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Part of Jon Nödtveidt's claim to fame is that he made an old trick new again. Dissection's The Somberlain was released at the height of the so-called Second Wave; Storm of the Light's Bane came towards the end of it. By the point Nödtveidt left his mark in black metal, the musical end of the culture had begun to settle down; the original spirit of pure provocation inevitably gave way to a more mature, artistically liberated outlook. From a musical perspective, black metal no longer had to prove itself against other styles like death metal, and enough talented people had stirred it for long enough that it might still be identifiable if combined with other sounds. Dissection certainly pioneered melodic black metal, but they didn't invent any of the ingredients used in that formula. Nödtveidt went back in time to the twin-guitar melodies prevalent in Iron Maiden and other NWOBHM classics, and fused that familiar influence into black metal that an astonishing number of people who listen to them neglect to realize there's a fusion going on at all.
Storm of the Light's Bane arguably has one of the most iconic album covers in black metal history, and the music seems to have left about as much of an impression on people. Certainly, Dissection had built up a strong core ability by the point of The Somberlain, and this second album saw that intensity grow. Storm of the Light's Bane itself is a pretty great album, and I think Nödtveidt was able to pair his heretical visions with a songwriting proficiency shared by few of his Neanderthal contemporaries. But is it another sort of heresy to feel less towards an album almost unanimously thought of as a masterpiece? Is it alright to like an album -- a lot, even -- and still think it probably doesn't deserve the throne of reverence it gets from most other listeners? A more mixed reaction can be a more difficult foundation to write a review about; this is doubly true in the case of a twenty year-old classic that's been heard by virtually everyone it might appeal to.
I'll say again: Storm of the Light's Bane is a great album. If there are times I still think The Somberlain is better overall, this is the album with the most memorable songs. This is the album that immortalized Dissection. This is the album people will remember the band for, and for good reason. While the most significant innovation in Dissection was Nödtveidt successfully weaponizing Maidenesque twin-guitar leads, the thing that's kept Storm of the Light's Bane sounding fresh is the songwriting. With most fresh styles, there's usually a period where the pioneer is still learning to write around his innovation-- see Burzum's early work if you're looking for an example. For Dissection, the songwriting was always at the forefront, and none moreso than on Storm of the Light's Bane. Dissection's more memorable parts are all derived from their freshing use of melody, but Jon Nödtveidt doesn't let that aspect of the music dull any other. "Night's Blood" is startling for its speed and technical aggression. Melody is usually seen to go hand-in-hand with basic verseform songwriting, but again, Dissection doesn't let that conventional beauty get in the way of more involved songwriting. "Thorns of Crimson Death" is one of the prettiest songs on the album, and the parts are so nicely gathered together that it's easy to overlook how many dynamic shifts that song offers in its eight minutes. Even the single and melodic masterstroke "Where Dead Angels Lie" has a sense of engrained urgency in spite of being the most melodic and conventionally written song of the lot.
Given how many of their contemporaries were taken to a style-over-substance approach to music, the fact that Dissection's songwriting succeeds distinct of the risky style they were pioneering ensures that Storm of the Light's Bane be seen as a finalized expression rather than primarily as a genre's step in evolution. The marriage of classic metal melodies with evil tritone chord progressions was nonetheless a powerful reverse-engineering of old tricks, and the music takes capital advantage of the band's distinctive character. Nödtveidt's songwriting is built on strong foundations of dynamic and interesting chord changes. As it happens, a lot of those shifts throughout the album tend to be very similar, and the impression of a formula arises before the album's over, though it's not quite so pronounced that it makes the music sound predictable.
Considering Jon Nödtveidt and Johan Norman were 19 and 21 respectively when this album was recorded, I'm consistently wowed by their control as guitarists, and the almost-thrashy energy they put into the riffs on "Night's Blood" makes a good part of why it's one of my favourites on the album. Just as much, I'm impressed by Ole Öhman's drumming here, who sounds technically accomplished, but also too immersed in his playing to care if a beat or two is out of place. The percussion is constantly busy, and it gives Storm of the Light's Bane a feeling of consistent intensity.
I've got a lot of respect for Storm of the Light's Bane, and that respect is heightened when I stop to consider the band didn't have much to direct inspire the direction with, outside of The Somberlain from a couple years earlier. Style and songwriting are both strengths to this album, but those two parts of Dissection seem to impress me more in concept than in reality. Jon Nödtveidt wrote plenty of great riffs for this album, and it's obvious he knows how to organize songs, but the tracks here don't impress me equally. "Unhallowed" and "Soulreaper", for instance, never struck me immediately like "Where Dead Angels Lie", nor did they grow on me like "Night's Blood" or "Retribution - Storm of the Light's Bane". What's more; hearing a very similar-sounding album with Sacramentum's Far Away from the Sun, and realizing how much more I enjoyed it over this brings to question what Storm of the Light's Bane might be missing. In truth, I don't think anything is missing from this album. It is well-rounded, and thoroughly inspired, but other albums have been both without being considered the best for what they are. While I still think some of the subsequent meloblack acts (like Sacramentum and Vinterland) would actually do it better than this, Dissection still crafted a memorable record here, and I don't think they would seem less on-point if they weren't the first, but hundredth to play this style.
...the first one is “The Somberlain”, of course. Well, as you may know if you follow my reviews, Dissection is my favourite black metal band ever (speaking about the so-called “second wave”, of course) and their first two albums constitute the absolute peak of the genre. However, paradoxically, I’d even dare to say something that could sound very controversial to most people and apparently contradictory: the hype received by “Storm of the Light’s Bane” in comparison to “The Somberlain” is exaggerated and disproportioned. And I’m not blaming the album itself (which, I repeat, is an absolute masterpiece), but the mainstream metal crowd that tends to look just at what’s popular and trendy, overlooking some stuff that sometimes could even be better. After all, this is one of the first black metal albums ever to be released by Nuclear Blast (when Dimmu Borgir yet was just an underground act and the label couldn’t profit upon their fashionable sound), and this particular circumstance surely contributed to give more and more fame to Nödtveidt’s second work of art. Actually, both albums would deserve exactly the same level of praise, but sadly, the twisted and perverted world of music business isn’t based on actual quality. However, end of complain - let’s analyze the album for what it is!
“Storm of the Light’s Bane” is the natural prosecution of the musical research started with the debut: this time, the band focuses less on “hypnotic atmospheres” and more on aggression and melodic variety. I could state that, under some points of view, this second opus is slightly less complex than the first one, while under some other points of view it’s a bit more developed; it all depends from which perspective you look at the two works. Something that’s immediately recognizable is a major experimentation with classical influences and constructions; the majestic intro “At the Fathomless Depths” displays it very well, introducing some very creepy, epic and extremely sinister melodies that owe also a lot to classical music and infect your mind with twisted black magic, making you feel the coldness of the Scandinavian landscape right on your skin and placing you in a sinister state of discomfort. You can’t escape, and that’s just the beginning.
“Night’s Blood” begins in an atypical way for Dissection standards: instead of the intense, penetrating, icy tremolo riffs of the previous album, this song opens with a very aggressive and straightforward thrash riff, with a pace that reminds mostly to mid-80’s Teutonic stuff such as Destruction. Very soon, the song returns in the black metal environment, but you can still feel a definite sense of change. In fact, on this album, Nödtveidt allows more space to his 80’s metal influences, almost in order to confirm his dissociation from the 90’s death metal trend that, actually, was the main scapegoat for most of the earliest Scandinavian black metal acts. While “The Somberlain” was somehow more compact and cohesive in its elegant and sophisticated display of melody, “Storm of the Light’s Bane” is more “polyhedric” and surely more “explicit” about its NWOBHM influences; I’m pretty much sure that, until then, no other black metal band had sounded that close to Iron Maiden. Not even Naglfar. Not even Dawn. Not even Cradle of Filth. Not even Unanimated. “Storm of the Light’s Bane” redesigned the concept of “melody” in black metal, like “The Somberlain” had already done two years before on a slightly less mainstream spectrum.
The Iron Maiden influences are absolutely evident in a more “pyrotechnic” use of guitar melodies, solos and harmonies, in a way that would make the legendary “Murray/Smith” duo proud. The guitars intertwine, interweave, fight each other and blend together at the same time, creating a soloist mosaic that I have rarely found in other bands (excluding Maiden, of course...); almost chaotic at times, yet constantly clear and minutely well-placed. Another explicit reference to NWOBHM is the use of more “open” melodies: while the debut was 100% focused on dark, occult and sorrowful atmospheres, on this album there’s even some space for more “maidenesque” melodies in the real sense of the term, sounding almost “happy” and “saccharine” at times, but without losing a single hint of evil and wickedness (yes, believe me, this is possible); the harmonized tremolo riffs contained in the refrains of “Night’s Blood” and “Soulreaper” are the definitive example of this formula: it’s like if those songs light up for few seconds, before falling back ”into infinite obscurity”.
Even a more “classic” and “purist” black metal track such as “Unhallowed” can’t renounce to display some classic heavy metal influences, inserting some brief melodic heavy metal riffs where you don’t expect them (the blast-beat is still going on beneath them!), while “Where Dead Angels Lie”, being a slower and more atmospheric piece, is the right place to express Nödtveidt’s genius about eerie guitar phrasings and various soloistic parts, which create a unique, genial fusion. Jon puts Maiden-style solo works at the service of majestic, dramatic and sorrowful atmospheres, like no other black metal musician had done before. But the track that, most of all, pays a debt to classic heavy metal is the hyper-famous hit “Thorns of Crimson Death”: it’s a very atypical episode for Dissection, being mostly a mid-paced affair with palm-muted heavy metal riffage which sound more “rhythmic” than usual for the band’s standards, ending up being quite catchy even for non-black metal listeners (and this factor justifies the astonishing fame of the song); however, even upon this structure, Jon’s melodic work is still abundant and prolific, in the most majestic way possible (and, once the song finally speeds up, you’ll hear some of the eeriest tremolo riffs ever crafted in black metal).
