tue 05/12/2023

CD: Hedvig Mollestad Trio - Black Stabat Mater | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Hedvig Mollestad Trio - Black Stabat Mater

CD: Hedvig Mollestad Trio - Black Stabat Mater

An unforgettable encounter with Norway’s sinuous rock-jazz riff machine

Hedvig Mollestad Trio's 'Black Stabat Mater': it has to be listened to as an album

Thirty-three minutes is not long for an album. What actually counts is not length but what is said and its impact. Norway’s Hedvig Mollestad Trio know what they are doing and over Black Stabat Mater’s 33 minutes they do it with such clarity, force and panache there is no need to say any more. This is exactly what an album should be: a coherent statement.

The title is a feint. Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s fourth album does not sound like Black Sabbath. There are guitar riffs: heavy, pounding, pulsing riffs. They employ a one-string style similar to the soloing of Sabbath’s Tony Iommi. But Mollestad’s carborundum-hard playing is sinuous, snakey and eschews space between the notes: nothing like Black Sabbath’s trademark guitar style. It is rock, though, jazz-derived instrumental rock with a heaviness and precision which could inspire head-banging. Yet Ellen Brekken’s bass and Ivar Loe Bjørnstad’s drums share a swing which ensures that forward momentum takes sharp turns while still hurtling onwards.

This has to be listened to as an album. One track bleeds into the next, each laying the table for the other. It seems to be a concept album about coming face-to-face with a reckoning. “Approaching” is followed by “Arrival” and “In the Court of the Trolls”. A confrontation with Black Stabat Mater may not be as edgy as encountering a gathering of trolls, but it is similarly unforgettable.

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