Well over a decade or so ago, Ofermod were much discussed in hushed, whispered tones throughout the underground. Their ‘Mysterion Tes Anomias’ EP had been doing the circuit for some time and – highly regarded piece of art as it was – it was thought they may well be poised to be the ‘next big thing’ from Sweden. Unfortunately, mainman Michayah’s frequent brushes with the authorities meant that by the time they came round to releasing their debut full-length in 2008, much of this momentum had been lost.
Nevertheless, the band appears to have stabilized a little since this rather turbulent period and with the addition of the distinctive J Kvarnbrink from Mortuus on vocals and guitars, are poised to release ‘Sol Nox’, their third album and surely one which will see them reenergise significantly the buzz around the band. This is an impressive record from the outset, setting a tone that is relentlessly blackened, cavernously atmospheric yet replete with intriguing subtlety amongst the fury. ‘The Alpha of the Omega’ is a potent opener, Kvarnbrink’s violently stentorian vocals and Michayah’s trademark frenetic riffing laying down a marker of much of what is to come.
As one might expect, there is a definite Swedish atmosphere to Ofermod’s work but their approach to melody and songcraft is defiantly distinctive – it’s a touch less predictable than many, chords weaving and shifting throughout tracks such as ‘Smaiut N Set’ and ‘Sun of Dead Seasons’. Special mention must also be made of the impressive battery of S Samuelsson – the percussion throughout Sol Nox is furious yet inventive with a particular emphasis on adding colour to ferocious blastbeats. The propulsive, shifting power that underpins the title track for example is a real show of force that never sacrifices creativity upon the altar of aggression.
And that I think that is at once both the perfect summary of Sol Nox and its undoubted strengths – a taut, concise assault of creatively inventive black metal, it feels as if this third album could really act as a launchpad for Ofermod to claim a throne that was once poised to be theirs.
(8.5/10 Frank Allain)