The etymology of the title being a rough translation from Swedish to “optical illusion”, this fourth album from Stilla is a suitably savage yet elaborate black metal affair. The contradiction of razor sharp guitar attacks complemented by warming keyboard tones isn’t as daft as you’d think, and it’s to the credit of Stilla that they pull off this trick of progression with aplomb.
The artwork is similarly deceptive. At first glance the cover appears rather stark and minimalistic, however it’s actually a fitting representation of the music. The portrayal of the Aurelias Borealis against an icy landscape provides a visual metaphor for the theatrical flourishes that complement the biting undertone, resplendent with discordant riffs and melodies that hook the listener. The aforementioned keyboards are unusually high in the mix, yet not overbearing.
Stilla dabble in a tamer flavour of the subtle esoteric moments that more exotic acts like Oranssi Pazuzu and Subterranean Masquerade are famed for. Peers of lesser maturity often get the balance wrong and end up lost in self-indulgence, however, the incorporation of such elements here stays the right side of experimentation without straying into “fairground metal” territory. Comparisons with Enslaved in this respect aren’t unfair.
A welcome addition to their catalogue, an album that immediately grasps the listener whilst revealing more with each subsequent play.