Thursday, April 24, 2014

Welcome to the hall of Hel - Eldjudnir

Review by Majbritt Levinsen.


Lets take a trip to Nifelheim and the halls of Hel - where Eldjudnir will tell you tales from the Norse mythology, derived directly from the old Edda Prose of Snorri Sturlurson accompanied by a very raw, dark and beautiful atmosphere. As you already might have figured out we are going black metal.

I first came in contact with the Danish black metal band Eldjudnir when I discovered Solbrud back in 2013, as they had them amongst their bandcamp recommendations. I bought all three of their albums right there and then and have been pleasantly surprised about their development through the albums they have managed to release so far. Lets start from the beginning.

Their first release was the EP Ragnarok released in 2010. It is sung in Danish with nature romantic touches such as rain, thunder and howls from the wild blended into the spacious guitars and gritty backwalls of sounds that blasts along in typical black metal style. There are some really nice acoustic parts that enhances the tracks and the storytelling aspect of the songs. The vocal is both raw raspy crow-like singing and spoken words/chants. As with most black metal drummers I’m really impressed with Jacob Hee Lindhardt Lund’s drumwork, not to mention that Jakob Sture Winnem Larsen handles every other instrument on this recording, including the vocal. For those not familiar with Danish, the lyrics tells the tale about Ragnarök from the start of the Fimbulvinter until the end when all of the worlds have been swallowed by the sea.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Next up is their second EP, Ginnungagap, released in 2011 and it follows the path of Ragnarok in regards to the Norse mythology storytelling aspects. The first track is so beautiful and tells how the world rises from the big primordial void - the Ginnungagap. We will also hear about Loki and Odin until the eternal winter ("Evig Vinter") hits this EP, I must say that this track isn’t a favourite of mine, but it has its moments. The last track, the instrumental "Tomhed (Outro)" is however one brilliant piece of work - that is a track I would like an extended version of, in the scope of Sabazius’s - "The Descent of Man", nah just kidding, but the same length as the brilliant "Skogens Hjärta" by Hypothermia would be lovely!


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Onwards and upwards! Angrboda from 2012 is in my humble opinion the most complete and best offering from this young band, closely followed by Ragnarok. The tracks are more majestic and offers both chaos and beauty. Angrboda also differs from the 2 past releases as it is sung in old Icelandic, the lyrics are from the original Gylfaginning by Snorri Sturlurson. I have to point out the track "Bundinn", it really hits a chord in me: it is fluid and spacious yet still raw and engulfed in thick moist fog. And as the 11 minutes long track "Fenris" closes off the album I want to hit the play button again...

And I’ve been listening a lot to all of the three albums above and I have yet to grow tired of them.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

UR - UR

Written by Ulla Roschat.


With this self titled album UR present their self-titled debut (2013), consisting of 3 long songs all above the 10 minute mark and a runtime of about 42 minutes altogether.

The four piece band from Dresden/Germany formed in 2010 and they play a blend of atmospheric Post and Doom Metal, inspired, according to their self-description, by “the realm of forgotten, exterminated and endangered animals” and like the band name and the song titles as well as the doomy epic slow heaviness of the music itself suggest, their focus is not so much on insects but rather on larger more massive species.

Immanent in all three songs are their slow build ups that pile up to huge waves of ambient sound carrying an atmosphere of a dark, gloomy melancholy. Vocals are near to non-existent, but used to great effect.

Still the songs are all differently structured; while the first song “Aurochs” is characterized by slow plodding march like rhythms that pick up layers of different sounds on their way and is growing more and more from the doomy base into an ambient soundscape, “Condor” stands out due to its long (7 min.) quiet, mostly acoustic sounding middle part that has its own arcs of tension and build ups. Each different instrument takes its turn in the lead. This part is bursting with emotion which is carried into the last heavier and louder part giving it an enormous impact.

“Megaloceros” is the only truly instrumental and the most Post Metal sounding song, drony, bassy, distorted, fuzzy. This is rather straight and forward driving (though not without breaks), like one big wave with a beautiful melancholic melody riding on it to land on a shore of distortion, feedback and dissonance yet not losing its melody throughout.

This is an amazing debut album. Most striking are the slow and long build ups that are able to carry their tension into the ambient soundscapes without drowning all the subtler details. This gives the songs a kind of filigree elegance and texture still embraced by doomy heaviness.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]



Notes: Originally posted on the defunct Temple of Perdition blog.

Queen Elephantine - Scarab

Written by Ulla Roschat.

Art by Adrian Dexter

Scarab (May 2013) is Queen Elephantine’s latest release of four full length albums and several splits and EPs. They originally formed in Hong Kong in 2006, but are currently based in Providence/RI/USA. Roughly described the album is some kind of experimental meditative doom drone whatever. Guitar, slide guitar, bass, tanpura, vocals and two drumsets are the instruments Queen Elephantine use to conjure a strong psychedelic, lysergic vibe and create a dark, mysterious atmosphere.

What you will need to appreciate this album is an open mind and open senses, and if you’re willing to submit yourself to it you will be rewarded with an utterly satisfying listening experience.

Queen Elephantine 2012. Photo by karawho

As everything is very slow, drawn out, utterly heavy, repetitive and minimalistic, there doesn't seem to happen very much, but the open spaced sound is completely filled with resonance and reverb especially from guitar, bass and the vocals. The vocals are sung with extremely lengthened vowels that perfectly correspond with the strings’ sound and remind me of the meditative aum chants, but with a dirge like “funeralistic” wail to it. It’s also filled, with the millions of different percussion sounds, as the percussion is quite predominant throughout the the album. And finally the underlying buzzing drone sounds of the slide guitar and tanpura seem to be of constant presence.

Queen Elephantine 2012. Photo by karawho

The opening track Veil indeed does function as an opening tool. It opens a door to mysterious and exotic soundscapes. With a slow and patient build up, drony, percussive and luringly hypnotic it leads you to meet the first murky riffs and the unusual use of the vocals, to some strange temple-like place, awe-inspiring and compelling all the same. There’s a sense of a lurking unknown threatening danger combined with some power omnisciently aware of an inevitable doom, yet compassionately wailing about it. And this sense is growing with each of the four songs of the album.

Equally growing is the discrepancy between the meditative repetitiveness and the weird, unconventional structures and disturbing dissonances, the first requires a kind of “mental dispersal” and the latter rather a focused concentration. And herein lies the true beauty and brilliancy of Scarab; the contradicting elements are so perfectly balanced, that there’s always an exciting tension carried in an entrancing flow of dark and mysterious, trippy sounds.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]