In conspiracy with Duplicate Records, Nuclear War Now! is reissuing the first three Virus (Norway) albums Carheart, The Black Flux and The Agent that Shapes the Desert, on the vinyl format. As a somewhat distant but still closely musically-related descendant of Ved Buens Ende, the music of Virus bears a somewhat more striking similarity to Nothingface-era Voivod than it does its black metal antecedent. With its generous reliance on an almost mechanized sequencing of dissonant chords and riffs, in confluence with a predominantly bass-driven backdrop, Virus draws an unmistakable influence from Voivod's more experimental, post-thrash period.
At the same time, these recordings exude a darkness that also resembles the prominent involvement of the band's mastermind, Czral, in Ved Buens Ende, whose vision of black metal already contained traces of a genre-breaking evolution in the mid-1990s. The combination of these influences results in a series of recordings that straddle the boundary between second-wave black metal and one of its early offshoots.
Whereas its predecessor, The Black Flux, was a dense maelstrom that threatened to pull you under, The Agent That Shapes The Desert is dry, sharp, and refined. It combines the dissonant guitar-washes of mastermind Czral's former band Ved Buens Ende and The Black Flux with the outlandish nature of the band's Carheart debut, while simultaneously moving in several new directions at once. At the same time, The Agent... is the band's most coherent, catchy, and well-produced effort yet, and should appeal to music addicts across a vast spectrum of genres.
Czral's trademark sideways riffs are perfectly underscored by the concise, efficient drumming of Einz and Bjeima's adventurous bass lines. The vocals, also courtesy of Czral, are stronger than ever, at times reminiscent of a choir of mad preachers, at others subtle and brooding, giving off an air of desperation.