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Made in Norway - 100%

marktheviktor, March 22nd, 2010

Viking metal from Norway is here right on this very album. Real Viking metal that is, meaning a subgenre of black metal. Sure, Amon Amarth and some Ensiferum are all fine and well but it is not Viking metal to me. A predominant lyrical theme does not make a band such. Furthurmore, even just being a Scandinavian black metal band that does an album with lyrics about Norse mythology and the like still does not satisfy the requirement to be deemed Viking metal. If you need an example of this pronouncement then go listen to Natteferd by Ragnarok. It's got the lyrics, the obvious band name but the album doesn't really conjure anything up that reminds you of the world of the Norseman does it? Ah-ha! (The exclamation not the pop band despite the fact that they hail from Norway too and no, they are not Viking music either and besides they're spelled differently but now that this parenthesized reminder to the hypothetically possible misinformed is in danger of growing into a serpentine run-on sentence of epic proportions that no man Norse or otherwise has ever seen, I better get back to Enslaved and make my point-and quick!).

Wait..but you see, there was actually a point there to be made with that about Vikingligr Veldi. Because that's what this album is like: the musical equivalent of a run-on. It willingly provides more information than you needed or would ever get about a given subject than you thought you knew was possible and without being able to take a breath. It's elongation is crafted with enough grace that after you hear enough you realize you are viewing the serpent at a segment. But for me, the information was not more than I needed. I still can't get enough of this record.

The day I debuted this album to my stereo, I at first thought it was a little bit more progressive sounding than what I was used to for black/Viking metal. And as I said before, I came to realize there was a good reason it is like that. As with the demonstrative run-on again(it's a welcome thing in this case), Vikingligr Veldi contains two independent clauses: one to enrapture you with Viking myth, traditions and battle and the other calmer moments to reflect and remember the vision quest of the Viking. Only that's not all. It's about the Norwegian aspect of the legends. More about that in a minute.

Lifandi Lif Undir Hamri starts with a spacey little intro. The keyboard notes running throughout these first couple moments seem to be as a sort of lap dissolve to this flashback into the legendary Viking history of NORWAY and I say that strongly with purpose but again bear with me for a bit longer when I get down to that. Anyway back to this song Lifandi. Ivar gives Ihsahn and Samoth a run for the plunder when it comes to riff writing and playing here. It's pretty thrashy but this is more vivid and picturesque than anything you can find in an actual pure eighties thrash song. The guitars are just pure good knack for playing rock solid ambiance. Every instrument, note and transition sounds like it belongs here and the only target in mind is to epically convey the might of the noble savage in Norway. The buzzsaw riffs on here are long drawn and thick as epic should be. Take notice of how they sound of a mist and fogginess abound. You don't need to me to tell you that these epic riffs evoke images of the long, heroically crafted contours of a Viking longship built from a tenacious wood. She is strong and steady and ready for resettlement-in Norway.

Vetrarnótt. Say it. Heidi Klum could be wearing her hair in valkyrie braids while being done doggy style screaming "Vetrarnótt!" while climaxing with this song playing loud and clear and it would be enough for her to swear off Seal. Not to be crude or cavalier but sometimes there are times when Kiss from a Rose will not do. Try a violent thunderclap of a beach landing by a pissed off but proud platoon of beserkers. Simply put: this is the best Viking metal song in the history of black fucking metal. For a millenia ago, those brave men of Scandinavia were forced to capitulate to the armies of Rome and swear allegiance to Christ. What does this have to do with the track? This is a song that sounds like that last gasp of pagan Viking vaunt that was only whispered of in the Northlands of woebegone years since but now made to be heard by Enslaved. The same choking buzzsaw guitar from Lifandi is carried over unto here. When it just comes on, the timing is incredible. It's as if it was just there ringing from the past the whole time. The tempo from right out of the gate is masterful that way. Trym Torson must be given credit for this. His furious hell skinning doesn't let up one bit. Tenacity and reckless abandon in that larruping is perpetual but still genuine and life like. The song is very simple in construction and hypnotic in its repetition. It's like stumbling into the middle of a bloody battle on the shore. Violence and chaos should sound this long and blunt in black metal. Grutle's vocals are that witch-y rasp that lines out all the bloodsoaked action of Norse battle. You can hear the big ballsy Viking horn drifting in and about with fire and luminosity. It's there and to miss it even under the fog of war that the riffs depict is unthinkable. There's a certain washed out fury of echo of their buzzing that transfers at the end chorus that I have not heard done so right since Bathory's first album.

Now to the whole Norway thing. I know my emphasizing of it was like opening a fortune cookie and always habitually attaching the words "in bed" to whatever the little strip of paper prophesized to you but nevertheless it stands to reason that Vikingligr Veldi more than any other album of the classic black metal era strongly waves a flag of a romanticized nationalism for Viking culture of Norway in every note. This album was put out by Deathlike Silence Records for a very good reason. It bonded musically very well with what Euronymous was pioneering in his guitar riffing too. Albums like DMDS and Burzum had an atmosphere that had you coming away with a certain impression for an atmosphere of dense, heavily canopied forests under a lunar frontier. In a review for Borknagar, I described how Norwegians love their homogeneous culture at least when compared to neighboring European cultures more or less. That applies more than ever with this album. Vikings came from Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Enslaved of course represents Norway where many of the hordes from there generally colonized the more desolate lands like Vinland. Remoteness and melancholy! You heard it in Burzum riffs and on DMDs just as you hear it on Vikingligr Veldi. Bathory was from Sweden and I don't know about you but when I hear Hammerheart, I picture journeys at more easterly fronts that Swedish vikings were known for. I'm telling you, it's all in the riffs and beats that these Scandinavians can make their brand of black metal stand out. Norse identity is well represented here on this album. There's no other way of explaining it about this album.

I mentioned the more mellow moments in songs like Midgards Eldar and Norvegr and they are songs that imply a notion that the coastal population where Norwegian Vikings came from really did also choose to settle into vast forested interiors of the peninsula as you would expect of something found in Burzum too. The riffs are slowed down but then sped up back to a chariot in battle mode. The acoustic passages sound like they were inspired by proficient Spanish guitar picking. There is little doubt with these moments of chromatic pause that you can find this atmosphere in other bands Euronymous took under his dark wing. The final message across this long serpent reads Made in Norway.