(Peaceville, March 2015)
9.5/10 – review by Antti Mikonmäki
Since 1995, Dødheimsgard has delivered one of my all time absolute favourite Norwegian Black Metal masterpieces. “Kronet Til Konge” was a straightforward and quite primitive album despite some of it’s calmer and more beautiful avant-garde elements, yet showed clear signs of unusual and original creative ideas compared to the bands of those times copying Darkthrone or similar acts. “Monumental Possession” hit the spot when the Black Thrash phenomenon was apparent, containing some of the catchiest riffs and insane chaotic bursts of the genre, while showing the same originality and psychedelia to be later found in all of the band’s releases.
After the insane intensity of “Satanic Art”, many people growing up as teens during the early and mid-nineties Black Metal culture started to dive into different kinds of musical waters, including Electronic music, which was the perfect time for the Norwegian bands to show their experimental natures in their art, which showed mostly in albums like “666 International”, an album still copied and wondered by many in it’s vast display of ideas and different styles. After it was announced Bjørn “Aldrahn” Dencker would not be performing on “Supervillain Outcast”, expectations (or fears) among the fans regarding the performance of the new vocalist Khvost were great. Although he did make a fine job filling Aldrahn’s boots, there was still something missing on the album of the Dødheimsgard-feelings of the past. Nevertheless, the album was fantastic again musically, raising wonder and high expectations on the future material from the hands of the main songwriter Vicotnik, a man known to give to you what you might least expect. Now, after the vocalist extraordinarie Aldrahn has returned in the band, and we have waited about 8 years for this new album, it’s time to dive in the extreme creative fantastic madness that is Dødheimsgard once more.
The album starts with a Glitchy Electronic intro, “The Love Divine”, after which we get into business with “Aphelion Void”, charging forward in a similar way “Vendetta Assassin” did on the previous album. The fierce blasting of Terghl backs Vicotnik’s furious and insanely melodic trademark-riffs, before Aldrahn’s familiar voice enters the scene. It’s great to see the theatrical and dramatic approach familiar from “International 666” is still there, and the man does a fantastic job, much more studio-like than for example the spontaneous preachings found on Deathtrip’s demo-recordings. The song changes quickly into quite Jazzy atmospheres, using cool sounds of for example the saxophone and piano to create strange sceneries. Aldrahn’s voice changes form with the guitars, which deliver truly avant-gardish playing all the time, sometimes reminding of even Ved Buens Ende. Weird effects spice the voices and sounds while the drumming flows without ease with the music from jamming Jazz to furious blast-beats, and from Progressive acoustic Rock to Black Metal again. A very powerful start for the album, filled with so many events and ideas one cannot but marvel at the creativity of this band once again.
The third song “God Protocol Axiom” starts with the pace and power of “Satanic Art”, but changes quickly into very artistic and weird interpretations. The song is quite similar to the second one, although a bit more weird if possible, as the general picture of the album starts to form. At this point it must me noted how well the cover-art fits the music with all it’s aforementioned Electronic, acoustic and Jazzy elements. A familiar “Kiss the blood” phrase can be heard in the middle of the song, noted by fans of the earlier stuff. The fourth and fifth songs “The Unlocking” and “Architect Of Darkness” feature even more different musical parts and different vocals, always attacking with a new psychedelic short scene through the numerous doors and around the multitude of corners of this album. Some parts could be compared to other bands or artists, but as the music is pure unique Dødheimsgard all the way, it is pointless to name names here. The last song of the album “Blue Moon Duel” is a bit more playful (perhaps) at parts compared to the other songs, yet in the end sounding just as the rest of the album, ending the journey in style.
The structure of the album is so evenly and steadily changing and morphing in all the songs, the whole masterpiece could have been presented as one or two or six songs. It is clear I want to listen this album from start to finish each time in the future, with concentration. Needless to say, the guitars, drums and vocals are performed with great skill throughout the album, but a special credit must be given to the basses which paint truly awesome melodies and patterns, rarely to be heard in any kind of music. It is also cool to realize how much of Aldrahn’s vocals are presented with no effects, showing his skills in the various vocal-styles found on the album in full scope. Also the great quality and production of all the sounds of Electronic nature and extra instruments and effects must be admired. The overall mixing of the album does more justice to the calmer and more experimental parts than the intense Metal parts, which are not by any means weak. As the tracks contain so many different sounds of even acoustic instruments, Electronic sounds, and distorted guitars, it must have not been an easy job to produce these soundscapes, and the final result is good indeed.
This album is definitely everything I expected and more from one of my favourite bands, a perfect continuation of the great musical adventure which has always been Dødheimsgard. May they never cease to create music!