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From the moment I heard about this band, a long, long time ago, I knew they wouldn't be all they were cracked up to be. Their sound is pretty much the same as Satryicon's middle albums. Pretty raw, but with that old heavy metal/hard rock sound. Satyricon actually did it fairly well ... someone should have slapped these guys on the wrists, and said "No, no - you suck at that." For not only is the music as simple and repetitive as possible, but the most of the time, it's not even worthy of nodding your head to like Satyricon or newer Immortal. Geez, at least those guys sound angry. How can people say this is angry? I've heard more lividity come from a pre-school playground. Okay ... well, from a punk band.
Which brings me to another point - some of these songs sound like punk songs gone terribly wrong. (Not that a punk song could really be right to begin with) The vocals are just so wussy and crackle in that way ... it's annoying, and, well ... pretty stupid.
The first track contains a section, where the bass pulls out in front, and you can clearly hear it's steely one note sleep inducing strumming. At any given point in the music, the bass will do this; jump out in front, spontaneously, and actually be louder than the guitar.
Not that it matters to most people, but just so that the truth is told - there is absolutely nothing special about the lyrics. I was writing more thoughtful stuff when I was thirteen, and if you think it's any token to their credit that they're "straightforward", consider this: you say what's on your mind, and that's what these "lyrics" are. There's nothing special about making lyrics that are straightforward. Literally, anyone, can do it.
Whoever does write the lyrics, needs to start trying to fit the words into the music. Sometimes the vocals will be going, with words spilling over the edge of the riffs.
The track The Northern Hemisphere starts with a rather boring acoustic passage, and a clip of an old man groaning. Now, my guess is that it was to create the sound of utter anguish - well, they got that sound: the sound of anguish put forth from a 112 year old man having a rough time with a turd. It's not all that obtrusive, but it bothered me.
The reasons I'm giving this points:
1. The ambient track Lupus and sections of ambient here and there, are actually cool and very dark sounding.
2. The track In Silence I Observe, a good, yet still very straightforward black metal track, the keyboardist finally made some noticeable contribution to the music. It's well structured, runs smoothly from riff to riff, and you can actually nod your head to it.
3. The rest of The Northern Hemisphere is a good, more mellow track - despite dragging out too long.
4. The production is very keen for black metal, and it really helps. Because it's not ridiculously shitty (Immortal in their death metal days, or Darkthrone's Goatlord), or over polished (Dimmu Borgir's Stormblast) ...
No points for: Everything else.
Points taken off for: Everything listened above.
That's it. There's nothing special here. Just ignore this CD ...