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Hypothermia are one of Scandinavia’s most influential bands when it comes to the depressive sub-genre. Alongside bands like Nyktalgia and Trist, from Germany and the Czech Republic respectively, Hypothermia have been the mainstay in the field. Almost like a throwback to the second wave, Hypothermia have begun a unique quest to bring back the influential mentality that the members of the second wave had some time ago. The comparisons between the two scenes aren’t exactly few and far between. After all, one scene directly influenced another and with it, this scene is directly influencing spin-offs. Hypothermia have seemingly been apart of the movement for as long as I can remember but, in truth, their appeal only began to take off after having heard the inspirational ‘Köld’ in 2006. Alongside the lesser ‘Veins’, these records took part in the recent revolution that has emerged in the underground as a force of rebels has begun to take black metal in a unforeseen direction. Before depressive black metal came along, what were we listening to so avidly? I cannot remember anymore. Though ‘Kaffe & Blod’ does not stand up to the wrath of the impervious ‘Gråtoner’, it signals a new beginning in the bands career, taking them on from lo-fi productions to cleanly displayed bouts of depression and eventual suicide.
Given the fact that this band were one of the first I discovered in the scene, which is usually the way it goes in black metal as you tend to discovered the most innovative bands first, I still have a soft spot for Hypothermia that will probably live long after the band dies. Most people recognise Kim as being the most talented musicians in a long line of musicians within the sub-genre because he has an eye for spotting the most methodical ways of creating unsurpassed atmospherics that truly do conjure feelings like depression and grief within the listener that most spin-offs from this band haven’t been able to muster even with the use of several supposedly creative minds behind the band. Kim, all by himself, has generated a feeling on several full-lengths, and a few infamous demos and EP’s, that will be hard to contain and beat off in others’ challenge for the lead role of the depressions main character in the production entitled “Depressive Black Metal”. If Hypothermia’s illustrious career were a film, or a novel, it would be amongst the bleakest in creation, tapping into age old Shakespearean themes of tragedy and woe, as well as literary techniques that enforce the most heart achingly brutal themes like pathetic fallacy has a tendency to do with conviction.
After the superb ‘Gråtoner’, which is one of the best EP’s I’ve ever heard, I was interested to see what direction Hypothermia took. I personally thought, as did many others, that ‘Gråtoner’ deserved a full-length release, but it is seemingly destined to be an EP forever, which is a shame. Although I’m a huge fan of Hypothermia and their depressive ways, I think the material on both ‘Gråtoner’ and this, ‘Kaffe & Blod’, which translates to coffee and blood, both deserve re-recording, with a more professional sound in mind, and being put to disc as a full-length record because a lot of the instrumentation present, including the unbearably painful atmospherics, contributes to a huge chunk of my positive opinion on the band and sounds better than a lot of the previous full-length material too. There are a few techniques that make this style work and watch out as Hypothermia tend to inflict them all during the space of one song, let along spanning them sparingly across the space of a full demo, or even full-length. Sparse vocals are a must, in terms of Hypothermia’s material. Though constant use of despairing rasps make work for some others, it would never work for Sweden’s Hypothermia. Kim knows when and how to impose the greatest sense of tragedy and when it comes in the form of vocals, he likes to spread them across the barren soundscapes that mirror desolation.
Kim’s vocals are affective because they’re use sparsely. If he were to overdo it, they might become tedious, but seeing as he doesn’t, we will never know. Slow build-ups and gradual crescendos are a must too. On both songs present here, Kim imposes a feeling of watching someone die from a terminal illness with the clean guitars and with variation in the percussion. As with someone who is dying from cancer, the disease takes its time to meticulously inhabit the corners of the body before inflicting its unearthly pain on the victim in the center of their vital organs. It constricts the persons body, making them unable to do regular everyday tasks and forcing them to feel weakened under the sustained pressure that builds up over a period of time. Kim’s methodical ways are tyrannical and infectious like cancer. He works his depressive themes around the body, chewing up and spitting out the healthy parts to leave a shell of what was once there. He moves around undetected for the most part and hits you when you least expect it with improvised soundscapes that use levels of melancholy most of us will not experience in our life times. Given the clean instrumentation, despite the hollow productive feel, Hypothermia are allowed time and space over the lengthy songs to produce moments of a spectacularly depressive nature in every area of the instrumentation. ‘Kaffe & Blod’ is another sign that something big is looming over the horizon.