Netra: Sørbyen

Why the delay in the Sparrow reviews?  Are those guys a bunch of lazy punks around here or what?  Get with it.  In our defense, blame this album.  Sørbyen is one of the strangest things we’ve ever received, and that’s saying a ton because we’re used to it weird around here.  But Netra has crossed that line, about a million times in seventy minutes.  After his debut in 2010, he returned with this beautiful thing that combines so many genres we’re about to sound like foppish prick critics.  But, here goes, mix black metal with jazz, electronic, shoegaze, industrial, EBM, Goth, trip-hop, some ambient, and like fifty more genres to blow all other pompous prick critics out of the water, and you still won’t have the amount of “what in the…” that you’re going to find in Sørbyen.  But, unlike some releases of this nature we’ve seen over the past few years, Netra has created an album that encapsulates and finds an organic flow in spite of the sheer number of directions taken.  It’s not a perfect release, but it’s a ‘grower’ unlike any grower you’ve ever encountered.  Most growers you listen to once, twice, maybe a third time and then your brain reaches this strange realization where “eh, whatever, nothing else to listen to” becomes your mantra for the evening.  Sørbyenhowever, as a grower doesn’t just grow, it becomes a mammontine giant sequoia, and its roots burrow deep into your emotional center and keeps you there, forever.




There’s literally too much for us to go over in this one, so it’s probably best to take a sampling via the Bandcamp tracks above.  The amount of experimentation and boundary breaking in this album is amazing, but somehow, when it feels like it’s going to drop, it all makes sense.  It has a general sense of ‘depression’ lurking around each alteration in sound, with acoustics, blast beat anguish, piano, raw feedback, and basically everything else you could think of combined in this virulent looking paste that tastes delicious.  One of the great things about Sørbyen is you have absolutely no way of knowing, none, where Netra is going to go next with each song.  Every track is its own thing, but somehow all linked together, which in itself requires a bit of praise, because it’s not easy to do.  Hypnotic Dirge Records has been known for releasing the eclectic and odd, but this may be the most unique album in their release history, no joke, nope.  It requires a serious mind, and time, to figure it out, but once you do you should find it entirely enjoyable.


But this isn’t to say it’s not without some fault.  Sørbyen takes awhile to grow on you, specifically because there are several sections that sound downright blah at first listen, but once the general approach is grasped by the listener, which might take you three times to fully understand, all of these moments somehow come together.  However, it can be said that Netra has possibly done too much in his genre cramming with this release, so much that it might be completely inaccessible to most listeners.  We around here like being challenged, but sometimes there’s a certain level of accessibility that needs to be present as well, and it’s what makes a great artist spectacular.  However, Netra clearly has the ability to get there.  Sørbyen is a highly unique listen, not for the weakling nuub underground fan who just discovered Immortal last week.  Don’t go from that to this, you’re really not ready for it.  For those of you with more experience who want to hear something new with metal, by all means give it a shot, you’ll find it something you’ll recommend in the future, but with the same commentary we’ve presented above.


Netra Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Netra: Sørbyen
Hypnotic Dirge Records
4 / 5