They're not quite a supergroup, but they come close. Scorch Trio are guitarist Raoul Bjorkenheim, bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. The rhythm section are two of the brightest stars on the Nordic jazz scene with a work rate to rival Sly and Robbie's, while Bjorkenheim's CV includes stints with Edward Vesala, Bill Laswell and his own Krakatau.
This is the second album from the trio (the first came out in 2002), and as the opening "Kjøle Høle" roars out of the traps you're in little doubt that this is going to be an intense forty seven minutes. Nudging the meters into the red from the word go, Bjorkenheim spits out fiery, overdriven bursts worthy of John McLaughlin circa the first Lifetime record, while bass and drums generate a rich, detailed thrash that eventually coalesces into edgy riffing. Bjorkenheim's intelligence and passion means that he avoids mere heroics; his playing is spiky, intense, yet capable of gorgeous, if slightly bleak lyricism.
Twelve minutes later things get spacier as prepared guitar, grainy double bass and ghostly percussives construct a lo-fi surrealist gamelan. Ho hum. But "Brennj Fynnj" gets us back in the zone as Haker Flaten's fat double bass thrums prod Bjorkenheim into a spindly, aching solo. Here the band's loose, graceful improv recalls the first Gateway record. Lovely.
"Snaekje Rojnd Naevinj" almost enters post-rock territory, as Bjorkenhim coaxes distorted slurs from an electric viola di gamba over a sustained snare roll and gently meandering electric bass or two. We go out with the meters well in the red with the boiling jazz/metal of the title track.
The unadorned production style emphasises the immediate, in-yer-face impact of this music, though the slightly odd stereo placement of the instruments doesn't work so well under headphones. This is music that pushes a lot of air around. So remove any pets and/or elderly relatives from the room, and TURN IT UP...