Wednesday, August 31
Tuesday, August 30
Monday, August 29
Taking the listener back to darkened medieval times, Svartsot invite the listener on a juxtaposing journey of the lyrically somber theme of the Black Death in Denmark mixed with their brand of mostly cheerful folk-death metal. Released only 14 months after the lackluster Mulmets Viser, there was skepticism as to whether this material would follow suit, but the band have greatly improved in their sound, even if the formula of folk-infused death metal with low growls and traditional instruments is getting a little worn.
Frederiksen, as the only remaining original band member, has done well in preserving the Svartsot “feel” in his roles as guitarist, lyricist and composer. The sound has barely changed since Ravnenes Saga, but what has changed is the integration of the 'folk' instruments in the metal, rather than polarized opposites, such as in “Om Jeg Lever Kveg” (If I Survive My Cattle) and “Dødedansen” (Dance Of The Dead) where the bodhrán, mandolin and whistles' melodies interweave with the distorted leads and rhythm, with the unflinching drum patterns holding the structure down. Despite vocal changes, Bager bears similarities to Gnudtzmann in his Johan Hegg-like grunts and rasps that are made incomprehensible by both his delivery and choice of native language over English. As a result, any non-Danish-speaker automatically focuses on the music over the lyrics, hearing a mix of Amorphis and slower Equilibrium with a pristine production, a marked improvement over previous efforts.
The band takes a very interesting turn on “Spigrene” (Spears), with a very stripped down acoustic sound and low cleans (I assume provided by Bager), sounding more akin to a campfire song and would have been an interesting closer, were it not for the actual more mediocre closer of “...Og Lander Ligger Så Øde Hen” (...And The Land Lay Barren), which is a good song but a reminder of the by-now tired formula. The strongest songs are ultimately the ones that stick out most from the formula; “Spigrene” aside, this leaves “Holdt Ned Af En Tjørn” (Kept Down By A Thorn) and “Den Forgængelige Tro” (The Fading Faith) to hold up the flag for the rest of the album.
All in all, Maledictus Eris is not a bad album per se but hardly going to rock the already-brimming folk-metal bandwagon led by Eluveitie, Equilibrium, Moonsorrow. It is certainly an improvement on Mulmets Viser, and perhaps the variations in the formula will result in a differing album again next time around.
Angel's rating: 3.5/5
*Song translations provided by the wonderful photographer Tora Aarum.
Sunday, August 28
Update: I kind of forgot there was a bonus disc with an additional six songs, so let me say a few words on that as well. The two single cuts of "Robin Hood" and "Two Out Of Seven" are useless, and the Slade-cover "Cum On Feel The Noize" is irrelevant after the superior Quiet Riot-version. The main attractions here are the extremely catchy "God Fallen Silent," which could've replaced a number of inferior songs on the main album and the Hammond-organ-overloaded "Aleister Crowley Memorial Boogie", which is also interesting enough to deserve better than bonus track-status. The "Rocket Ride"-leftover "Standing In The Rain" doesn't and makes some of the extra material on the "Lost In Space"-EPs seem look very good. Worth the few extra bucks for the first two songs, the rest is kind of bland and superficial.
Wednesday, August 24
VII: Född Förlorare
Black metal is a tricky thing. I have started to realize that it is very much like modern art in the way that, either you get it, or you don’t. One black metal band may have a tremendous effect on someone, while another band would have none, just as modern art effects people. Luckily enough for me, I found this album to be fascinating!
Shining is a Swedish black metal band, that is really making its mark in the scene. This is, as the title may give away, their seventh album, and my first experience with them. However, this sounds like a seventh album, it’s very mature, well thought out and all around fantastic. Instead of falling victim to the tight constrains of the black metal genre, Shining has a different take on the style.
The riffs are actual riffs, not the tremolo picking galore, the drums have interesting patterns, not just blast beats, and the vocals growl, shriek, and pull out a bit of singing from time to time, to keep it interesting. Acoustic guitars also make a few appearances, and they add a real reflexive feel they appear. Probably the best thing about this album is the fact that there are guitar solos! Yes a black metal band with guitar solos. I never thought I would see the day. They do use them sparingly however, as there are only two or three on the album. They follow the golden rule of solos: Only solo when it fits the song. Too many bands are infected with an unnecessary-solo-addiction, but Shining show a level of finesse when it comes to their solos. The drums sounded very good here, very natural, but still powerful.
Apparently, this band is famous for their extremely depressing lyrics. However, this didn’t affect me in the least, as I don’t speak Swedish. But if you do, and you don’t like depressive lyrics, check them out before buying.
This band brings the general atmosphere of black metal, with an increased level of musicianship and maturity than the average hordes of bands. This is what black metal strives to be.
Claus’ Rating 4.25/5