The 80’s influences blend very well with the “classical” soul of the album, empowering the vast mosaic of melodies (even in the riff department) and influencing the whole song-construction, in an effective alternation of different levels of pathos. Some of the best tremolo riffs that you can find on “Night’s Blood” are built upon very developed, twisted and majestic classical-derived melodies, while the monumental, thunderous riffage of “Retribution - Storm of the Light’s Bane” leaves no doubt about the soul of these compositions. Still in this regard, “The Somberlain” was filled with plenty of neoclassical arpeggios: its follower continues this tradition, though in a minor measure. You will still find some excellent acoustic interludes in the middle of “Night’s Blood”, at the beginning of “Where Dead Angels Lie” and, yeah, at the end of “Storm of Crimson Death”... right before death falls completely upon you in the form of the last two tracks.
And that’s where I wanna spend some more words: every song of this album is incredible, but if I had to choose the absolute highlight, it would undoubtedly be “Soulreaper”. It’s probably one of the most “straightforward black metal” tracks of the album, but, at the same time, it manages to include, epitomize and synthesize every component of Nödtveidt’s genial and polyhedric music formula. The main riff is something that would’ve not been out of place on “The Somberlain”, and injecting a pyrotechnical use of harmonies, melodic refinements and semi-dissonances into a basic melody which is already awesome on its own, keeps faith to every musical concept represented by this album. That riff is one of the most evil, yet most beautiful, most majestic and most sorrowful things you’ll ever experience in music, and the song rages on like an inhuman assault (featuring even a brief acoustic part upon the electric guitar tracks!); the standard blast-beat slightly slows down toward the end, creating a major pathos and a hypnotic crescendo that ends with Jon’s final malignant scream. After this slaughter, nothing remains, and the outro “No Dreams Breed in Breathless Sleep” (a very explicative title) is here to remind you about it: it’s a very simple piano instrumental, but those few notes manage to sound very melancholic, suffused and atmospheric, maybe even robbing you some tears.
This is the second and final achievement of Jon’s true artistic vision: the creation of a masterful and unique blend of black metal and complex, melodic and thoughtful composition. Too bad that, after this second masterpiece, he got involved in a lot of pseudo-occult bullshit and in the killing of a homosexual, which cost him a lot of time spent in prison. And, after he came out, nothing was the same anymore: his musical vision got lost during all those years, and the third and final Dissection album, “Reinkaos”, has been a massive disappointment, being just vapid melodeath/metalcore dressed up with an “occult concept” but severely lacking in musical substance. But that’s another story, and you all know how it ended.
However... if you’re not familiar with black metal, screw all the prejudices you could have about the genre or about Jon Nödtveidt’s persona: if you really love music, and you know what I’m talking about, you can’t miss Dissection. Both their first two albums are the product of pure musical genius, and stand as the absolute highlights of black metal. Though I will always slightly prefer “The Somberlain” upon this one (and, as already stated, I’m a bit pissed off about the little exposure which that album receives in comparison to its follower), “Storm of the Light’s Bane” surely comes second in my personal list, and no other black metal album stands above it.
Dissection certainly belongs to the most respected and important Swedish extreme metal bands. No surprise really, if you look at their short discography… short, but filled with important and essential releases. Not only there’s “The Somberlain” – one of my favourite records of all time, a true death / black metal masterpiece, but there’s also an insanely good follower, “Storm of the Light’s Bane”. I am not sure if it is a better record when compared to the debut… and I probably don’t even care, as I would rather say that both are equally killer. Both have truly amazing songs, both characterise that exceptional songwriting and arranging style of Jon Nödtveidt… and both are masterpieces of melodic, dark death / black metal. Of course “Storm of the Light’s Bane” was a step forward for Dissection. They got signed by Nuclear Blast Records, who surely had bigger promotional possibilities than No Fashion. Luckily, bigger label didn’t affect the music, and the second album is a natural continuation of “The Somberlain”. The second LP maintains all the strong, powerful aspects of Dissection music and only the production is cleaner, less obscure, but still nice and powerful, fitting well to such dark and cold music.
One look at the tracklist of “Storm of the Light’s Bane” and you can spot that literally all songs on the album are top quality, all are killer tunes, so well known also from the band’s live performances. It is basically flawless, high quality and perfect record from start to finish, without even a second of filler material. Just give a listen to side A (I have the LP, but in case of CD version then I mean tracks 2-5): “Night’s Blood”, “Unhallowed” and finally “When Dead Angels Lie”. Isn’t that a perfect combination of songs? Just as on the previous album, also here Dissection composed amazing songs, where aggressive, obscure riffing goes hand in hand with great harmonies, the work of guitarists is simply astonishing, so well performed, so well composed and arranged music… Just as on the previous record, also here Dissection comes with lengthy songs, but this time is never wasted, as a strong care was taken to craft the long instrumental parts, where both guitarists bring excellent harmonies, which never sound boring and surely are not too melodic. And these lengthy songs never fell apart, being solid and complete… It’s a great achievement of Dissection that they can perform melodic death / black metal without sounding cheesy, but it’s always so dark, sharp and rough. There’s a lot of anger, aggression, but also melancholy and all in all it can be described as emotional music even. Ah, I forgot to add also that some space has also been spiced with acoustic guitars. They add some epicness and even more atmosphere to the whole record, clearly “When Dead Angels Lie” being the best known example for it. And let’s not forget about Jon Nödtveidt’s characteristic ice cold, harsh vocals, which are just as unique as his composing and playing style. With all these aspects together, you always know and recognize easily that this is Dissection and not some copycats or whatever.
“Night’s Blood” and “Unhallowed” are definitely my favourite tunes on this album. But then, as mentioned before, the whole record is perfect, so if I also take as an example such “Retribution - Storm of the Light's Bane” or “Soulreaper” then it’s also a very good choice. And this is how you recognize a masterpiece album. You listen to it for one decade, then for another, but it still gives you a goose bumps, still excites you like crazy… and every song is a winner. “The Somberlain” is exactly like that and “Storm of the Light's Bane” as well.
Finally, I have here an ultimate vinyl version of the album, released in 2006, which not only contains a nice 12” size booklet with lyrics, graphics and some band photos, but also a second bonus LP, which brings an unknown, previously unreleased, mixing of the whole album. And usually I am quite skeptic about such doubtful quality bonuses, as mostly you simply can’t tell the difference between both versions… In this case it’s actually a good addition, as the sound of the unreleased version is different; it’s harsher, more obscure, rawer… So, it was also a great experience to hear that album with more obscure sound and it’s nice to have now a choice which version I want to listen to. Fantastic, complete vinyl release, really!
Standout tracks: “Night’s Blood”, “Unhallowed”, “When Dead Angels Lie”, “Retribution”
Final rate: 88/100
Bellowing out some dark and original riff writing featuring 2 genres of metal, melodic death/melodic black, Dissection really pegs away at these genres. I'd say the production quality was quite raw, though you can hear the riffs pretty well in somewhat high definition. A real masterpiece of songwriting that is not copied by the band when they did riffs Jon pretty wrote all of the tracks and his vocals were dark and echo-sounding on the recording which makes the album sound more dark and dismal. He never was that well respected on leads, but harmonies he shines upon. Dissection hits home on this release if your forte is melodic metal in general.
I'd have to say all of the tracks are good on this recording. Nothing here is half assed or played without vigor. The recording could have been better, but I think that they really wanted to achieve a dark and dismal sound which is what they achieved here. Many musicians contributed to this release not only the 5 members, but some other guest back vocalists such as Legion (Marduk/Devian), IT (Abruptum) et al. They really added to the darkness of the release. Raw, decrepit and well played out album that was during a time where melodic stuff in the vein of black and melodic death were just emerging, Jon concocted many great melodies on this one.
Follow up from "The Somberlain", the music features melodic guitar with riffs that are fast picked and melodies with the main distorted guitar also showing up was some acoustic guitar pieces. But only short bits of those, this whole release mainly consists of a lot of use of standard tuning (what it sounds like at least) guitar with a lot of distortion. Jon's vocals are really dark and depressing. It really made an impact on the metal scene (the melodic death genre) back in the days when this sort of songwriting was just forming with a few other really well known bands such as Death, Darkane, and Soilwork were concocting.
I loved the riffs as a whole and this 8 track 43+ minute dark metal release really impressed me as a whole. Nothing more depressing than this album and I think that was Jon's goal to make music that was so desolate it would bring the listener down into the depressing mood entirely. Not something advisable to listen to if you are afflicted some sort of mood disorder. So in effect here, the music once again was solely original and well played out. The musicianship wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be, but that could be why the recording quality suffered greatly. However, this statement could be debatable.
If you're looking to hear some dark, depressing, melodic and overall original metal, "Storm of the Light's Bane" is there for you. A highlight in the band's shortened discography due to Jon's death, this album really is intense and atmospheric. There isn't a track on here that lacks originality or intensity except the instrumentals. All in all, a good album listened to in its entirety and definitely worth picking up if you love melodic metal. It really hit home with me and may do the same for you if you're a big fan of depressing metal with melodic and unrelenting intensity.
Melody has always been a difficult beast to handle in the metal world simply because if you use too much of it, you're likely to be placed in a group of horrific bands that you would never want to be in such company with. If you don't use any melody, then you had better have the riffs and everything else to impress. But if you're like Dissection and you know how to incorporate the perfect amount of melody with stunning riffs and a bleak and chilling atmosphere, then there should be no worries. "Storm of the Light's Bane" is infinitely better than the debut from these Swedes and it is praised the world over for its magnificence in conjuring the perfect aura for the band's black metal stylings.
