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Dødsfall is part of the growing trend of musicians initiating projects that compile members from several countries to effectively create an international band. Started by guitarist slash bassist Ishtar (Moonlight), Dødsfall currently enlists members from Mexico, Norway and Sweden. With their latest EP entitled “Kronet I Svart Eld”, Dødsfall's brand of black metal takes cues from the golden era, the days when Emperor, Darkthrone and Gorgoroth were dominating the black metal scene (otherwise known as the second wave of black metal). While less scathing and raw than many contemporaries, Dødsfall uncovers several tracks that any fan of second wave black metal should enjoy.
Dødsfall's sound is similar to the aforementioned bands; with the base of the music being a relatively raw style of black metal with melodic bits and elements of thrash thrown around. The production on this EP is utterly fantastic, as every instrument is audible (yes, even the bass), while the songs retain a very raw edge. Rather than having the clean, polished, and often lifeless, sound of modern releases (Dimmu Borgir's ultra-clear production on “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” comes to mind), “Kronet I Svart Eld” opts for a dirtier and grittier sounding release, without coming across muddy and unprofessional.
Everything about thing about Dødsfall hearkens back to the early nineties. The vocals, courtesy of Vassago Rex (Arvas, ex-Ancient) are typical sounding black metal vocals. Not venturing away from the typical raspy squelch that black metal is known for, the vocals, while well performed, are rather one dimensional. With the EP being only five tracks and twenty-five minutes in length, it's not that much of a drawback. The vocals are performed with conviction, but there’s just nothing spectacular about them. Thankfully, this is a short release, as I imagine the vocals would get a little monotonous with a longer listen.
Musically, Dødsfall sounds like an early nineties black metal band. The guitar tone sounds like “Pentagram” era Gorgoroth, the drums have a less frantic Darkthrone feel; the similarities to second wave black metal are striking. The cover artwork for “Kronet I Svart Eld” and the general aesthetic presented by Dødsfall falls straight in line with early Norwegian black metal. But this was released in 2012, was it not? Revivalism is all the rage these days, but it severely limits what the band brings to the table.
The riffing is excellent, frequently calling the greats of the genre to mind. Verse riffing sounds similar to Behemoth’s “Grom” (I know they’re not Norwegian, but the similarities are there). The guitar lines stay in the mid-paced realm, with occasional fast picked trem sections (a la early Ulver). The riffs work best when the band throws in hints of black thrash. The thrashy sections aren’t as thrash heavy as Aura Noir, and only hang around for short bursts, but it adds a powerful catchiness to the music that is missing from the standard sections. The lone instrumental track, “Gal Tjener”, shows Dødsfall at their best, with a very Ophthalamia inspired riff, utilizing a scaled fill with a slightly thrashy vibe that slowly works into a trem picked exit.
The bass, although audible, is not spectacular. There are no nifty fills or rolls: just an audible, plodding bass line that adds nothing more than a solid backbone. The drums are also just kind of there, utilizing a solid middle of the road pace for most of release. The mid paced drumming is very cymbal heavy, with minimal use of the toms, sounding like a slower version of Fenriz (Darkthrone) or early Frost (Satyricon). The faster sections refrain from blastbeat speed, opting for pseudo-fast double bass drumming with slower cymbal and snare work, which have more in common with power metal drumming than most black metal acts.
Dødsfall had supposedly rented too much studio time for the recording of their previous release, “Inn I Mørkets Kongedømm”, as this EP was recorded at the same time. Rather than sounding like rushed or leftover tracks, “Kronet I Svart Eld” flows smoothly and the songwriting is professional. Apparently, Dødsfall recorded a cover of Beastcraft's “Enter the Chaos” for the LP version of this release, which I was not privy to, but it seems an apt choice for a cover, as Beastcraft meddles in the same early nineties black metal revivalism as Dødsfall.
“Kronet I Svart Eld” is a quality release by a band trying to reincarnate the sounds of the early nineties. While Dødsfall does not reinvent the wheel, or even bring anything new to the table at all, it is an enjoyable listen. The short length of this release keeps it from wearing out its welcome. Dødsfall may be trying to rekindle the flames of the glory days, but the band sounds the most convincing when the thrash elements are incorporated. This release is by no means essential. Recommended to fans of early nineties black metal and to fans of bands trying to sound like early nineties black metal.
Written for The Metal Observer