Not actually a new release in case you were wondering but Vaarwel recently got in touch and asked if I would be willing to go back in time and cover some of his earlier work, apparently the discs were on the way to me. I had absolutely no problems in doing so and call this an exercise in indulgence on both our parts if you so wish. I was a bit peeved to find that in the case of this one in particular the musician had sent me his own personal copy though, saying one day he may track it down again. Somehow I doubt it as this 3 inch CDR presented in a mini DVD like box was originally released by Rigorism Productions limited to just 50 copies. Needless to say it is not likely to be something that pops up to buy very often. It would also be a real pain to review it and in such a positive fashion only for anyone reading this to never be able to hear it but the song is available to listen to online and if you wish to (something I would very much suggest) the link to do so is here
What we have here is one track 22:22 in length and one that for some reason the words ‘pure as the driven snow’ come into my head to describe it. Gusts and some chilly wind chime sounds are first heard, very much in line of what would follow on 2013 Trollvinter release. There is a sense of isolation here before with a massive wallop everything piles in and the sound expands into a crushing morass of driving Norwegian sounding black metal. It never lets up either, the central monstrous riffing is now present to surge with a striking forceful might throughout the epic running length of the track. It does draw you in, much in the same way as Burzum at best with the repetitive streak coming across as mesmerizing rather than monotonous, something that can be difficult to achieve. You are left to find yourself trying to keep up with the furious strumming, which is eventually joined by some primeval lycanthropic vocal howls.
It is the bloom of the musical hoarfrost itself that really brings the essence of the magic here to the fore though as those wind chime / xylophone effects blossom in and tinkle like ice shards amidst the seething torrent. They really do make their mark adding beauty to the thorny central mass of the number, reminding a little of the effect I always get listening to Dimmu Borgir classic ‘Mourning Place.’ Not that this should in anyway be compared to them as this is a far more serious prospect to true black metal as an art form than any gimmick driven Satan buffoonery. The way the track manages to keep going to such a length is somewhat surprising and I guess some may find it overlong, however for me there is an addictive tenacity that has had me drawn back into playing this again and again. The only problem in this is that it has meant that the other three instrumental and more ambient releases which will all be covered in one review have been set aside and coverage of these will have to wait until I have driven this one out of my system.
As far as epic, nature inspired black metal is concerned this is an undiscovered classic that deserves much more widespread recognition and in my opinion it’s fully worthy of a future reissue.
(9/10 Pete Woods)