The opening song of the record, "At the Fathomless Depths" sets the tone for the rest on the songs with a very haunting and looming feel of dread, while also possessing an almost classical sense to the music. The next song "Night's Blood" opens with a decent thrash riff, only to morph into a blistering melodic tremolo section followed by some brilliant midpaced riffage. While on the subject of riffs, there aren't many on this album, well in the traditional sense. The majority of the rhythms on "Storm of the Light's Bane" are your typical black metal tremolo patterns and the occasional thrashy riff, but for the most part the bulk of this record centers around the melodies that are so perfectly intertwined with the frenzied drumming and Nodtveit's tremendous vocals. "Soulreaper" is probably the best example of what Dissection sounds like when storming through at full force rather than focusing on melodies and atmosphere, settling for a blistering sound that could shatter bones.
Dissection also loved their acoustic guitars, making for some memorable moments on "Night's Blood" and "Thorns of Crimson Death," as they find their place in the songs as more of an interlude that raises the hair on one's neck rather than a showcase of technical proficiency. The intro to "Where Dead Angels Lie" is also one of the most memorable acoustic intros in recent memory as it makes way for the impeccable melodies that follow it. "Storm of the Light's Bane" isn't a record that should be written off as some boring Gothenburg melodeath album, but one that should be listened to on repeat for its sound is the equivalent of a raging ice storm that would bury a small village. If that doesn't sound appealing to you, then I would hope you find yourself caught in said blizzard.
"Where Dead Angels Lie"
"Retribution - Storm of the Light's Bane"
Originally written for Nightmare Reality Webzine.
Throughout Dissection’s career, the band only released three albums, though they have released a handful of EPs and other memorabilia. Their first two albums, The Somberlain and Storm of the Light’s Bane, define the band’s sound (I will probably save their third album, Reinkaos, for a different time when I have the chance). While I acknowledge The Somberlain as one of Dissection’s classics, personally, I couldn’t quite get into it because of its naïve nature and its superficial atmosphere.
Their second album, Storm of the Light’s Bane, refines and perfects the sound that Dissection had on The Somberlain. The productions is a considerable step up, with a very cold and trebly sound without sounding very noisy like most black metal at the time or as sterile as most modern extreme metal. Imagine yourself alone in a desolate land in the middle of a deadly snowstorm; that’s the equivalent of Storm of the Light’s Bane’s intense nature. The songs are very memorable; often times, catchy, making this very accessible for newcomers, but never getting boring even after a lot of listens.
The guitarists, Jon Nodtveidt and Johan Norman, are the center of focus to create this album with their brutal, but also melodic riffs and leads. There is a fair amount of riff harmonization, which, unlike a lot of Gothenburg melodic death metal bands, doesn’t sound as cheesy, but rather more harsh-sounding and, sometimes, very abrasive. There are quite a few outside elements; there are multiple cases of classical influences, thrash metal-esque riffs seen in songs such as ‘Retribution’, and ‘Thorns of Crimson Death’, and even some bluesy licks in the song, ‘Where Dead Angels Lie’.
Ole Ohman compliments the guitar work perfectly behind the drum kit with considerable but controlled use of blast beats and thrash metal-style patterns. The bass guitar follows the guitars for the most part, but the overall musicianship is so good that it’s not much of a problem.
The acoustic sections are also very welcome and are played in a similarly cold nature as the other instruments are; one of the best uses of them is during the track, ‘Soulreaper’, where they contrast with the intense speed and distorted rhythm guitars. There are also occasional sound effects that create a dense layer of ambience such as a bass drop in ‘Night’s Blood’ and faint explosions…without even using keyboards. Hell, the atmosphere is just as dense as Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse; if not, more.
Jon’s vocal work further enhances the music. To this day, he stands out with a very recognizable voice that should not be confused with other black metal vocalists. His ghostly shrieks sound very desolate and mournful, creeping the listener with every poetic line he recites. Speaking of which, the lyrics Jon wrote for Storm of the Light’s Bane are disturbingly descriptive, haunting, and well written. The following excerpt is from ‘Soulreaper’.
“Wail - oh desolate gale
Bring forth your bitter winds
Wail through heart and through soul
A poisoned kiss so deathly cold
Vanish grief and inner pain
Wail - oh desolate gale
through empires by blackened tears created
On the wings of a wind - The wind of wraith
whose scythe caresses in rage”
Strong and thoughtful songwriting with a very bleak atmosphere as the icing on the cake, Storm of the Light’s Bane is, without doubt, a classic for melodic black metal and my personal favorite black metal record. It’s really a pity to have a band like them release a masterful record then split off. Then again, Dissection’s discography has been very good (yes, that includes the underrated Reinkaos), that there was probably no need for them to continue.
When I first got this album, I didn't pay it nearly enough attention. I think this was due to my background in hardcore punk, a subculture burdened with a lot of musical prejudices and inhibitions. With its polished production and flamboyant fretwork, Storm... struck me as something I couldn't quite take seriously. It didn't fit my notion of what truly grim, aggressive music should sound like. I was also a bit disappointed with the riffing. True to punk form, I virtually ignored the leads in favor of the rhythm parts, which I thought should be the "meat" of any heavy music. Many of these struck me as too standard. The most obvious example of this is the cliche thrash riff that begins "Night's Blood." Perhaps it poisoned my reception of the rest of the album? Over the last couple years Dissection grew on me, but I continued to compare them unfavorably with their fellow-travelers in the Swedish scene (see my True Black Metal, Part 2 post). Now I have seen the light, er, darkness.
Over the last couple weeks, I have played this album over and over and over again. I felt so stupid for neglecting it. In fact, I think Storm... has become one of my "go-to" black metal albums, on par with Gorgoroth's Under The Sign of Hell. I couldn't decide on a favorite song...each time I listened, I would hear new depth and power in every track. One day I'd go back and listen again to my old standard "Soulreaper," the next I'd be drooling over "Unhallowed" or "Retribution." What was I hearing, that I wasn't when I first listened ?
First, Dissection is grim as fuck and aggressive as all hell. Jon Nodtveidt's flair for melody only adds to the absolutely ripping feel of the music. And the fancy production doesn't detract from it. In fact, it's an essential part of the package. Every note is placed so carefully that the music would lose something if it wasn't as clear as a glacial lake. And, uh, the vocals dude. The vocals. There is nothing remotely accessible about this album, because Jon is standing athwart the gates and snarling like a three-headed hound.
Second, Dissection are brilliant riffwriters. The thing is, the rhythm parts aren't the center of the music, and attempting to treat them as such (as I did) will only make you miss the point. At its heart, Storm of the Light's Bane is about harmonized lead melodies, from the repetitive keening of "Where Dead Angels Lie" to the ecstatic frenzy of the chorus in "Soulreaper." As far as rhythm riffs go, Jon does indeed use a lot of standard patterns, but he gives us new versions of these riffs that are full of personality. They're also usually better than the originals. And you can't talk about Dissection's songwriting without talking about their gift for arrangement. In an album this riffy, it's a wonder the songs don't fall apart. Instead, each passage flows into the next one with the inexorability of fate. Through this deft sequencing Dissection multiply their riffpower and build grand narratives. Everything is going somewhere, and it's always exciting to hear what comes next.
Third, Dissection is easily confused with pretentious bands because they have a common ambition. The difference is that Dissection actually pull it off. They're not pretending to be shredmasters with the souls of Romantic composers, that's what they actually are. For Metallica, those florid lead embellishments and quasi-medieval acoustic interludes were moments of unintentional comic relief in the midst of bloated pop-thrash songs. For Dissection, they're part and parcel of a fully realized vision. Sure, Dissection write polished and sophisticated music. Sure, they completely disregard punk (read: modernist) hangups about "good taste." It doesn't make the music any less worth taking seriously.
Re-listening to Dissection reminded me that every album is a singular phenomenon, and you can never go into a listening experience simply hoping for the music to conform to your ideas of what it should be. Great music always confounds expectations and complicates assumptions. When I heard this for the first time, I was so wrapped up in my (newly formed) ideas about what black metal should be that I forgot to hear Dissection telling me what it is.
(Originally written for Trial By Ordeal, www.trialbyordeal666.blogspot.com)
This review was originally written for http://metalneverlies.com
This CD is epic, chilling, and brutal, but most of all, this CD is a masterpiece. Don't let the soft intro fool you, Storm of the Light's Bane (1995) is one of the most solid pieces of metal I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. What's good about this album? A lot of things really. The riffs are icy cold and the drumming will make your bones shiver. Finally, the vocals will kick in and send chills down your spine. This CD sounds like somebody who is suffering from the occult in the middle of a blizzard in a northern forest of Scandinavia.
The first of many epic songs on this CD is “Night's Blood.” This song is amazing. The drums are relentless, the riffs feel like a furious ice storm, and the vocals sound so sinister that you can almost feel like you are in the very place I described earlier. Dissection's work here is flawless. I'm listening and oh, what's this? Of course there is a perfectly placed acoustic passage here that makes the song that much more atmospheric and awesome. “Unhallowed” is next, and wouldn't you know this song is just as brutal as the first. The guitar solo sounds like mystic powers and shattering ice. It's awesome. “Where Dead Angels Lie” changes it up a bit. This song is a bit slower, but it makes up for it with darkness in it's lyrics and tone. The title track is another pitch-black and cold song that's almost as awesome as “Night's Blood” and “Unhallowed,” but the real gem on this release is the eight-minute epic: “Thorns of Crimson Death.”
Everything about that song is perfect. It builds up with more chilling, ice cold riffs and dark drumwork into an instrumental break of epic proportions which will totally blow you away. After this song is over, the album could be done and be fine just like that, but Dissection was actually nice enough to include “Soulreaper” a beast clocking in at 6:57, and a mysterious outro that will leave you shivering in a corner somewhere.
I'm completely serious when I say that this CD is a vital part of any collection. If you don't like this album, then you probably don't like music. Storm of the Light's Bane (1995) is Dissection's best effort, and a masterpiece that anyone can appreciate and enjoy.
"Storm of the Light's Bane" is the second full-length album from the masters of Swedish Black Metal, Dissection. Recorded in Hellspawn/Unisound Studios in March 1995, and released the same year, this album had some big shoes to fill with regard to their debut L.P. "The Somberlain."
