Given the legacy, it is not surprising that Norway continues to spawn seemingly endless black metal bands but after 30 years or so, it is increasingly difficult to find anything that sounds fresh within the genre, with many content to either rehash the same formulaic sound (nothing wrong with that if done well) or stray from the roots with an ever increasing reliance on keyboards, choirs and so on.
This four track EP is the debut EP of Oslo’s DOLD VORDE ENS NAVN, and they have achieved that holy grail of a fresh sound within the constraints of the black metal blue print. The EP opens with ‘Den Ensomme Død’ and after a very brief into which brings to mind Metallica’s Orion, spoken (strained) vocals lead to rhythmic riffing and then tormented vocals, immediately bringing to mind Dødheimsgard.
This sent me scuttling to look at the list of band members and it did not surprise me to see that the vocals were being delivered by none than Vicotnik of Dødheimsgard (and Ved Buens Ende). While we are at it, it is worth noting that he is joined by Håvard Jørgensen on guitars (aka Haavard and Lemarchand, co-founding member of Satyricon and early Ulver member) Cerberus on bass (ex- Dødheimsgard) and Myrvoll on drums (Nidingr). With this pedigree it is no surprise that this EP is head and shoulders above many of its peers.
The track presses on with the distinctive vocal style and a wall of riffs which have an undeniable punk element to them before ‘Drukkenskapens Kirkegård’ makes itself known with no finesse. This is straight into an aggressive pummelling and more of the anguished vocals which border on howls at times. The pace is relentless and the whole track has an air of the frantic, even when the vocals slow a little as the track closes, the whole thing batters onwards without respite.
‘Vitnesbyrd’ also gets straight down to business with the vocals being a little more growled. Mid song the music takes a dramatic pause leaving Vicotnik’s more familiar style to return as tortured spoken vocals creating a haunting atmosphere before an acoustic guitars and marching style drumming provides the accompaniment building an air of despair before things build once more to the close of the track.
The final track ‘Blodets Hvisken’ opens with a prominent interesting melody line which leads into a dense, aggressive outpouring. Again an acoustic guitar breaks the pummelling with some clean vocal chanting mid song which serves to emphasise the heavier portions which soon follow until the EP is brought to a close with some peaceful spoken words which serve to give an air of finality to proceedings.
At only 20 minutes, the EP is over in the blink of an eye and left me reaching for the play button, keen to listen again and explore its depths further. True, it is not unique but it sounds fresh and has far more energy than many of its peers, especially as a debut EP. It is also true to say that Vicotnik’s vocal style can be an acquired taste but it sits well on this album amongst the abrasive riffs and pummelling percussion with its ‘in your face’ attitude, and I hope to have the chance to catch them live at some point.
(7.5/10 Andy Pountney)