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Vidar Våer, better known as Ildjarn, is one of the most musically divisive characters of the early 90s Norwegian black metal scene. Before he launched his solo-project, he played bass with Ihsahn and Samoth in Thou Shalt Suffer, and even did a live-stint with Emperor. As a recording artist, Ildjarn is both hailed as a visionary and derided as an untalented hack who happened to be at the right place at the right time. His discography has recently been reissued by Season Of Mist, giving old and new listeners a chance to experience the rawest and angriest albums that have ever come out of Norway.
Forest Poetry was originally released in 1996, and consists of 22 tracks of sheer aural hatred. With an average song length of two minutes, this album takes the cold rawness of early Darkthrone and adds a gutter punk recklessness. Sounding like a demo recorded on a cheap cassette-player, Ildjarn is what Burzum might have turned out as if he never expanded his sound beyond the Aske tape. The DIY-sound is completed by songs ending abruptly and the drum count-offs being left on the final recordings. The whole racket is spearheaded with increasingly aggressive bass-lines and Ildjarn’s raspy screeching.
Clocking in at 52 minutes, listening through Forest Poetry can be an arduous task. The effort is not wasted, however, and there are great riffs buried in the constant barrage of hostility. While not a particularly accomplished musician by any stretch of the imagination, Ildjarn takes the grim ferocity of black metal to its crude logical conclusion. It’s definitely an acquired taste, and would be a terrible introduction to the genre, as Forest Poetry is pure unfiltered sonic warfare. The unfettered harshness would later be emulated by countless latecomers, but few have been able to reach the authenticity of Ildjarn. Laying the foundation for many hopelessly uninspired one-man bands, Ildjarn stands out by tapping into something feral with his necrotic music.
The punishing sounds of Forest Poetry means that it’s not likely to be in anyone’s heavy rotation. In spite of, or perhaps because of this, it’s a rarely matched handiwork of unpolished energy and misanthropy. Despite the naysayers, Ildjarn has earned his place as a peripheral underground legend. While his later ambient work may have seen more praise,Forest Poetry is a semi-classic of the genre, but with a understandably very limited appeal.
Written for The Metal Observer
One could argue that in the latter days of the 2nd wave in Norway, there was an unofficial contest between Burzum and Ildjarn over who could produce the absolute lowest fidelity piece of antinomian minimalism possible. Ultimately, as evidenced by the particular album that came towards the tail end of Ildjarn's black metal oriented period, the latter ended up winning out, though one can't help but note that an album built up of pure disregard for accessibility will fold before its rival in every other department. While this reclusive, forest-dwelling hermit can't really be faulted for how his unbalanced dichotomy between black metal and ambient music came out, it can be clearly stated that like any other novelty, the enraged rebellion against sonic convention that manifests itself in "Forest Poetry" wears a bit thin after the initial impact.
To put it bluntly, impact is the only thing that this album attempts to go for, and this is accomplished through a very raw, nasty, distorted barrage of droning anthems with semi-comedic and heavily cliché steeped titles. Any mode of differentiation in terms of instrumentation, tempo, timbre or song structure is minimized all but to the point of non-existence, leaving a jagged collection of different length pieces to a highly distorted puzzle that culminates in about 52 minutes of uniform animosity. The vocal character of Ildjarn is somewhat comparable to Nocturno Culto's trollish mutterings, though a bit more garbled and extremely low in the mix. The entire presentation is about as disjointed as a typical early 90s black metal demo, and even includes a high frequency of drum count ins, adding to the subtle yet very present "stream of consciousness" feel that exists from beginning to end on here.
The uniqueness of this, even considering the company it kept with in 2nd wave, is such that only a tenuous familiarity can be found among 2 well recognized albums that were released in close proximity to it. The uniformity of tempo and the droning character of the chords is somewhat in line with that of "Transylvanian Hunger", though this has a lot less melodic consonance to it and sounds more like shivering timbers of a falling tree than a cold blast of arctic frost. Similarly, the extremely nasty character does seem to challenge the bleak feel of "Filosofem", but again the sense of melody is extremely distant and the production sound has more of a popping character here rather than a fuzz-drenched river of solemn sorrow. The relationship is about as distant as can be, yet it wouldn't be out of line to infer some level of influence upon this work by those 2, to varying degrees.