The album begins with the intro, "At the Fathomless Depths" which has a great classical feel. Immediately, you get a sense of the difference in production on this album. This sounds a bit less raw and more streamlined, certainly not in a bad way. The guitar tone is very cold and is suited for the wintry cover art as well as the lyrics and music contained here. This intro piece sets the tone very well, before "Night's Blood" explodes into your ears.
The first song showcases the very tight playing of this band complete with new guitarist, Johan Norman. The melodies are dark and furious while the vocals possess a haunting effect. The Iron Maiden influence can be heard in the guitar harmonies, showing a bit of this band's influences. "Night's Blood" is very fast-paced and shreds right through the listener like the winds of a Northern blizzard. Then there is a slower, accoustic section which does well to add to the atmosphere. It is somewhat reminiscent to the first track on The Somberlain, which features a similar passage. Epic and majestic, this album gets off to a great start.
The freezing Black Metal chaos does not let up on the second song. "Unhallowed" blasts from the start and then goes into a somewhat more mid-paced riff. Jon Nödtveidt's scathing vocals are quite unique, I think, and are in top form here. There is absolutely no mistaking him for anyone else. The lyrics are well articulated and the cold Black Metal melodies make this a nocturnal masterpiece. And, as usual, when solos are utilized they actually mean something and add to the integrity of the song. It may sound repetitious, but this is yet another classic song. Timeless and superior to most others. It must also be said that when Dissection uses clean or accoustic passages, it is done far better than anyone else.
The next song is perennial crowd favorite, and a staple of the live show until the end, "Where Dead Angels Lie." This song is slower than the previous ones, and probably the catchiest one on the album. This, of course, makes this the most accessible track here, I would imagine. This album really displays a band that has cemented their distinct sound. While the trace influences of Maiden and Mayhem are present, this is very much a Dissection album. Whereas others simply copy their favorite bands, Dissection take these influences and incorporate them into a broader sound all their own. "Where Dead Angels Lie" has a creepy and melancholic feel. This is aided by the glass-shattering scream near the end. The cold wintry imagery conveyed in the lyrics of this song, and the rest of the album, fits perfectly with the sound and the aesthetic presentation of the album.
"Retribution - Storm of the Light's Bane" speeds things back up, and then transitions into an old school thrash riff. The hateful venom spewing from Jon's lips is like a battle cry. The band, very confidently, goes from tremolo picking to thrash and into more traditional metal riffing. The cold and epic atmosphere is still very much present and there is no weakness to be found on this album.
The icy acoustic guitar that begins "Thorns of Crimson Death" introduces another melancholy and deathlike melody. The song is carried by a mid-paced thrash riff and Jon's poisonous vocals take your mind beyond reality. The song then speeds back up as the freezing fury of Black Metal i sunleashed once more, in full force. This single melody kills 99% of entire albums that have been released since. Again, an acoustic passage adds another dimension to the song. This is done perfectly, and not in a cheesy way such as countless other bands. Then the epic, Hellish main riff returns to carry the listener into the abyss once more. Also worth noting, perhaps, is the backing vocalist, Erik "Legion" Hagstedt.
Nearing the end of the album, we have one of my personal favorite Dissection songs, "Soulreaper." The main guitar riff is typical Scandinavian tremolo picked mayhem, and the song is fast and possessed like a mighty winter storm. Near the middle of the song, one can hear acoustic guitar being played along with the electric. It makes for a nice effect, and is maybe done somewhat better than when Darkthrone tried this on "A Blaze in the Northern Sky." Tony "IT" Särkkä makes an appearance, contributing backing vocals here. I have absolutely no complaints about this, in any way. Very few bands are capable of producing a single song of such quality, let alone and entire album. At this stage, Dissection clearly had no peers.
Finally, to close the album out, Alexandra "Axa" Balogh's "No Dreams Breed in Breathless Sleep" leaves a lasting impression of melancholy and death. This simple piano piece fits very well and accentuates the atmosphere of the album.
I cannot say whether or not "Storm of the Light's Bane" ranks above "The Somberlain", as they each have their own identity while being similar. In this case, I do not wish to compare these two classic albums. Dissection is no mere band. Their albums aren't simply music. They are nocturnal rituals. You do not merely listen to Dissection, you experience it...
It is hard to describe the influence that this band and this particular album have had on me. In the few recordings I've done with past projects it has been noted by the few people, who actually know about black/death metal, how much influence Storm of the Light's Bane (SOTLB) is in it. Jon Nodveidt is one of my personal heroes not only for the impact his music has on black and death metal but also for the obvious passion he put into his music. I note my influence for them so much that when Nodveidt died I had the Dissection cross tattooed on my right arm.
Storm of the Light's Bane came out during a year that was the heyday of death metal; a year marked by timeless masterpieces. Released alongside At the Gates's Slaughter of the Soul, Dark Tranquillity's The Gallery, Cryptopsy's None So Vile, and Suffocation's Pierced from Within, it was released during a noteworthy period of the genre. Each of the above mentioned albums have had a great deal of impact on technical death metal and melodic death metal, with SOTLB being at the top.
SOTLB is one of the rarest, perfect blends of blackened death metal, with a heavy dose of melody. The production on this album isn't perfect, however, it bridges between the low-fi quality of black metal and the generally cleaner quality of melodic death, which is exactly what SOTLB is a perfect amalgamation of the two styles. The guitars are distant sounding and chillingly melodic inducing a sense of ethereal wonder. The drums are fierce and change accordingly with the traditional blastbeats and chaotic fills. Nodveidt's vox are acceptional, an echoey screech reminscent of a demonic prophet. The lyrics are darkly poetic and are the perfect compliment to this album.
Essentially Dissection's Storm of the Light's Bane is, in any sense of the word, the perfect blackened death metal album. It is a benchmark in its genre and is worthy of being remembered if not for its impact but for the memory of its creator, Jon Nodveidt.
For most people, black metal means face paint, fake blood, swords, leather, synth all over and as little riffs as possible. This description, as awful as it sounds, is often correct. Only a ridiculously small amount of black metal bands deliver a product worthy of recognition but these few are not only good, they’re excellent. One of those legendary formations, originating from Sweden, is Dissection and they have managed to leave their mark with only two releases. Maybe their name doesn’t reach as far in the metal universe as Bathory, Burzum or Ulver but the band’s classic masterpiece, Storm of The Light’s Bane, is one of black metal’s most known, respected and owned album.
This particular release may not offer the “purest” black sound but it does have all of the genre’s personality without the decorations and fake vampire teeth. Dissection is straightforward and somewhat influenced by death and melodic death, they have a sound of their own, unique and genre-bending. Storm of The Light’s Bane was their second and most accomplished release. It lasts less than 50 minutes and contains only 6 full-length tracks, excluding intro and outro but it packs enough energy and talent to impress the most doubtful of listeners. Dissection’s entire popularity and renown is almost solely built on these 6 songs and that is, I do believe, one serious accomplishment.
The album begins with an epic and dark intro, made with heavy percussion and what one could call a typical atmospheric black metal riff. Then the albums dives right into the heavy, powerful and fast-paced riff of Night’s Blood, one of the 3 highlights of this release. This song lasts almost 7 minutes and represents fully Dissection’s mixing of the genres. Melody and aggression perfectly blend together and delivered with an overall black metal texture. It’s a very catchy song and one of Dissection most popular anthems, along with the other two highlights of this album: the title track and Thorns of Crimson Death. The former is packed with death influence, contains a large amount of well-executed riffs, and offers a short but satisfying solo, all that beautifully wrapped by a flawless drumming performance. Heck, if it wasn’t of the distortion in the guitars, this could almost be a Slayer song. The last but not the least of this Dissection triumvirate is Thorns of Crimson Death. That song is the band’s ninth symphony, nothing short of that. The most epic, melancholic and dark piece of melodic black metal one could find. It lasts just over eight minutes and is definitely the band’s best recording. The song doesn’t seem stretched or pushed further than it should be, its progression is continuous and leads to a powerful and memorable climax; truly one of the ten best black metal songs. The album wraps with a sad piano ending that cools down all the energy that was delivered and the listener is left with two choices: listen to it again, or listen to it again.
This album is the result of a blend of genres and the meeting of four very talented and passionate musicians. The guitars are strong, original and gloomy from start to end and Ole Öhman’s drumming is flawless. However, regardless of its professionalism, what struck me most on Storm of The Light’s Bane are Jon Nödtveidt vocals. His icy and impassioned raspy growl thunders all across the album without a moment of rest. He screams at the top of his lungs the lyrics he wrote, lyrics that could be described as an English version of Baudelaire’s work, dripping symbolism and darkness. This man gave the performance of his life at 20 years of age. So if you’re a fan of black metal, this album is necessary, a classic in the making and if you’re not into the genre, well, you should still give it a listen; you just might find yourself strangely drawn to it…
Dissection's debut album The Somberlain saw the young band make their mark on the blooming Swedish scene with their dark, epic style of black metal mixed with elements of melodic death metal and old heavy metal. Good as that debut was, there were some thngs that could be noticeably better; on Storm of the Light's Bane, not only do the band fix their mistakes, but make a collection of songs that put them among the best metal bands seen from Europe in the past 20 years; and leave an everlasting impression upon the metal scene with its darkness, its splendor, and its undeniable emotional power. SotLB witnesses the band taking their sound into darker, more emotional, and epic territory; it would become the watermark of their career.
