Galar_front“It’s five contemplative texts tell of the utter dreadfulness that haunts both the human mind and body when the season of winter holds everything in its grasp…”
So begins the theme held within the 3rd album from Bergen based duo Galar, who have produced a symphonic black metal album portraying the cyclical nature of transformation in both season and hope. Core members M. Kristiansen (screams, guitar, bass) and A.B. Lauritzen (clean vocals, bassoon, grand piano) have been joined by a host of session musicians to provide a concept album boasting both a string section and a horn quartet, and indeed ‘De gjenlevende’ is a pretty epic slab of frost-bitten extremes. As for the lyrical content…the entire album is in Norwegian, so we’ll just have to take their word for it. Musically speaking this release cannot be faulted, if you want full-on black metal…there is plenty of it here, if you want the folky and symphonic angle…there is plenty of it here. There lies the rub, can you have too much of a good thing? Considering that every track here (apart from the instrumental ‘Ljos’) clocks in at around the 9 minute mark and contains more than enough of those elements, you may find yourself forgetting what aspects of certain tracks you liked in the first place.

The title track sets the standard, with its acoustic intro, spindly guitars and rasped vocals, which give way to clean singing and a string-section. The piano break in ‘Natt…og taust et forglemt liv’ is good too, but after more alternating vocals and symphonic interplay its presence becomes just a memory (until the next track…and the one after that). The jaunty nature of ‘Bokens hymne’ certainly livens up the proceedings, but once again we are in for a long haul. By the time you get to ‘Tusen kall til solsang ny’ the hope of hearing the briefest snatch of uncomplicated harsh black metal has long since gone.

Don’t get me wrong, experimentation within a genre is a wonderful thing, it’s just that on ‘De gjenlevende’ you can’t help but think that a little restraint may have highlighted the inventiveness of the albums delivery. This may be one for Norwegian-language symphonic, folk black metal completists only.

(6/10 Stuart Carroll)