Ultralyd: Inertiadrome
Rune Grammofon

Sounding like some unholy spawn of Last Exit, King Crimson, Public Image Limited, and Black Sabbath, Ultralyd draws upon the hallowed traditions of no wave, post-punk, free jazz, and metal-edged prog-rock (circa King Crimson's Red ) in Inertiadrome, a forty-one-minute follow-up to its 2009 vinyl-only release Renditions. Like Last Exit, Ultralyd utilizes a sax-guitar-bass-drums set-up with Kjetil Møster, Anders Hana, Kjetil D Brandsdal, and Morten J. Olsen manning the controls in this case. Formed in 2004 (original sax player Frode Gjerstad was replaced by Møster prior to the band's Rune Grammofon debut, Conditions For a Piece of Music), the band eschews conventional soloing for a relentless, single-minded attack that finds the rhythm section as front and center as the saxophonist and guitarist. On its concise new effort, the quartet presents five intrumental fireballs ranging from seven to eleven minutes that are so thunderous they'll leave you awestruck and perhaps even terror-stricken.

Driven by insistent ride cymbal rainshowers and eerie atmospherics, “Lahtuma” kicks into gear when Brandsdal's John Wetton-styled bass appears, its low-slung thrust a fitting partner for Olsen's off-beat snare strikes and the howl of Hana's splintered shards, the nine-minute whole resembling a primal Public Image Limited studio jam with Johnny Rotten AWOL. Olsen and Brandsdal lock solidly into place for the relentless drive of “Street Sex,” with Møster and Hana initially trading shrieks before the guitarist rips the tune to shreds with a barrage of violent assaults that calls to mind Last Exit's Sonny Sharrock on a particularly blistering night. While the corrosive onslaught of Hana and Olsen dominates “Contaminated Man,” Møster supercharges “Geodesic Portico” with his humongous bellow before the guitarist steps forth with a series of shuddering stabs that eventually brings the band to a lacerating boil. Møster's honk likewise jumpstarts “Cessahtlon” but it takes mere moments before the others join the fray, the drummer first and the bassist and guitarist next. On this oft-brutalizing and always-uncompromising set, Ultralyd never lets its aggressive guard down for a moment. Inertiadrome is not for the weak of heart, obviously.

February 2011