Why Virus might be black metal's most enigmatic band
"Our band is a playground"
Rising from the ashes of Ved Buens Ende – one of the more forward-thinking bands to emerge from Norway’s black metal scene in the 90s – at the beginning of the millennium, Virus have since made their name gleefully blurring genres and defying categorisation. Confidently debuting in 2003 with the Carheart album, they presented a unique musical vision whose dissonant, hectic and perplexing nature aptly complemented the curious vehicular and canine-related musing of their lyrics. Perhaps unsurprisingly, eccentricity has remained a keyword for the group ever since, the masterful Carl-Michael ‘Czral’ Eide – also active within Aura Noir, and a past contributor to such name acts as Cadaver, Dødheimsgard and even (once upon a time) Ulver and Satyricon – carving out a niche with the assistance of drummer Einar Sjursø (also known for his work in Beyond Dawn and Infernö) and bassist Petter ‘Plenum’ Berntsen (of Audiopain and Manimalism).
With an arsenal of dense, twitchy, technical and intense songs, the band continued to confuse and elate on both 2008’s The Black Flux and 2011’s The Agent That Shapes The Desert. The absence of Petter on the latter, however, would slow the band’s progress considerably and the band went relatively quiet after their last release, 2012’s Oblivion Clock EP. Thankfully, they are now very much back, their brand new album, Memento Collider, proving that there is plenty of life in the old dog yet. It’s arguably their liveliest work to date, the three original members having reunited to create a driving and surprisingly catchy opus.
“I think Petter’s leaving absolutely did affect things,” begins Carl-Michael. “He is sort of the motor that drives this forward and we knew when he quit that we had a huge problem and that it would be impossible to replace him. We tried… and it worked so-so. I think he is more important to the band than even we knew and now that he has come back with even more zest than ever it’s really lifted the band, both as a constellation of people, and as a musical thing. He quit during a period of his life where he had to work all the time. It took a while to lure him back… Well, it didn’t take that much actually; he heard the demo of one of the songs and liked it, so we invited him back!”