with tears streaming out of my eyes.

 
The chorus consisted entirely of one of the “singers” chanting, “Viking! Viking rap!” on repeat, drawing out the rap for an excessively long time. This was followed by, “Go Viking, go Viking, go.” If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought this was a Minnesota Vikings fan chanting, rather than a horrible attempt at music.

 
Despite the horrendous beginning, I thought the album might get better. So, like a fool, I powered through, already making a mental note to call a therapist after I was done listening. But, unfortunately, it didn’t get better. Instead, it just got steadily worse.

 
As a child, I remember my parents telling me that I could be anything I wanted when I grew up. This album had me thinking that maybe the parents of these band members should have told them they could be anything but musicians. I admire the effort behind this and the subsequent two albums, I really do. But maybe, at some point, someone should have told these guys to stop.

 
The rest of the album is filled with hits such as “Euronymous and Varg,” “Myths of Midgard,” “The Hammerfall” and the eye-catching “Sweet Home Scandinavia.” And out of all of those, if I had to pick a least terrible, I would have to go with “Euronymous and Varg.”

 
A heavy bass note opened the song and it kind of sounded like an electric drum. It sounded vaguely drum-like, but in an unnatural and electronic way. The scratching record sound barged into the song with all of the subtlety and grace of a charging hippo.

 
When the lyrics did come in, it was the same voice as before, still all growly and rough sounding. If at all possible, they sounded more nonsensical than before, detailing an apparent fight between the titular characters. That’s what I took away from the song, not necessarily what actually happened.

 
After that, the songs sort of blended together, until all the life and hope of ever hearing good music was drained from my body. Mustering the last of my strength, I managed to hit the pause button and free myself from this self-inflicted torture.

 
The biggest thing that stood out to me from the midst of this affront to good music was that it sounded like somebody made this whole album in Garage Band. But not in a good sort of way, more in a bleeding ears sort of way.

 
Clearly these “artists” — and I use that word incredibly loosely — didn’t read any sort of instruction manual, because these songs sounded like someone was just throwing in musical effects for the hell of it.

 
For instance, on “Sweet Home Scandinavia,” they took the iconic guitar riff from the Lynyrd Skynyrd song and somehow made it sound awful. Then, for good measure, they threw in that weird electric drum and some snares, until this song was the musical equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster.

 
They then replaced any references to Alabama with references to the “Northland” and other such abominations, all of the while singing in a hoarse voice that resembled someone with laryngitis trying to relay a message over a long distance via shouting.

 
And to top off this horrendous waste of my time and brain cells, the album cover is just dreadful. Look up the poster for “21 Jump Street,” starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Now put those actors in front of a house, slap some Viking helmets on them and rip off their sleeves, while filling the air around them with flames that wouldn’t look out of place on the side of a van.

 
That is the horrendous band of Norselaw, and the soundtrack to my nightmares for the next 30 years.

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