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I love this album! This takes me on a nostalgia-trip back to the origins of black metal...and, oddly enough, to late-period NWOBHM. First off: this IS a very primitive production. I believe it was done entirely on a 4 track (pretty "kvlt", hmmm?). There are 4 different recording sessions compiled on this album, and you can hear the difference amongst each. At times, the drums are a muffled throb, like a mad leviathan's heartbeat. The guitars are thickly distorted and abrasive. The actual playing is performed with utter disregard for precision and "technique". At times, it takes a great deal of concentration to hear what's going on.
So why is this so great?
The SONGS that Forgjord writes are clearly from the perspective of fans of heavy metal. There is no self-gratifying complexity and flashy soloing; in fact, I'd say that the fellows can play their instruments just well enough to bring their songs to life. But what songs! The album (which I understand is a compilation of their 2 demos?) is over an hour long, but there are so very many cool parts that you wonder where the time went after you finish experiencing the album. And then you are compelled to play it again. Imagine if you will, amongst the black metal clamour, a sudden nod to just plain ol' heavy metal...albeit hideously deformed to fit the casket that is black metal. Imagine being transported back to the first time you heard Sodom's "In the Sign of Evil"...but then it is put into a blender with rusty blades. And the vocals. Oh, those vocals. They are very raw, and often reverbed-out, but then there is a nasal, droning, sick chanting/singing that appears from the recesses of tipper gore's nightmares, to keep you on your toes and to propel Forgjord to lower depths of terror. And variety. THAT is the word for this album: variety.
Another note-worthy thing about this album is the layout/cover. Reminds me very much of an old Samhain layout, of course in the black metal style. It's murky and cryptic and just plain dark feeling gives one the proper perspective of what to expect from this super-great masterwork of Finnish Filth. I wanted very much to give this a perfect "100", but have high hopes of what they will release (according to Molestor of their label, Hammer of Hate, they are working on new material at this moment). And, honestly, I had to take off 5 points because it is a compilation of their demos...but WHAT a compilation! Check these guys out if you want to bask in the freezing warm nostalgia for old-time black metal...or enjoy sticking chainsaws in your underpants, for that matter!
While being recorded during different sessions and times, divided to four acts, the album still manages to keep itself together with strong instrumental work, especially from behalf of guitars that knit complex webs with extremely varying riffs. Vocals maintain the same inhuman approach during whole album, and we do even get to hear clear casting couple of times.
I would definitely say that the strength of Förgjord is in genuine guitar riffs that together with raw vocals form strong lines of music to flow into. Guitars effectively create followable melody that leads the listener through the coldness with surprising easiness, without fear of loosing interest to the album, as it is continuously reforming and reshaping. Drums are slight disappointment, as they seem slightly statistic and play just a side part in the album until Act IV, tho without breaking the whole badly.
Act I is definitely strongest part. It has brutal, scratching and drowning guitar riffs that are combined into lustful and hate-filled vocals. Also, the vocals do add a lot; If you happen to be able to read Finnish, I strongly suggest to follow the music with lyrics in the hand. "Minä olen alfa, minä olen omega. Minä olen tie, totuus ja kuolema." (free translation: "I am alpha, I am omega. I am path, truth and death."
Act II sounds a little bit more hasted through. It is a lot less polished than first part, if not caring about the fact that all tracks were recorded with 4-tracker. Distinct images of dialogue between manic depression and then raising back to the top are summoned during jumps in speed and heaviness.
Act III takes back what was lost in anger and speed in Act II. In fact, what comes to brutality and rawness, it probably runs just past Act I. This is excellent for when thinking the whole; Where Act I prepares to coming and Act II is calmness before storm, Act III unleashes the whole speed and strength of Förgjord. But, in truth, I do find that this particular act lacks in riffs and originality what two previous ones had. Sad, because this could have been something unheard of!
Act IV is somewhat different from previous acts. Vocals have had a slight change, and they are now somewhat deeper. Quality seems to have taken a step backwards; I would dare to say that, even while being recorded two years after Act I, artists have walked to paths that they perhaps should not have taken. Guitar is still interesting, but still, the riffs sound less genuine than they were in earlier acts. But this might be intentional as drums take a lot back what they did not earlier claim. The small fills and managing to keep their own path while guitar goes to different ways create a very different atmosphere to this act and, because of this, album indeed does not get boring easily!
In overall, I'd say that this is definitely something that everyone should get who are able to enjoy cold northern black metal! Guitar riffs are mostly original and interesting, vocals are raw and they fit the music while both vocals and drums go interesting development during the album. Big bonus is if you're able to read Finnish, as the lyrics are, especially in Act I, very successful and mostly concentrating around individualism, death and despair of chaos that is chainless human mind!