What makes this album consistently stand the test of time is the impeccable songwriting. Each transition smoothly leads one passage to another, and the riffs are textured upon one another to create a strong change in mood and atmosphere. Special attention is paid small fills in guitar and drums to create a more dynamic and interesting listen; not quite what you would call "technical," but each member certainly pushed their skills to the test here. The variety in structure and technique is displayed perfectly on "Night's Blood," which toggles between fierce, ripping death metal and fret-scorching Maiden-esque harmonies. The acoustic break in the mid-section helps alleviate the cold, desolate atmosphere, which reaches a peak with the passion-soaked riffs thereafter. It's these moments that propel the listener through the dark, wintry landscapes of the album. Though most bands in this genre will sadly rehash one idea for another from song to song, no such thing happens here; the ambition and variety in the riffs is nothing short on incredible, from the evil and foreboding classic "Unhallowed" to the cathartic and desperate chorus of "Soulreaper." Dissection also show an unrivalled ability to write songs of epic proportions without becoming repetitive or boring. One element that adds to this is the fact that they don't rely on keyboards or other instruments for emotion and atmosphere; it's just the band, no bullshit guaranteed. "Thorns of Crimson Death" clearly shows this. The sprawling, melancholy guitars and emotionally charged lyrics take the listener on a dark journey through cloudy, windy winter plains, and the chugging guitars on the verse prove that things can get emotional without losing the fierce and mysterious edge of the album.
The guitars, of course, are the highlight of the album. Dissection apply melodic death metal riffs to a black metal aesthetic; and while this may sound bad on paper, it works wonders. There are some straight death metal riffs, mainly on "Retribution-- Storm of the Light's Bane." Aside from this, elaborate harmonized guitars and leads change places with thrash-oriented alternate picking and icy tremolo picking. Things lie on the more melodic end of the spectrum, but this is the charm of the album. Some old-school solos appear every now and then, but are usually limited to technical harmonies. Sparkling acoustic guitars pop up every now and then to take the listener to deeper depths of atmosphere, and usually work perfectly in the context of the music.
Ole's drum work is a cornerstone for the genre; sure, this type of thing has been done a million times before, but never has it fit the music so well. The guitars and drums are incredibly tight and glued together, and Ole's transitions meld perfectly with the riffs. He does stick out on his own, though; there are some insanely fast double bass runs here, especially on "Thorns of Crimson Death" before the acoustic break. Of course, there are plenty of blastbeats, but they are tastefully used to further the darkness of the songs, especially "Unhallowed" and "Soulreaper." His consistency, smoothness and confidence behind the kit are a hard to come by in metal, and the drum performance on this album definitely echo through today's bands.
Jon's vocals and lyrics are what really set the atmosphere here; his throaty and chilling rasp can grow into blood-soaked shrieks, and his projection and deliverance as a vocalist never falters. There are handfuls of memorable lines and vocal patterns, so there are definitely lines to remember this album by. It goes without saying that he has one of the most recognizable voices in this corner of metal, and this album is what made it so. The dark and highly atmospheric lyrics also aid in giving the listener visions of empty winter plains, and feelings of lonliness and desolation. Jon's performance on "Soulreaper" is a high standard in the amount of passion that has been seen in a single black metal vocalist, and the ferocity behind the vocals never loses it edge, even with consistent listens.
And of course, the production is classic. The drums have a punchy, huge sound, the guitars use a very clean but fitting tone, and Jon's vocals have the signature element of reverb for plenty of atmosphere. It is definitely clean, which may turn off those who seek a more controlled and obscure sound. But for the vast, ultimately epic and passionate scope of the music, it works perfectly.
Though some may call it overrated, there is no denying the pure legendary power, atmosphere, and emotion behind this release. This certainly makes my list of metal's best in recent years. If you don't enjoy this release, you'll at least understand why it has the influence it does, even today. And hell, it has one of the best album covers ever... What's not to love about that?
There was a time I stayed away from Dissection because of several things I have read about them. The most important one was the label "Black Metal" they always received. For me personally, there's two sides of Black Metal, one is the almost radio friendly, drowned in keyboards version as performed by the likes Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth and there is the extremely raw, darker version as performed by mostly Norwegian bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone. The first annoys me because of those terrible gothic interludes and too dominant keyboards, the latter because it's just too heavy for me. Putting Dissection into that mold, together with quite biased stories of a brutal Satanic murder by mainman Jon Nödtveidt, were things that scared me off from the Swedish band for a long time. Until the time I actually HEARD them, the time I actually heard the masterpiece 'Storm Of The Light's Bane' to be exact.
Dissection's second full length album has got to be one of the most brilliant extreme Metal albums I have ever heard. This is not Black Metal, this is adventurous and refreshing extreme Metal! Sure, there are some Black Metal elements to be heard throughout the album, but melodic Death Metal is at least just as dominant on the album. And there are dozens of influences from other (sub)genres present as well. Nödtveidt was one of the most talented songwriters of his time and 'Storm Of The Light's Bane' is, in the humble opinion of yours truly, his finest hour.
And the Satanism? Well, it should be displayed in the lyrics. And to be honest with you, I think some of the lyrics are poetic highlights. Take these from 'Night's Blood': "I drown in the color of your eye, for a black heart will only find beauty in darkness, I breathe its eternity to absorb the sky, where the shadows of Death may lie", or the opening lines to the title track: “Morning, o dreadful dawn, spread your pale dim light, reign for the last time over lands once so bright.” Beautiful! If Satanism is what inspired mr. Nödtveidt to write that, he can be as Satanic as he wants!
On to the music. After the intro 'At The Fathomless Depths', which sets the mood very well, but probably would have been a bit better if it was half a minute shorter, 'Night's Blood' starts of with some killer Thrash riffing! To me, as a huge Thrash fan, this is of course a good thing! There are some blastbeats sporadically, but there is enough variation in the drumming to make it interesting enough even for a listener who doesn't like them. Ole Öhman seems to really know when it's functional and when not. The riffs in this song really made it for me. The acoustic interlude and the very Maiden-esque riffs following that interlude show the compositoric versatility of the band. With this track, Dissection is off to a flying start. Definitely one of the best tracks of the album.
'Unhallowed' shows the Black/Death Metal side of the band a bit more, but there are plenty of melodic riffs and leads to make this song interesting for an open-minded fan of Iron Maiden or any melodic Thrash band. The chorus to the track is almost catchy! The only criticism I have on this track is that it gets a little too repetitive near the end. For the last two minutes or so, the same riff and lead part keep repeating with only a little variation. The track probably would have been better if it was six minutes instead of seven and a half. Great track nevertheless!
The following track ‘Where Dead Angels Lie’ was actually a quite successful track for the band. A video and an EP were made for the song and the audience seemed to like it. That’s not without any reason: ‘Where Dead Angels Lie’ is an amazing song! Starting out with an acoustic intro, turning into a song which could best be described as a Death Metal ballad, I guess. The guitar strumming is quite similar to that of a ballad, even though the guitars are distorted throughout the song. There are some really nice Maiden-esque leads throughout the song and especially the choruses are very moving. I wouldn’t see any other band labelled “Black Metal” do something like this!
The intro to ‘Retribution – Storm Of The Light’s Bane’ shows just about every time feel Ole Öhman can add to the song within less than a minute and he does a very good job with that. It gives the opening riff several dimensions, even though the riff is no different. The song has several killer, almost Thrashy riffs and an amazing guitar solo. The structure of the song is almost a journey, with every riff exposing another dark landscape. This song shows how outstanding Dissection’s musicians are, with the drumming and the guitar riffs really lifting this song to a higher level.
Next up is the intro to ‘Thorns Of Crimson Death’...WOW! Nothing short of amazing! Something that applies to the entire song! This is really one of the highlights of the album! It’s also the longest track on the album, but it’s worth every one of the eight minutes! The clean intro is beautiful and leads into a wonderful melodic intro, but labelling riff-by-riff with a superlative would be a complete waste of space. To be short, this is one of the best melodic Death Metal songs ever to be written. Even more than the previous song, ‘Thorns Of Crimson Death’ is a journey, an adventure, litterally leading through unexposed areas of extreme Metal. The structure of the song is perfect, as it constantly builds up another layer, another climax. The number one highlight of the album.
After that, ‘Soulreaper’ is a bit of a letdown to me. It’s not really a bad song, but this is definitely the most Black Metal song of the album. It starts out with a complete overdose of blastbeats and those dissonant chords which are so typical for the Black Metal genre. I must admit the second half of the song is saved by more varied drumming and a little more variation in the guitar work, but I just think that ‘Thorns Of Crimson Death’ would have made a better closer for this album, also because of its structure.
After the album closes with the very nice piano outro ‘No Dreams Breed In Breathless Sleep’ and all I can conclude is that I should have started listening to this band much earlier. I truly missed out something by leaving them for what they were. Dissection was a unique band and has unleashed two unquestionable masterpieces upon mankind, being this album and its predecessor ‘The Somberlain’, with ‘Storm Of The Light’s Bane’ being slightly superior over the debut.
Storm of the Light's Bane is basically where melodic death and black metal started, and it has never been done better than this. Dissection were truly ahead of the game in their heyday and this is one of the all time classics which no metalhead should ignore.
The guitar tone is very dry, yet has enough warmth in the more melodic passages to create a great diversity of tones compared to the icy cold sound that the drums create. The vocals on this release are absolutely perfect for the band's sound. Jon Nodtveidt's voice is dark and shrieks with intensity and vile emotion as he screams throughout the record's entirety.
From the eerie notes of the intro to the last passages of the piano outro this record brings in a dark and cold atmoshpere truly worthy of its black metal title, but with enough melody to enjoy the blissful airs and submit yourself to the mighty Dissection. The songwriting is excellent all throughout the record and just about every song on here is a classic of the genre. ''Night's Blood'' kicks things off in high gear with catchy riffs being played at a furious pace and a drum sound so cold and distant one can't help but cringe to the ideas put forth by this music. The band was hitting on all cylinders on tracks such as ''Unhallowed'' , the epic headbanger of a tune with awesome melodic elements,and the title track, which features a particularly awesome vocal performance from Nodtveidt.
Then comes the track that Dissection is probably most remembered for. ''Thorns of Crimson Death'' is a classic, withering away the listener and keeping one in awe at the sheer greatness and epicness of the music put forth. It kicks off with a light and melodic passage, only to erupt into a very epic riff which can only reflect the imagery of passing through an immense snowstorm and feeling the old creep up on you as though it's about to take you over. The chorus is also very epic and the famous line ''Dark Were the thorns of Crimson Death'' is followed up by the monster verse riff. The songs is very well crafted and constantly keeps you interested.