The accessibility factor is this album's greatest weakness, or perhaps its greatest strength, it all depends on what sort of hatred one feels and how one thinks it should be directed musically. But while the mystique of this album might seem initially appealing, it falls into a similar trap common to a number of earlier so-called black metal classics like "Pure Fucking Armageddon" and the infamous early Beherit demos, which is that after a handful of listens there isn't really much to go on. It will only appeal to a very specific and limited audience, and will most likely come off as pure musical gibberish to anyone else. It will either sink in deep and be a regular favorite, or be unbearable after the 2nd song ends, and most likely the lion's share of people even within the generic black metal scene will fall into the latter category. It's either the cult of cults, or a skip-worthy work of musical dadaism. Take your pick.
Honestly, for years, I thought Ildjarn was a joke. Only upon reading reviews for his work on Metal Archives do I find out that many people take this man seriously. This seriously must be a massive in-joke, with people writing glowing reviews with the sole intention of deceiving the reader into listening to garbage like this. That MUST be the reason why Ildjarn repeatedly gets 90% or higher reviews. I just refuse to believe that people can be such hipsters that they will throw their support behind such unabashedly crap music.
Normally, when I review music, I think about what the creator of the music intended when he (or she) created the music. This, however, is not applicable here. Because the only conclusion I can come up with is that Ildjarn intended to create crap. In that sense, he succeeded. That's why Forest Poetry gets a 3% instead of a 0 percent, because he definitely succeeded here. This is utter crap, and I can never force myself to rate crap highly. I am a VERY open-minded listener, MUCH more so than I used to be, and I honestly gave this one hell of a chance to grow on me. Still, to this day, I cannot listen to more than a minute or so at a time without wanting to cut my ears off. I guess that's good, since most songs are blissfully short, but that's NEVER a good thing.
In fact, I've heard noisegrind bands with a more appealing sound than this. The production sounds as if Ildjarn took a computer microphone, hung it from the ceiling, and recorded all tracks with that microphone. To me, this is a satire of black metal, much more so than being black metal itself. The name of the album, Forest Poetry, is about as generic of a black metal album name as you can get, and all the song titles are equally generic. And true to the nature of satire, it takes the worst flaws of black metal (unmusicality and horrid production) and takes them past their logical extreme. I would, then, rate this higher than 3%, since I do love satire, except that this is not funny. It's just annoying. I can pretty much describe this entire album in one sentence: Fake-sounding blastbeats with horribly distorted and recorded guitars repeating boring and stupid riffs ad infinitum with distorted vocals and an overall very sloppy performance.
I could end my review there, since that's the entire summation of what happens here. It sounds like VON, but with way worse production and way worse performance. Furthermore, since to the best of my knowledge, VON was a joke, there is no way I can take Ildjarn's Forest Poetry (or any of his discography, really) seriously. I guess this is a joke, and the joke is on the fans who actually pay money on this. Here's a little perspective for you: Ildjarn probably made this whole thing in a couple days, and spent 0 money on making it. This proves that with the right packaging and the right philosophy, fans will eat up ANYTHING.
I tried my hardest to find a reason to rate this high, and to find a reason why anybody would rate this high. I mean, I try to avoid reviewing styles/genres that I don't care for, and I do love raw black metal (Hate Forest, anyone?) and I tried with all my effort to see why Ildjarn could get anything approaching the accolades he gets. The only conclusion I can come up with is the bandwagon effect: it's cool within the extreme black metal circles to like Ildjarn, since it's "obscure" and "kvlt" sounding. That's the only explanation I can come up with, because there is nothing to like here. This is not raw, this is not kvlt, this is CRAP. There's a difference. Mutiilation was raw. Arkha Sva is raw. This is just crap; pure, unadulterated, crap. This is not black metal, this is not "tr00", this is just crap.
