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I've had this album for about 6 years (roughly, the last decades been blurry), and this just never gets old for me. This is surely one of the best debuts of its era. I'd also go so far as to say this is one of the greatest albums of the early, mid-90's Norwegian scene hands down (hence its score). Recorded in Greighallen June/July '94 with engeneering, and production credits going out to Pytten (killer producer, one of the best), and some guy named David, and with this the sound of a genre was perfected. This is Viking Black Metal the way it was meant to be played. Seriously, if your a fan of Enslaved, Helheim, or Isengard I'm pretty sure you'll love this.
For the most part, this music is melodicly charged excellence. Thanks first to an awesome producer/production, and secondly to great musicians who had undenible ability. The songs really are able to capture a distinct Viking feel,... one crafted through reverence, and enhanced by intelligence. Just amazing structures weaving through perfect riff progressions, drowned in melodic dramatics, and layers offering one's pallete to either search through, or as a grand cloaking background to mentally drop out into. You know, for the guitar tone alone this rises above the fields of half ass, lame bands today, or then. The clean vocals are utillized much like the drums here (and keys which are very limitedly used), meaning they are there more to accent melodicly the rythms put forth, instead of being used as a lead element. The Blackend vocals are equally awesome as any aspect on here seems to me, and really capture a powerfully independent feel.
Every instrument is mixed perfectly, and was produced/recorded by very talented people. From the drums with their a-typical beats, and highly amped up presence, giving a feel of what it would sound like if Thor drew his hammer and had to crush some giants, to the guitars whose rythms, and melodic arrangements give off imagery of vast, snow covered Viking realms of fire, and ice... battle, and victory,... death, and glory. Every song on here is like a war march (well except for the outro-In the moonless sky, which is all keys).
In closing I'd just like to touch on a few thoughts again:
This has melodic structures built upon melodic structures, all of which drift through powerfull rythm progressions, and at base contain the essence of Viking Metal. This has truelly capable musicians who obviously had unique visions, and were talented enough to not only put it down in song, but excell at that. Undoubtedly one of the best products to come from their scene (which competition was tough to say the least), and one which didnt quite get the recognition it deserved. I'd recommend this to all fans of BM, and is essential to fans of Viking Black Metal. Actually, theres not too many other BM albums I'd recommend over this. Get this classic. Now.