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Varg Vikernes, aka Count Grishnack, is well-known throughout the metal scene for his private life, which included a murder that sent him to prison for fourteen years. Aside from that, the man was a brilliant black metal musicianship and songwriter, and he plays every single instrument on this debut album. The music is very dark and depressing, and the production is terrible which many people feel enhances the black metal listening experience.
The vocals on this album are equivalent to the sound of a demon shrieking, but they actually make the music more enjoyable because you feel the torture in his voice, and you can relate that to the music. The lyrics are all fantasy-based, and most are referenced from the Lord of the Rings. The drumwork is tremendous, especially on "Ea, Lord of the Depths." Really experimental on the drumming, as he mixes it up quite a bit from fast to slow tempos. The bass is not turned up loud, so it is basically a nonfactor. The guitars sound okay, not much of what you would call riffing, but just that black metal style of atmosphere creating guitar sound.
One of my favorite black metal songs ever is “War.” Well, I guess that would be because it doesn’t sound like black metal at all, hehe. It sounds like a typical thrash song with a punishing riff that totally drives the song, great vocals, and outstanding drumwork. It is one of those songs that every time you hear, you just want to bang your fucking head until you can’t anymore. Excellent, excellent song. Other highlights include “Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown”, “Ea, Lord of the Depths”, “Spell of Destruction”, and “My Journey to the Stars.” Althought the latter tends to drag on a bit, it should have ended around the five minute mark. “A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit” is an epic black metal song, it is very good but also it tends to drag on. The two songs on the Aske EP are simply just average.
A fine debut by Varg, the music remains true to black metal while also expanding his own style. The musicianship is pretty good, the guitars could use a little work, as well as the bass, but all in all a pretty solid album.
Track by track:
1) Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown 8.5
2) Ea, Lord of the Depths 8.5
3) Spell of Destruction 9.5
4) Channeling the Power of Souls into a New God N/A
5) War 10
6) The Crying Orc N/A
7) My Journey to the Stars 9
8) Dungeons of Darkness N/A
9) Stemmen Fra Tremmet 7.5
10) Dominus Sathans 6.5
11) A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit 9.5