Forest Poetry honestly reminds me of dadaist art, which often consisted of defacing classic works of art or creating unabashed crap. Likewise, the only people who liked dadaist art were the hipsters of the time who pretty much only liked it because it was cool. Just like how dadaist "art" really isn't art all that much, Forest Poetry isn't really music all that much. It's an attempt to make something as raw and unproduced as possible. The flaw in that equation is that Forest Poetry is pretty much unlistenable.
So while I must say that Ildjarn pretty much succeeded at what he was trying to do, i.e. make the most horrid sounding black metal ever, I'm gonna quote something my father said to me a lot when I was a little kid: "Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD." There is no reason why Forest Poetry should've been made, no reason why it deserves this kind of packaging and label support, and no reason why anybody should pay their hard earned money on this. Anybody who actually has to work a job for their money (instead of getting it from their parents/family) should be insulted that Ildjarn wants us to spend money on this. This took absolutely no talent or time to make. It's an insult to the listener and a joke on anyone who is enough of a sap to pay money for this. Normally I don't see why low ratings are justified, but in this case, it's sorely justified.
Prior to listening to Forest Poetry, I was very eager and excited to listen to Ildjarn's raw black metal he wrote before his ambient masterpiece, Hardangervidda. With song titles such as, "Whispering Breeze" and "Dark December", what kind of black metal follower would not be ecstatic! Once I obtained the album, I started listening to the opening track, and I hoped that the whole album did not sound like this two minute song robed in distortion...sadly, each song did, in fact, sound the same. Twenty-two tracks and 51 minutes later, I was greatly disgruntled. Ildjarn's misanthropic ideology states that his music is made not to impress or attract people but to display the hatred he has for this world and its beings. The whole time I was listening to the album, these ideas of his were going through my head, for I was try to understand the music a bit more, but unavailingly, I could not find success in doing so. I do not wish to lead you away from this album, nor do I want you to go against your curiosity, but I am going to give you a digest of this album for what it really is.
I could not possibly name another album that holds a candle to the hideous sound quality of Forest Poetry. I cannot even imagine how Ildjarn recorded this album, or what he used to record it with. I could care less about the
latter, but either way, the overall production on this album is completely dreadful. What makes this album very difficult to listen to is the paper thin, crunchy, gainy guitar tone; the strong, distorted presence of the bass; and worst of all, the cheap, low-end percussion. The drums are the second loudest mixed instrument on the album with the crash being the harshest of the set. The guitar's purpose is to serve as the leading tone of the music making it the loudest mixed on the album. It is heavily distorted with absolutely no bass or mid volumes adjusted on the amp that was used during the recording session. You hear the bass that follows the guitar chords throughout the whole album, and it sometimes even overpowers the guitar with its stentorian distortion (ex. "Chill of the Night"). I usually tend to have problems with black metal albums lacking bass, but this one is an exception. As far as the vocals are concerned, I'm not sure if Ildjarn knew what he was screaming or if he had a clue as to what language it was in. I would describe his growls as being hateful and frustrated screeches, which definitely adds to the atmosphere he was trying to capture. There will be no transitions heard from track to track on this album; instead, the music tends to end abruptly, sometimes even mid-way through a beat.
I'm not going to claim that each song sounds entirely the same, but if there was one aspect that is annoyingly repetitive on this album, it would be the drums. The drum pattern you hear in the first 30 seconds of a song is what you will be hearing the entire way through. The guitar riffs are pretty diverse throughout each solitary piece, but the album still lacks a large spectrum of unique riffs. Each (power) chord is played with tremolo picking and it's usually played this way constantly throughout the album. You also do not hear one arpeggio, single note, or solo played on the guitar in any of the tracks which is expected from a raw black metal act. As I have said earlier, the bass stays pretty consistent and audible and played in what seems to be in a finger picking style, due to its flat and solid sound. Surprisingly, everything stays in time too!
This is not the worst album I've ever heard, but 'tis one that requires the listener to listen with an abhorring and vengeful mood to really appreciate what it has to offer. It would be appropriate to even go as far as saying that it would be great music to accompany you while you wander through the bleak woods on a winter night. No matter what, it will add to the essence of the bitter cold and the dead landscape, but I guarantee that this album will not
be your first choice of music before embarking on such expeditions. To leave you with words of wisdom, I advise you to acquire and listen to this album with an open mind (especially if you aren't the biggest black metal fan), and to enjoy with the greatest sense of hate...