''Soulreaper'' is another standout track which is also considered a classic by now. Its chorus is very memorable and the riffs are very righteous. The piano outro ''No Dreams Breed in Breathless Sleep'' finishes the album with a classy touch that solidifies the icy feel of the record.
What is so great about this release is that despite having a very atmospheric feel to it, there is also room to enjoy the riffs and the interplay between the instruments. This is an album that has stood the test of time, and a must own for any metalhead.
I don't like throwing 100's around, and I prefer using them wisely. This release, however, deserves a 100. Not only does it define melodic black metal (that's right, all death metal influences are reduced to a trifle on this beast), but it does it VERY well, and without keyboards. Part of the perfection on this album is due to the production, which is very icy and cold, cold enough to make Immortal freeze. The guitars are very midrangy, but also very crisp, which makes it even colder, and is something few black metal bands are able to do. The drums don't really hammer, or at least are very well used. The cymbals don't stick out, and the drums aren't the typical holocaust that most bm bands become. This is how to effectively blastbeat, as Ohman mixes the blastbeats with other more relevant beats.
As far as the lyrical matter goes, this Nodtveight soars above everybody else. I literally cannot find a single fault with the lyrics, as with the music, too. The lyrics effectively deal with sadness without sounding brooding, anger without sounding aggro, evil without sounding cliche`, and still manage to be very kickass. Congrats, Nodtveight.
However, production and performance are only half the equation; Yngwie Malmsteen can shred like hell and often has killer production, but his music is still average. Marduk have great production and smashing performance, but are still mediocre; to be truly great, you have to be a killer songwriter. And here, Nodveight also delivers. I literally cannot find a single fault with Nodveight's songwriting. With most artists, even those I love dearly (Like Mayhem, Borknagar, Ulver, Dawn, Burzum, Nargaroth, Manowar, etc...) I can still find fault, and even on their best albums, there are still these "filler" moments that I hate. Not to disappoint, there is absolutely NO filler here. Every single note played here is awesome.
And that is my very feeling about this CD. I literally cannot find a single fault with this CD. I cannot give it any rating below 100, because I cannot find a single thing wrong with it. This CD belongs in a(n) (un)holy league of its own, along with other classics such as Demilich's Nespithe, Burzum's Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, and Ulver's Bergtatt.
“Storm of the Lights Bane” is the best Black/Death album ever. Period. A handful of bands with a similar musical direction may have come close – such as fellow Swedes Naglfar with their outstanding “Sheol” album –, but in the end, none have ever been able to match the pure majesty and genius that is “SotLB.”
The atmosphere this album creates is one of utter darkness, coldness, hatred, and desperation, and the way the music and lyrics perfectly complement each other in creating this atmosphere is remarkable. Yes, I’m talking about LYRICS here!! As opposed to many other Black Metal albums, the lyrics on “SotLB” are actually worth mentioning because they are supremely well-crafted and far better than the usual “Hail Satan” stuff we get to hear all the time. (No offense, Satan!) The thing that particularly surprises me is that these lyrics were written by people whose native language isn’t English. In comparison to the early efforts of other Scandinavian Black Metal bands like Emperor or Immortal, whose mastery of the English language was impressive in a negative and sometimes even laughable way, the lyrics on here are superior in every respect and certainly deserving of the highest praise.
With regard to the music, there is not much to say which hasn’t been said before. Altogether, it is simply the ideal blend between pure Black Metal and Death Metal with a slight Gothenburg twist (as evidenced by some typical “Maidenesque” guitar leads). Thanks to the very fitting production, which manages to be crystal clear and pretty raw at the same time, the sound the band has put together on this recording is heavy as f*** and colder than liquid nitrogen. Yet although the album is very homogeneous and the atmosphere it evokes for its entire duration is one of pure frost, the individual songs happen to be miraculously distinct and memorable – thanks to a perfect balance between faster (this is how to effectively use blast beats!) and slower passages, utter mayhem and fragile soundscapes. There are indeed not very many extreme Metal albums on which you can almost immediately identify every single song, no matter which part of it you’re listening to.
It’s true that Jon Nödtveidt is a bit of a weirdo (what the hell is “Anti-Cosmic Metal of Death” supposed to mean???) and that his decision to resurrect the band (although he is the only remaining original member) will very likely backfire, since the album that comes after this baby can only look pale in comparison – unfortunately the rather mediocre “Maha Kali” single seems to confirm these apprehensions. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that this album is pretty damn near perfect in every way. Worship it or die!!!
Choicest cuts: Night’s Blood, Unhallowed, Thorns of Crimson Death (best Black Metal song ever?!), Soulreaper
The metal community often seems to follow something akin to Newton's third law of motion. If something is highly praised and venerated by one camp, there's bound to be another subset that views the same article as being inherently worthless. No better illustrated is this principle than with the extreme reactions generated by a band like Nile, who are praised as remarkable innovators and creative genius by one camp of metalheads while slagged as being pointless blasturbation with dubious lyrical content by another. The truth is often somewhere in the middle, though. We should avoid fellating releases out of hand, but at the same time we should be able to recognise something for what it is and give it just consideration by that criteria. We should not reduce metal to music that exists solely so we can have a good time and headbang or drink beer to with our friends, but it is also necessary to recognise that metal does not belong on some overarching, ideological pedestal. Only in the rarest of cases does metal actually seek to make some bold leap that will make its listeners reevaluate their understanding of music or lifestyle, and in many of these instances the results are less than exemplary. We cannot, no matter how we try, separate metal from rock music any more than we could say that Jethro Tull isn't a rock band because they use flutes, write fifty minute songs about esoteric topics and aren't afraid to deviate from 4/4 time. It seems that many people in the black/death metal community have missed the point of what metal has always been, so wrapped up are they in the often imagined nihilistic, chaotic or neoclassical tendencies (I'm talking about music here, not ideology) of their favourite genres. Metal is not some reactionary counter to rock music and never has been. The earliest black metal bands owed more to rock n roll than most people realise, and every other subgenre of metal has always had intrinsic ties with rock music, from the overt classic rock-isms of some of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal to the punk-infused prototypes of thrash and death metal.
Ask the members of Dissection what they were listening to when constructing this album and they'll probably tell you, "lots of Iron Maiden, and some old death/thrash metal". It really shows, too, in the way the melodies on offer here are constructed. Nevertheless, this does have more of a black metal aesthetic to it, a feeling of overriding tension and chilly remorselessness that is difficult to trace to vocals and production alone, though both definitely help. Is it anthemic? Certainly in parts. Is it catchy? Well, some of the guitar melodies here are quite inescapable in that "stuck in your head for days" kind of sense. I wouldn't say this release is at the pinnacle of its genre by any means, yet there is a certain strength to it, a captivating grandeur and propulsiveness that makes the listener sit up and take notice of what's going on.
What differentiates this from its predecessor, "The Somberlain", and similar bands, such as Sacramentum, is a less dense seeming approach to songwriting and playing that leaves room for all the instruments to highlight their own melodic ideas. It's focussed more on the individual power of certain riff/melody combinations than on a wall of atmospheric sound. One might argue that this makes the album more immediate, more easily penetrated and thus ultimately less fulfilling, however it should also be remembered that this kind of up-front melodic attack is what heavy metal was founded upon and there is a certain inherent strength to it. One mustn't mistake this for pop sensibility or ear candy, because this is an album that radiates purpose and a definite feeling of cold, methodical strength. Dan Swano has done a decent job of the production here, which highlights the (dare I say it?) grimness of some of these melodies and the strength of some of the chunky, palm muted riffs. There's a load of reverb drenching everything, but it's handled effectively so that the instruments are not drowned in a wash of audial backlash, and the drums, though suffering from a distinct lack of high frequencies (the cymbals are nearly inaudible!) sound mighty and powerful. The Vocals of Jon Nödtveidt are a midrange, icy wail that carries a fair amount of expression and power, along with a certain biting rhythmic intensity that adds to the catchy nature of some of these refrains. The album is short and doesn't overstay its welcome, with six true songs, all of unique composition and dynamic, an excellent intro and a truly forgettable piano closer. Guitar playing is quite excellent, with particularly nice attention paid to the slow, minor keyed lead guitar passages that show up at just the right moments, not so much as wild heavy metal solos (there really aren't any) but more as sudden apparitions of stark, sorrowful melody that command the listener's full attention.
My favourite piece on here is also coincidentally the most overtly heavy metal one, "Retribution - Storm of the Lightsbane". I love that crunchy main verse riff with its spastic, oddly timed drum fills and the chantable chorus, and the harmonized guitar bridge in the middle, calling to mind a slightly more morbid Iron Maiden circa "Powerslave", is truly exellent and one of the factors that made me really take notice of this band in the first place back when this album was released. "Night's Blood" is probably the other highlight, going through a wealth of creative, well placed time and mood changes and some stellar use of melody. Some of the other tracks are not nearly as strong, but most do contain their fair share of memorable ideas. Dissection at this point definitely had a sense for craftsmanship, and it's often been immitated by many later bands but never with nearly as much effectiveness. Respect the innovators and deny the clones, I say, and give this album the acolades it deserves.
Despite my praise, though, I find myself not being nearly as excited by "Storm of the Light's Bane" as I used to be. I can still recommend this wholeheartedly, especially to those who don't normally go in for black metal, yet I feel in some senses that this approach to a more accessible form of black/death has overstayed its welcome. I'm not even going to compare this to the so-called Gothenberg bands (though admittedly the similarity is present), but there seem to have been a host of followers, mostly emerging from Dissection's homeland of Sweden, who have milked this style for nearly all it was worth and run it into the ground. It's sad that this album has suffered as a result, yet it definitely doesn't seem to pack the punch it did for me (and, I suspect, many others) back in 1996. I do find myself coming back to it periodically however, and lately it has been in my stereo a little more often than usual, which I guess is promising. Essentially, this disc won't challenge many people, yet it does carry a distinct aura of feeling and passion that many modern purveyors lack. Give it the credit it deserves and do not dismiss it out of hand as sweet, accessible cheese, for this assessment misses the point of what Dissection is really about, namely, bombastic heavy metal with just a touch more extremity to give it that extra push into something a little bit more morbid.
