Operating out of Djura Missionshus, their home studio in the deconsecrated church in rural Sweden where they live with their two children, Årabrot is the iconic duo of vocalist/guitarist Kjetil Nernes and his wife, vocalist/keyboardist Karin Park.
As Roadburn Festival's Becky Laverty writes: "Kjetil Nernes has been the core and the constant of Årabrot, and for some time now another heart has beat alongside his in perfect
unison. A partner in life, love and music, Karin Park has contributed to Årabrot to varying degrees for ten years, and on Of Darkness and Light her presence is both solidified and
With its origins going back 20 years now, Årabrot's list of achievements is long: collaborating with fellow innovators Stephen O'Malley and Lustmord; working with such producers as Steve Albini and Billy Anderson; winning a Norwegian Grammy. Nernes also has the distinction of being diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014 and making a full recovery.
Through all this, the sound has been in a perpetual state of flux. With the early material traversing the roughest edges of The Birthday Party and Swans, and with inspiration taken from esoteric sources – "fin-de-siècle decadence, surrealism and even a pinch of old German philosophy to boot," in Nernes' words – each release has seen more and more risks taken.
The band's friend and collaborator Lustmord has written: "Born of the long dark winters of Norway, Årabrot was too black for metal and too avant-garde for punk, so it forged its own
path... It is The Velvet Underground if Johnny Cash was a member and Nico was able to sing. It is Camus, Sartre, Poe and Burroughs, cut-up and regurgitated in an unholy erotic
As Laverty puts it: "The last two decades have seen Årabrot shapeshift through multiple iterations; they’ve tried on different shapes and sizes, encompassed different moods and explored the outer reaches of various genres and yet never sounded less than entirely themselves."
In recent years, Årabrot's winding path has led toward absolute rock and roll perfection. In 2021, NPR's Lars Gotrich noted that the band was transforming “from AmRep bulldozer noise-rock into a cathedral-shaking rock-and-roll powerhouse" – and this transformation is fully realized now on the upcoming new album, Of Darkness and Light.
Of Darkness and Light bursts with infectious melodies and shines with the massive production of Alain Johannes, whose work on Mark Lanegan's 2020 album, Straight Songs of Sorrow, won over Nernes, and who, as a musician, has performed with the likes of PJ Harvey and Them Crooked Vultures. With Johannes at the helm, Of Darkness and Light was recorded entirely at Djura Missionshus, a.k.a. The Church of Årabrot – the first album to be recorded entirely in the church.
Theatrical, bombastic, dancing on the line between the macabre and the comical, Of Darkness and Light is, among other things, a celebration of the hooks and swagger and almighty power of rock. The Birthday Party and Swans are still references, yes, but so are Queens of the Stone Age and Ghost. Fittingly, the album’s title references Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, a philosophical text centered on transcending our own limitations.
Of the new single, "You Cast Long Shadows," Park states: "Kjetil was asked to write a song for Sebastian Bach’s new album. We weren’t too schooled up on Sebastian Bach to be honest, but Kjetil thought it would be interesting to write a grungy Crowleyan occult murder ballad. He spent a few days in the studio and wrote two demos which were both immediately rejected by Sebastian Bach’s management. One of the demos was 'You Cast Long Shadows.' It’s probably a better fit for Årabrot anyway!’
Most importantly, make a point to see Årabrot live, in the flesh. As Laverty writes: "Årabrot comes gloriously into their own in a live setting, with Kjetil holding court with liturgical flamboyance whilst Karin gives herself over to a hypnotic rhythm of their own making. The pair are most electrifying to witness when performing; their symbiotic devotion is palpable as they perform in the clothes they were married in. Rest assured, as long as there is breath in their bodies, this pair will be found preaching rock and roll under the neon-lit Årabrot cross."