One of the things which reviewers are expected to do is attach genre labels to bands, and while it can be useful to give a vague idea of what a band might sounds like, it can be a minefield and all too often ridiculous tags such as ‘Epic symphonic bleak post modern baking metal’ are thrown around ending up confusing rather than clarifying what the listener should expect.
With this in mind, I am going to give Norway’s Iskald the tag of ‘Arctic Black Metal’. Although I do this somewhat ironically in view of my previous comments, this seems fitting for a band who are known for their icy blasts, come from Bodø, (inside the arctic circle), and who’s name literally translates to “Ice cold”.
‘Innhøstinga’ breaks four years of silence, and is Iskald’s fifth full length to date, clocking in at around the 50 minute mark with nine tracks, some in English and some in their native Norsk tongue.
Current single ‘The Atrocious Horror’ opens the album, crashing in with a frenetic opening before control is restored with prominent melody and rasping vocals. ‘No Amen’ follows straight on, a little more aggressively but with plenty of changes in tempo to stop it being one dimensional. The pace slows a little for ‘Offer av livet’ creating a more sinister air of malevolence, which seems fitting for a track which I think translates to something like ‘Sacrifice of Life’.
‘Even Dawn Drew Twilight’ soon builds with a growl sitting atop blast beats and aggressive riffs before the main vocals kick in and effectively jostle with guitars for primacy. Half way through the track, the melee subsides leaving a mellow acoustic guitar interlude. This soon builds again with frenetic drum and guitar work returning the intensity and allowing the song to build to its abrupt finale. More icy blasts follow with ‘Resting, Not In Peace’ permeated with epic melody.
‘De Siste Vintre’ is slightly more confrontational in outlook, rumbling and mid paced before ‘From Traitor to Beast’ and its nefarious blastings. These are ultimately broken up by an acoustic guitar section before the track is brought to a close by a slow menacing section
‘Lysene som Forsvant’ has an appropriate air of melancholy to it, (the title translates to ‘The lights that disappeared’). This pensive atmosphere is further added to sweeping melodies, brooding vocal and lyrics in Norwegian.
The album is brought to a close by the title track ‘Innhøstinga’ (‘The Harvest’) which has yet more epic soundscapes set among hostile undercurrents.
This album is a collection of diverse melodic black metal. Don’t get me wrong, this is not symphonic, rather gritty and confrontational while maintaining and air of melody.
The production and musicianship is top notch as is the song writing. Sure, it doesn’t particularly break any new ground but it is good at what it does. Highly recommended if melodic black metal is your thing.
(8/10 Andy Pountney)