Ildjarn achieved what most of the entire Norwegian black metal scene had been trying to do for over a decade with this release. There is little, if any, melody, structure, harmony, or traditional musical elements. Guitar, vocals, drums, and possibly bass are all mashed together in short songs that challenge the listener to keep up with the harsh intensity.
Songs consist of a few repeated powerchords, a very simple drum beat, and Ildjarn's raw and rageful screams. There is little variation from track to track besides the riff order and tempo. Describing the music itself is fairly pointless; only by listening can one understand Ildjarn's music.
Legendary for his misanthropy, Forest Poetry exemplifies Ildjarn's ideals and attitude towards music. A rejection of everything traditional, this album is nothing more than straightforward "black metal" without the folk influences of Ulver or the ambient of Burzum. The images conjured up while listening to such tracks as "Sinking Deep" or "Deeping in Grey" are those of cold winter nights, frost covered hills, a lonely traveler hiking through dark Norsk woods. Forest Poetry is, at its core, pure. And with this comes a certain beauty that is lacking in even the giants of Norwegian black metal like Darkthrone and Emperor.
Often railed against for its terrible production, this album certainly does not excel in that field and makes "Det Som Engang Var" sound like the next Top 40 single. Perhaps Ildjarn was trying to further his "grim" and "kvlt" image or perhaps he just used what resources he had; the end result is the same either way. Forest Poetry is a trip down a long and winding road that entrances the listener from the first step and does not let up until the journey ends.
Ildjarn's solo output is the kind of stuff made for elitist black metal fans. It's almost uniformly terrible, but so raw and inaccessible that any dislike can just be chalked up to not 'understanding' it. For my part, I would be convinced that Ildjarn is just a joke making fun of black metal if not for Sort Vokter, which he was involved in, and which totally ruled (and of course, which only made one album).
I remember reading something in which Ildjarn described his songwriting process. I can't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure he mentioned that the process took very little time. Well, you get what you pay for. Every song on here sounds the same. In a lot of cases, I think they actually are the same. There's really not much more to say than that. 2-3 minutes is the average song length, but theres enough of them to make like 50 minutes of this crap. It takes a Herculean effort of the will just to sit through it.
And the production...my god. Is he trying to kill me? It's unbearably loud and harsh. My brain hurts just thinking about it. Other Ildjarn albums are not near this annoying in the production department, mainly going for tinny rather than dense. The music still sucks, but at least it's bearable to actually listen to it.
So why ten points? The album title of course. Whatever Ildjarn's faults, lack of a sense of humor is not one of them.
Really, this is hardly black metal anymore. There has always been a strange bounciness in the music of Ildjarn which distanced it from the rest of the genre, but here the dance / techno rhythmic style is enhanced by an emphasis on the kick drum and hi hat alternating with an understated snare. It produces a unique sound to be sure. Aesthetically, this is probably the peak of Ildjarn's musical legacy. Disgustingly abraded, but still (mostly) audible, the music clambers on (is that even a word?) with a much greater sense of strength than the artist's earlier works. Even so, this is definetely the most accessible of Ildjarn's solo works, with songs like Whispering Breeze and Chill of the Night seeming almost catchy, in a horrendously twisted punkish techno-ish Ildjarn sort of way. Then though, there are songs like Midnight Interval and Descending which definetely push at the boundaries of emotional depth through the sickening mutations of their dark simple melodies. Still though, this album is conceptually light compared to Det Frysende Nordiriket, and not nearly as enjoyable overall as the Ildjarn - Nidhogg collaboration material. Still highly recommended for sure, if nothing else for the feeling of the filterless blind freedom of a child haphazardly beating on pots and pans in the living room, that this album conjures up. It's a good feeling, really.
I guess I should comment that, in comparison particularly to "Det Frysende Nordiriket," this work is probably the most consistent of Ildjarn's output. There are no jarring changes to the production, all the tracks make sense together, and there aren't any dramatic style shifts like in "Strength and Anger." For this reason, it might be a good one to start with, although I don't know how many times I've heard the complain, "this is going to go on for an hour??" Perfect music to torture devout muslim Iraqi insurgents with...
