This Norwegian band is notable for having Dirge Rep (drums), who has played in numerous bands and Teloch (Mayhem, Nidingr) in its ranks and released a self-titled debut in 2011 which I have not heard but it appears that the band has changed direction according to the promo information. The album’s title is taken from a county region in Norway and added to that the vocals and lyrics were recorded and written respectively on site in the wood, mountains and Northern shores.

The intro piece “Innferd” is suitably poignant and stirring with a tribal like beat pumped out initially hinting at a folk like influence the band indicated within the promo information. “Skogen” follows and immediately there is a detonation of black metal blasting but what catches the ear is the vocal style which isn’t your usual shrieking or snarling. Instead they are traded for a semi-clean delivery within the incendiary blackened devastation. The guitar work will catch the ear of many, as it is a triple attack with riffs flying in from all directions and that enrichment enables the songs to feel all-encompassing as Dirge Rep utilises his accomplished drumming skills brilliantly at all times to match it all.

As I mentioned earlier the vocals really do catch your attention, offering a variety of tones as “Fjella” blasts theatrically into life with a semi-clean vocal exhibition that is sort of spoken and occasionally I had thoughts of Limbonic Art in my head as the music has that aura of grandiosity yet massively intense and aggressive and “Stormen” follows which I personally found to be my favourite on the album. Beginning rather inauspiciously the song abruptly stamps on the accelerator and has an Emperor feel from the “IX Equilibrium” era with a cascading double kick run that gallops along. The switch in riff is excellent and is superbly executed making it extremely catchy as the haunting vocal appears like an apparition. The tune is loaded with theatrics as again my reference to Limbonic Art is relevant as the track smoothly curves into a slower section creating an avant-garde feel.

“Hausten” is pulverising as the half spoken vocals materialise again, the song is punishingly heavy as the deluging double kick is relentless and completely destructive as the vocals take on a whole new personality here. The brief pause is excellent as you expect the track to slow down which it doesn’t, instead it intensifies further and then drops into a wonderful percussive piece that does temper the density and speed. Guesting on vocals is Cpt Estrella Graza (Nidingr) whose unique tone is added to “Arv” a short but catchy track boasting an infectious riff blended to harsh vocals and clean vocals equally, the track has one of those riffs and beats that will etch into your head as a ghostly choral wail is also added to the track.

The epic “Havet” clocks the ten minute barrier and is suitably complex, beginning with a rolling drum salvo that is chaotic before settling into a slow almost funeral pace with haunting vocal. The changes in the song are subtle and gradual as the song steadily intensifies through shades of ghoulish creepiness. The guitar work is excellent, especially the leads which is passionate adding power and dexterity to a track that overflows with power and emotion as a supreme acoustic section is also added prior to the thunderous blast beat.

This is a superb album, it is luxuriant, an avalanche of ideas all harmoniously amalgamated into one gargantuan listening experience that is utterly essential.

(9.5/10 Martin Harris)