Sunday, June 27, 2010

Skogen – Vittra (Frostcald Records)

Not everything that I get is entirely brand new, as this was released in Fall 2009 I believe, but given that it’s Frostcald and I just got it, and not too many probably know about it, it’s safe to say that it’s new.

One of many things that strike debate amongst black metal artists and listeners is whether or not atmospheric black metal and symphonic black metal are watered down and weak forms of the style/s. Many say, “Yes” and rightfully so when looking at the history and influence of: Mayhem, Darkthrone, Immortal, older Emperor, Beherit, Hellhammer, Bathory, Marduk, Dissection, Venom, and countless others along with slightly newer and current acts like: Profanatica, Deathspell Omega, Inquisition, Horna, Perversor…. half of the Hells Headbangers catalog at least. But I say, "no", and rightfully so, because many of the previous mentioned bands influenced and developed into that genre and incorporated ambient, shoe-gaze (I hate that Fucking term)/instrumental walls of chords and some synth to create an atmosphere or mood, synth, nature/filed recordings, and so forth to crank up the dynamics and drama within the work, and WORK it did.

Skogen is a prime example for the trial and debate of legitimacy of certain styles of Black Metal, as this Swedish monstrosity has all of the brutal and melodic feeling of Viking era Bathory starting with “Blood Fire Death” through “Blood on Ice”, “Hammerheart” and the “Nordland” series. Aside from the thrash mastery and rebellious fury of early Bathory, Quorthon also evolved as an artist to using: acoustic/classical guitar passages, clean pagan vocals, and epic, almost cinematic backgrounds in his most influential and remarkable works. Just as Bathory brought you into the deepest halls of Hell, you were also transported back to myths and legends of ancient northern Europe with all the bloodshed and triumphs, and all through the atmospherics in the music. Skogen is just as cold, articulate, convincing and melodic in the use of the “weaker” elements, the result is 1000 magnitudes stronger than many bands trying to attempt this sound of folk/pagan/atmospherics.

So in a nutshell you get the idea, this album is as thrilling and glorious as: pagan era Bathory, Summoning, Hellveto, Windir type atmospheric bands. The description given by the label is vague but honest and recommends this release to fans of: Drudkh, Ulver, Primordial. I agree but would say more so: Finnr’s Cane, Summoning, Drautran, Helrunar, Blut Aus Nord, Windir, Kampfar, but those are also my own personal picks for atmospheric and pagan black metal.

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