This is often seen as an absolute classic, essential to every Metalhead’s collection, a masterful representation of the better elements of the Extreme Metal spectrum. Thus, you’d expect to find unparalleled creativity and near flawless song writing.
Yet, here we find an over-reliance on recursive verse/chorus structures rather than the impeccable song-craftsmanship that is inherent of the apex of Death and Black Metal. The tendency of “Storm of the Light’s Bane” is to descend from a melancholically driven melody into an anthemic rock-inspired “hook” that are nectareous in nature. This results in a sentimental and charming soundscape that is fruity and appealing, yet vulgar and lacking in depth. There is definitely potential for a more fulfilling aesthetic, but too much emphasis is placed on catchiness, rather than an esoteric approach to song writing.
The streamlined modern production helps maintain the congenial nature of this record. Of the riffs, too few are captivating or invigorating to a keen listener and for the most part this is meagre entertainment. Similarities can be traced to Iron Maiden and Necrophobic, with the anthemic rock influence of the former and the fast-paced melodic riffing of the latter, albeit extremely watered down.
The little thought that has been used to hone the structures is dilapidated under insipid drumming, which is sloppy, being constantly overplayed, with a reliance on “blasting” and messy syncopation. Whilst, the furore of the drumming hits fever pitch, all is suddenly calmed by an acoustic passage. Yet, the implementation of these is disastrous, as the fibre of the songs is rent into incoherence by the irrelevance of said endeavours. The expectation of a higher order shouldn’t seem too foreign to proficient musicians, but again the theory that writing meaningful music is beyond most rises to the fore.
The grandiloquence of this release is brought down, shattered into a million pieces by the ineptitude of the band to play with direction, passion and a willingness to chaperone a message beyond the superficial guise of misanthropy. This is a bastardisation of all that Black/Death Metal stands for as an authoritative and communicative art-form, defying the paradigm with a non-existent ideological core, instead choosing to please the masses with highly accessible techniques akin to rock music.
From the onset of Storm of the Light's Bane it is quite easy to see why Dissection's brand of aggressive and yet melodic black metal is devastating. The haunting, death march like intro melds into "Night's Blood" which seems to hit like a ton of bricks across the skull. But the pace does not stop there, rather it continues through the majority of the album.
Most songs are segmented into the harsh, speedy sections and then the slower more harmony driven areas, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The stand out tracks are "Night's Blood", "Unhallowed", and the amazingly complex "Thorns of Crimson Death". The album closes with a very beautiful and yet sorrowful piano piece; a quite intriguing choice for this brutal and yet melodious offering from this unbelievable black metal band.
The vocal performance by Jon Nodtveidt is top notch. Fans of black metal without the shrieks and growls will be pleased with this album. Though there is still that sinister, haunting edge in his delivery that chills your bones.
This album is an excellent starting point for those unfamiliar with Dissection. 100% for being nearly perfect in all categories.
Despite containing only six real songs, an intro and an outro, this album is perhaps the most perfect, evil sounding experience of all time. Every single note on this recording oozes of evil, darkness, despair and blasphemy. You can actually hear all this on the album. Musically, it’s black metal, very melody-driven, and all melodies here are instantly memorable and refuses to leave your brain. They fare well in the speed stakes (“Night’s Blood “and “Unhallowed” for instance) but vary themselves greatly, both within and between the songs. They have managed to spew forth a very cold sound, without making it sterile. The production is crystal clear.
It’s hard to single out specific favourites, as they change depending on your mood for the day, but “Thorns of Crimson Death” must be one of the best songs ever written, being to Dissection what “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was for Metallica a long time ago, bearing some amazing riffage and a truly epic feel that leave you gasping with delight.
“Where Dead Angels Lie” is an eerie, slow piece with lots of emotion, a grand chorus and some amazing lyrics. Pictures of slaughtered angels emerge in your head. That’s one of the strange and wonderful things with this album, it paints pictures in your head, and they sure as hell isn’t about peace, love and understanding, more about crushing Christianity and erasing the memory of it.
As noted on the sleeve, the songs were composed during hours of darkness, and that’s easy to imagine. This album sounds just like that, a truly dark recording. It is also graced with a marvellous cover courtesy of artist Necrolord, one of his finest works ever.
It’s hard to imagine that this album will ever be considered outdated, as almost ten years on it still manages to make all other black metal sound lame and life-supporting. If you don’t already own at least one copy of this one, you have missed one of the most magnificent moments in black metal history, completely incomparable to any other artist, and it will probably never be surpassed. All hail the mighty Dissection.
Storm of the Light's Bane is a nasty record, the perfect music for those angry-looking cats dressed all in black and constantly blasting music over their headphones. Set aside the Manson and the KoRn, herein lays true anger and despair. I won't say that Dissection is the most extreme band out there in any regard, because they aren't, but that doesn't really matter. The key thing to point out about Dissection is how much more classy and professional they are than your average black metallers.
Just say that title to yourself. There is no title more badass than that. Jon Notveidt could seriously have come up with that title, wrote it down somewhere, and then never uttered another sound. Instead he had a guy calling himself Necrolord paint him a picture of the grim reaper riding through snowy mountains and holding aloft a scythe. If this thing were any more badass I'd feel so emasculated that I'd be forced to surrender my MAN card.
The music on Storm of the Light's Bane is spiky neo-classical black metal of the highest caliber. I find the majority of black metal (outside such staples as Emperor) to be bland and ridiculous, but there is a deathly seriousness in these sorrow-drenched riffs and lightning-quick leads that demands you wipe the smile off of your face and headbang resolutely and angrily. This is basically melodic death metal with the veneer scraped off, or black metal with polish and craftsmanship. There are some formidable riff constructions here, power metal without the sweetness with the howling voice of winter scarring your ears o'ertop.
Not that everything is perfect in this wintry abyss. The production is undoubtedly a cut above the rest in the black metal genre, but by actually admitting that they give a shit Dissection open themselves up to comparison with the wider world of metal production, and at times the sound is just too sharp. The guitars have a way of riffing along at a high-register and after eight songs your ears will be begging for mercy. I don't say that as some sort of extreme-fearing whiner, I say that as someone whose ears literally began to hurt after too much hammering on one frequency. There are some brief respites hither and thither where the band drop the wall o' sound approach to production (generally when the band stops thrashing), but most of the time is spent headbanging in spite of the damage to the point where you feel shocked when there is actual silence.
That silence becomes more profoundly empty as the songs grow more tricky and grandiose, and I think it would have benefited Dissection to implement more space into a few of the more claustrophobic and dense structures, as well as to develop a thicker, warmer, and more muscular guitar sound.
We get a brief hint of this during the opening few bars of "Where Dead Angels Lie", a song that contains an alarmingly old, pure riff that allows the masses to lock step and rock with conviction. In fact, when the riffing gets blacker it's almost the auditory equivalent of shining a strobe light on something; it's still going the same speed, but it's choppier. On this song the band lets the piece breathe a bit more and as a result the lead breaks give you a really satisfying feeling, the simple crisp heart of metal laid bare.
Of course, Dissection is just as comfortable breaking out mathematical prog-thrash breakdowns (as they do perhaps three minutes into "Soulreaper") or driving forth with hateful fires in the belly (as they do on the deadly "Unhallowed"), or even dipping a toe into Mercyful Fate territory (as they do on the long, complex riff-fest "Thorns of Crimson Death").
Despite the fact that the majority of Notveidt's press-releases make him out to be the biggest buffoon in the universe ("We will be bringing to the masses the icy deathwind of our ANTI-COSMIC METAL OF DEATH!" etc.), this is extreme metal with a singleminded purpose and a perfectionists touch. The whole thing bleeds out a seriously unnerving vibe, as if merely touching it will lead to the ruination of one's soul. Even if the reissue includes some truly hilarious spelling errors on the back cover.
Man, I think I need to go listen to some Queen to purge my system. A little "Somebody to Love" maybe...
Stand-Outs: "Unhallowed", "Where Dead Angels Lie", "Thorns of Crimson Death"
PS: "Apocalypse is here, oh fools of the withering sky!" is the coolest line ever.
This being the first album that I had heard from Dissection, I wasn’t quite really sure what to expect from them. When I first put this album on I was pleased to hear that I wasn’t just wasting my time with this album. The music is pure in black metal form with an occasional hint of thrash and death metal and all the songs are very melodic and really captivates the listener. The vocals are very grim and true to the black metal sound which can be compared to a demon with blood in its throat. The drumming is very fast paced and keeps a perfect rhythm with the music but never starts to become over excessive. There is a lot of good talent displayed on this album with the musicianship, from the guitar style “Maiden” harmonizing leads, to the sad and dark piano playing, showing that Dissection wasn’t just dicking around when they wrote this album. The songs are well thought out and each song has its own complexity to it between the timing and the actual playing. There is a lot of good acoustic guitar work that sounds really great and fits the music perfectly for the intros and breaks adding to the element of bitter coldness and hate. I recommended this album to a couple of my friends and they enjoyed it as well. If you haven’t all ready heard this album I suggest you go out and buy it.
Unlike the unstoppable first record, "Storm of the Lights Bane" is an extremely competant but considerably "lighter" record in both mood and purpose. This is not to say that Jon and company have totally sold out the horse (there could be nothing farther from the truth), but one can surmise that the band wanted to explore other more melodic musical aspects of metal. Extremely clean (somewhat clinical) production, stunning musicianship and extremely good songwriting make this CD a worthy, if slightly puzzling follow up to the impeccable first release.
