BlahoBlåhø is not the noise one makes into a tissue when suffering a particularly bad cold but is actually the name of a mountain in the Trollheim range that this Norwegian band affiliate themselves with and apparently have members who have climbed it many times.  Chances are it is also the one on the striking album cover artwork which takes you into a terrain synonymous with Norwegian black metal in all its epic nature inspired, pine scented glory but what of the music itself?

Well looking into things this debut album is made by members who include three players of symphonic black metal act Quadrivium. They also utilised two drummers on the session one of whom has done time in Urgehal, Shining and a host of others and another (on the last two tracks) equally busy with the likes of Cor Scopii and Celebratum, so although a debut there is stacks of experience here. Having said that these session players seem to not be part of the band anymore and just the two original guitarists Anders and Disme remain.

‘As Eternal Dreams’ starts things off and enriches with melodious harmony and jubilant vocals I am pitched in a place that really reminds of the likes of Borknagar and Vintersorg. It is not in any great rush but the mood is grandiose here and it sweeps you up with a very dreamlike and mature flow. The melodious vocals are backed up by a rasping vocalist too giving us both harsh and clean tones to work with amongst the drifting instrumentation. Keyboards are etched to add a certain sense of expansiveness but are not too in the face and a spoken word part tops the song off perfectly and gets you very much in the mood for what is to come. That first drummer Uruz gets a chance to leave his mark on ‘A Vision Of Horrors’ battering and blasting his way through things as a more sinister essence pervades. It certainly adds a touch of horror to things and there are moods comparable to Arcturus coming through with the vocal arrangements going from grim to austere.

This is an epic and confident sounding release with all seven tracks having a real spark about them and although it is fairly easy to mention other bands this is not formulaic or a mere copy of anyone in the slightest. Tracks like the title one have both a dark and happy feel about them which is quite odd and there is an element of the grotesque and theatrical at times which also reminds of the likes of Carach Angren. The long flowing leads and choral swoons have a definite Scandinavian feel about them though so the identity is never really in doubt. At times the melody of the songs are incredibly memorable and there is a particular spark about ‘Heimferd’ in particular that puts this in the upper echelons of a self-released band making me wonder how come nobody has picked this up; once heard the bravado sweep of this one won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

Apparently the remaining members are writing material which could stretch to two new albums, one in the vein of Dimmu Borgir and the other inspired by Windir; this could actually be said to bridge the gap between the two so I can see this but wonder why they don’t simply carry on in this style as it really worked for me here.

(7.5/10 Pete Woods)