Norway’s Orkan wandered across my radar with their second album “Livlaus” in 2015, a vitriolic album that also encouraged me to watch them at the Inferno Festival in 2016 much to my delight. The bands third album sees them take their blackened hostility to another level by expanding their song writing by making the songs generally a tad longer as the album opens with “Lenkar”. The calm opening strains give way to a bereft isolated riff and howling background noise before being shattered into a blast beat. The vocals have a throat shredding tone as the track creates a nightmarish atmosphere with lingering guitar hooks and vocal adornments such as ghoulish groans and chants.
“I Flammar Skal Du Eldast” is colossal, the drum fills that envelop the opening sequence are expansive, developing the track towards a powerful double kick explosion that is wondrously catchy. The song has an old Enslaved feel to it and I mean old, as the drum work is used to brilliant effect especially when the track coolly diverts into a mid-tempo break and guitar hook. The song has such cohesive finesse you hardly notice the subtle changes taking place even when it returns to half blasted phases and is my favourite track on the album.
“Iskald” is harsh, a ferocious blackened assault that caustically drives via the blasted drum work before the brilliant switch in pace, and it is those effortless tempo changes that make this album such a joy to listen to. Bridging between “Iskald” and another epic composition, “Avmakt” is “Motstraums” an eerie, creepy vocalised interlude that links the two songs beautifully as “Avmakt” starts with a fantastic emotive riff. The power and atmosphere is palpable, your skin will crawl, goose bumps will appear as the song has that deft beauteous blackness that black metal can craft when done brilliantly like this does. As the track progresses and drops into the tranquil and sombre section, a haunting shadowiness is unveiled before returning the song to pummelling fury.
Closing the album is “Heim”, a pagan like tune initially, the song has a gentle percussive beat and as you listen to it, you await the thrust of black metal violence but it does not appear, instead the album ends with a wonderful ambient piece that eventually dissolves into a track very similar to Sólstafir, with clean vocals. I could even say the song is cinematic, the way it unfolds into a grandiose piece of music is exceptional and is a perfect ending to an album that has such phenomenal arrangements and exceptional musicianship.
(9/10 Martin Harris)