The songcraft here is wonderful yet again, but is missing the violent aura that made the first so rabid. It's still violent, don't get me wrong...but a little something is missing here. The band branched out, and in doing so ran the risk of losing a slight bit of the edge that put them at the forefront of the black metal community. The songwriting on this record finds them among the top dogs, but finally they have lost just enough ground to no longer be leading the pack. In the end, it matters little...as few bands managed to release a record even CLOSE to touching this...even is this doesn't really manage to grasp the charm of the one that came before it.
It's unfortunate that Dissection ended up having to hang it up a bit early, as unlike most of the bands they had so much more to offer. As musicians they were superior, as idealists they were crazy...and as an entity they had yet to find their true "set in stone" personality. This record though is among the "must own" records for its amazing craft that swims in a sea of boring blast-beats and mediocre praises to Satan.
BUY OR DIE!!!
Well folks..I must say that this album is an almost perfect album. Once again Dissection astounds me with their killer black metal guitar riffs and jon's signature songwriting skills. Well I might as well start off the review:
The opening track, "At the Fathomless Depths" provides an extremely dark and evil intro for this album. The part where the bass drums comes in to compliment the deep guitars is a pleasant suprirse. This song kicks off the album in a good way and it really sets the mood for the rest of the album.
"Night'sBlood"is probably one of my favorite Dissection songs of all time. It has this eerie dark feel about it and the melodic acoustic part in the middle really adds to it. The lyrics on this song are exceptionally well and I find myself singing along to it at times. "Take me to the woods...!" The Drums at the beginning really please me. The brutal tom intro sets the mood for a great song. The Guitars are also out of this world.
The next song, "Unhallowed" presents a really great guitar intro. The pounding chorus really makes you want to destroy someone. Once again the lyrics make you sing out and cry "We are the unhallowed!! Servants of the throne!!!!" Great song
"Where Dead Angels Lie" is probably the most recognizable track on the CD. For two reasons: First off, it has a killer guitar riff throughout the song that compliments the screaming of Jon. Second, it really portrays the bands talent with their guitars and with their songwriting in general..A brutal song.
The next 3 songs are very good songs..But I will review only one of them that sticks out to me and that is "Thorns of Crimson Death" I agree with the last user fully on it having one of the greatest intros to a song ever. The melodic undistorted guitar really brings up the mood and builds up to a brutal riff at the beginning. The acoustic guitars are unbelievable in this song. One of the greatest songs on the album indeed.
The last song "No Dreems Breed in Breathless Sleep" is a piano track. Now you may be thinking "what the fuck?? a brutal album all the way and then some pussy piano song to finish out???" Well NO..this song is probably the most beautiful yet evil piano track I have ever heard. It is a great closer (unless you have the where dead angels lie redistribution like I do) and it really makes a statement to end the album.
Overall this is a great album to check out if you are a fan of earlier Dissection stuff and other forms of melodic black/death metal. I'm sure this album will attract fans of all differant metal genres.
First off, let me say that the 100 rating is not superfluous, but because I genuinely cannot find fault with this album. Everything on the album works cohesively to create a powerful evil atmosphere.
To give a brief overview of Dissection, they were a Swedish black metal band which was largely the brainchild of Jon Nödtveidt until he got tossed in the pokey. At this point he's planning to restart the band once he gets out but currently their only full-length studio albums are this and The Somberlain.
The opener, "At the Fathomless Depths", is a short instrumental. It introduces one of the best elements of the band, which is Jon Nödtveidt's uncanny ability to construct evil melodies. This is a very melodic album but these are not happy melodies. They have a decidedly epic and malicious feel. This is Nödtveidt's greatest strength as a guitar player and fortunately it shines throughout the whole album.
Night's Blood kicks things into gear right off the bat. This is one of the best songs on the album. It also brings another element into the mix, and that's the very clever use of acoustic guitars. Although the acoustic interludes aren't as common as they are in, say, Opeth, they're extraordinary and don't feel forced or overlong. This song also show's Dissection's gift for constructing amazing choruses. The song structures harken more to traditional metal than purist black metal, but despite the song lengths they never get repetitive or boring.
The rest of the album continues in this vein until the closer "No Dreams Breed in Breathless Sleep", which is a short piano instrumental. This 8-song structure with an intro and outro is reminescent of Emperor's Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. One could draw many parallels between the two albums, as they are both monumental triumphs of black metal an its creative peak. While only 6 full-length songs might seem a bit short to some, the high quality of each of the songs makes up for the low number.
The production of the album seems a bit lo-fi at first but it grows on you. The guitar tone is icy cold and greatly enhances the atmosphere. The drumming is also outstanding, very fast with a lot of variety and quite audible. Nödtveidt's vocals are exceptional as well. They're much more coherent than average black metal vocals and he can control his voice very well while he's screaming. The lyrics all deal with the triumph of evil over good, and are several cuts above typical black metal lyrics.
To me, this album symbolizes the absolute peak of heavy metal. Its mix of the evil atmosphere of black metal and traditional metal's focus on riffs and coherency creates a perfect blend. I've even known people who never listen to black or death metal that like this album. As far as I'm concerned, it's an absolutely essential addition to any metalhead's collection.
1995 saw the beginning of the end for the Norwegian black metal movement, which, after reaching its creative peak in 1993/94 headed into a period of decline as Burzum and Mayhem had their careers disrupted by the death of Euronymous and Varg Vikernes’ attendant legal difficulties, and the temporary silence of DarkThrone, Emperor and Enslaved. Immortal soldiered on with the excellent Battles in the North: but coming on the heels of the all time classic Pure Holocaust, it was something of a letdown, and was certainly not enough to maintain the scene’s forward momentum by itself.
It was into this void that Dissection was trying to step with the release of Storm of the Light's Bane, bringing with them impressive technical skills, an encyclopedic knowledge of several generations of metal history and riffing, and the will, or at least the desire, to reinvigorate the flagging fortunes of black metal by expanding on the genre’s latent melodic potential while reintroducing the technical discipline of death metal. Some of it even works.
Storm of the Light’s Bane is all over the map stylistically – a careful listener will detect influences from Iron Maiden, to Kreator, to Morbid Angel to early Immortal. In some ways, this is a strength, the variation (mostly) keeps the band from falling into any sort of songwriting formula (a problem that plagues many technically astute artists). At the same time, it prevents Dissection from developing a consistent aesthetic or any conceptual unity. The album’s best track “Night’s Blood,” reinvigorates what is basically ripping death metal in the style of early Morbid Angel or first album Deicide with a darkly melodic turn worthy of classic Immortal or Enslaved. Unfortunately, this experiment is a one off, and the rest of the album consists of more straightforward melodic black metal tunes.
The best of these songs (which are good, but by no means great) – “Unhallowed,” “Retribution – Storm of the Light’s Bane” and “Soulreaper” – make black metal of old school heavy metal by breaking openly harmonized riffs in the vein of Iron Maiden into longer phrases using black metal rhythmic technique. While they lack the inventiveness, classical phrasing and epic dynamic sense of Sacramentum or the expert pacing and clever use of texture found in the better works of late-model Immortal, these tracks are both successful and satisfying, at least on a superficial level. A couple of tracks, most notably the seemingly interminable “Thorns of Crimson Death,” take an unfortunate detour into some of the worst defects of heavy metal and are dragged down by insipid, bouncy rock rhythms and sing-along kiddie metal choruses.
While Dissection display a mastery of a vast array of metal technique, Storm of the Light’s Bane lacks any unifying concept beyond a surface aesthetic of stylized ‘complexity’, as if the band never had any ambition beyond taking a basic black metal template and making it more technically aware. As a result, it has not stood the test of time as well as stylistically similar but more compositionally and conceptually expansive works like Sacramentum’s Far Away From the Sun and Immortal’s At the Heart of Winter have. Many will continue to praise this release out of nostalgia or ignorance, but it perhaps should be more appropriately seen as a gateway to better music than as an essential pillar of the extreme metal pantheon.
Are you kidding me, I hear more Possessed than In Flames in here. (No Knight of the Road, but oh well.) This is solid melodic black metal with some early death-thrash influence. If you like your "kvlt" black metal with a bit more polish, this one is right up your alley. Not to mention an awesome fucking album cover too...
Intro, and then - holy moly we are blasting our way through the boundaries of Hell now!!! Solid riffage and then a little solo part and then a neckbreaker of a riff around 0.41... around 0.59 we get the first bad feature of the album, which is the occasional silly DM drumming - blast beats and other features of br00tality... fortunately it's not too prominent too often, and takes a backseat to the guitars.
So what does the album really sound like? Imagine if Dimmu Borgir got their act together, by about 58 orders of magnitude... that's the superficial resemblance - shrieky vocals, fast high-pitched riffage, death-metal drumming... okay, then throw in the occasional neckbreaker thrash riff, and in general the ability to keep one's head banging through solidly placed time changes.
There's the occasional acoustic interlude too... Night's Blood for example slows down quite a bit halfway through, but it does so in a way that makes a good deal of sense - none of this "gratuitous stupidity interval" for the Hell of it.
More highlights... Unhallowed, "The apocalypse is here!!!!" Prepare to BANG YOUR HEAD! When Satan comes to collect, you'd better have your brains splattered all over the stage or he's gonna send you to Christianity, Cradle of Filth, and other abominations.
But the greatest song on here has to be Thorns of Crimson Death. Check out the main riff at 1.16 in, after the nifty buildup intro.
Oh and you don't hear Possessed? Go listen to that break around 3.43 in Thorns of Crimson Death, then listen to Burning in Hell, and report back in. This knows where to borrow similar-sounding riffs from - none of this "let's ape Pleasure to Kill and throw out everything that was good about it" bullshit (At the Gates, Morbid Angel, a million other bands)...
So this is the album that shits over everything in the "Gothenburg" genre. Why? Because it's certainly not Gothenburg. There's the occasional Gothenburg-sounding riff, but man Iron Maiden had those too... In Flames wishes they were one-fifth this good. The occasional silly drumming makes this one not 100% killer, but it's close.