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Bleak is just the beginning. - 91%

wagontrain, July 7th, 2007

As if you needed even more evidence to realize that I have a huge fucking boner for Swedish DSBM, here it is. Sure enough, my second favorite album of the year so far is another sorrowful mother fucker from Sweden, writing some soul rottingly dark music.

Where Nae'blis is twisted, sad, and just flat insane, Hypothermia is BLEAK. The name really fits here, because Hypothermia is not just cold, it is deathly cold. Intense imagery goes along with this music and it involves long periods of misery in uncomfortable places. I will go more into depth on that later, but before you read on you should know, this is some hope destroying music if there ever was any.

The style of black metal Hypothermia plays almost strikes me as drone, minus the sludge. The key here is that it is not boring, as drone is to me, yet Rakbladsvalsen takes each riff and repeats it into oblivion. You may not see how this could possibly be a good thing, but trust me, it definitely is. The hypnotic factor of this music is no small thing. If you sit down and listen to the droning, harmonically flat riffs, it is almost impossible to not get drawn into a miserable trance, and I'm not trying to be cliche when I say that it conjures images of dying of starvation in an endless desert, or freezing to death on the slopes of a vast snowy mountain.

The guitars exercise very little variety because it is not needed. They have a lazy distorted sound, almost indifferent sounding, like it doesn't matter if you notice the treble or the bass, the pitch or the timbre. Many of the riffs also hover on the edge of melody, but any thoughts of "happy music" are dispelled by the utterly bleak and tortured screams of Kim Carlsson. One of my favorite vocalists in metal, I don't feel like I need to elaborate on him. Simply put, his screams are heart-shattering. I consider myself quite the drum critic, mostly because I hate most drumming performances on albums. Hypothermia has the type of drums I would normally hate, that is, they are very normal, lots of snares and cymbals and all that boring crap we have been hearing for 50 years. However, they also have a kind of dead or lazy feel, like it doesn't matter if you hear them or not. Because of this, you forget they are there, which makes it that much easier for them to hypnotize you. And they do. I am somewhat baffled myself at how that works, because the drumming really does suck, but it fucking works. What to say? Who knows.

The songwriting. Obviously I am a sucker for the epic. I can only think of one 30+ minute track (not including other Hypothermia tracks!) which is as entertaining as "Rakbladsvalsen Part I" and it isn't in this review. Entertaining probably isn't the right word, mesmerising is better, but regardless my attention does not waver over the entire 34:25 of the first track. That's not to say there is a lot going on necessarily, but believe me folks this song gets the fucking job done, as you will come out of listening to it feeling like part of your life just got drained away. The remaining of the 4 songs are a sort of post-composition to the first track, each more or less highlighting a certain depressing aspect of the main theme.

I'm not 100% full of good things to say about this nasty fucking album. There is one specific thing I find myself wanting, and that is a vocal performance similar to that of Kim Carlsson on "Svartage Passager" from the album Kold. Don't get me wrong, the vocals are great, but a little bit too sparse for my liking. Kim is such a wicked screamer he should do it more often.

DSBM does not get much better than this. Take it or leave it. You'll be much happier if you leave it, that's a promise.