These days it is difficult to define what exactly Black Metal is for this genre has branched out into sub-genres and sub-sub-genres even. I describe Ildjarn’s music as a hybrid of Norwegian Black Metal and Hardcore Punk aggression. Ildjarn had stripped down his version of Black Metal into its very basic form. Production-wise the album was recorded with a rusty 4 track machine, low tech and ugly. There is not much variety in his style and his song structures are quite simple, mechanical and monotonous that it is almost hypnotic. He seems to be repeating himself over and over in every song with his primitive rhythms, droning strings and to what sounds like a programmed drum machine, but it is not say that he lacks talent, but to my opinion he intended it to sound that way to express himself in a misanthropic manner. I would rather listen to this than a heavily orchestrated group such as Cradle of Filth. A factor that sets Black Metal Artists apart from their Death Metal colleagues is that Black Metalers tend to appreciate Mother Nature. It is apparent that Black Metalers had composed songs that are dedicated to winter, wildlife, forest, mountains, nighttime, stars and the moon. Ildjarn is no exception, with the title of this album alone “Forest Poetry” testifies his inclination to nature rather than the subjects of satanism or death. The average song last about 2 minutes, the first printing released in 1996 contains 22 tracks, the latest edition released by Northern Heritage has a dozen bonus tracks and last for more than 70 minutes. To the majority this album would be regarded as nothing but noise but to an aficionado of the rawest form of Black Metal, Ildjarn is music to his ears literally.
First off, as many people have mentioned, this album almost has the worst production I've ever heard on something that's been officially released, only surpassed by the 8 track version of Vlad Tepes' La Morte Lune and maybe Mayhem's Pure Fucking Armageddon. I've heard live gigs and rehearsal bootlegs that have better sound quality than this. However, I believe this was done deliberately. Why do I think this? Well, I have pretty much every Ildjarn release out there and most, including the earlier releases and demos, have better production than this. Now, you may ask, what would be the point in having a deliberately shitty, or so called "raw", production? Well, this album is the most ferocious, angry, bestial and violent assault on the listener I've ever heard (save for the following Ildjarn album, Strength And Anger) and the production is key to this. The guitars have little sustain (almost no compression for those familiar with guitar or recording terms), are very scratchy and sounds like Ildjarn is playing them his hardest and yet struggling to get a constant stream of distortion out of them. The bass is very distorted, sometimes almost taking the guitars traditional place. Indeed, at times the guitar is simply left out letting the bass pound on. Despite the deceptively simple nature of Ildjarn, the bass does not always follow the guitar as one might expect such a project to do. It does have it's own melody sometimes, occasionally adding a bit of discordance to the already horrific mix, adding that extra little bit of anger and hatred to things. The vocals are fairly distorted and are usually buried quite low in the mix beneath everything else. The drums are just there to keep time as it were, almost serving no purpose than to keep the beat, yet the symbols do at times add more distortion to the mix. I don't think there are even any snare rolls as in some of the tracks on Det Frysende Nordariket and Son Of The Northstar, if there were, I missed them, or they were covered by the distortion.
You may think that all Ildjarn is doing is writing some shitty three chord riffs and using the minimalist label to hide his musical shortcomings. Yet when you listen to some of the songs more carefully, you will notice that a surprising amount of care and skill has gone into writing and recording these songs. The most notable being the ones mentioned above, the use of the bass guitar to get extra discordance and using symbols as extra devices to achieve more distortion.
After recording this album and the improvised, spontaneous Landscapes, Ildjarn decided to try and better the ferocity of this album with Strength And Anger. It did what it said on the tin, and indeed bettered this album in terms of sheer violence, yet lacked some of the musical quality that can be found on this release. Hence, this is my favourite Ildjarn release. And yes, incase you were wondering, the session tracks on the re-release are more of the same, just minus the vocals.
As a side note, a couple of the songs/riffs on this album were later borrowed or slightly changed and re-recorded for Sort Vokter's Folkloric Necro Metal album e.g. Chill Of The Night (Returning) was the starting point for Ni Gygrer/Nattjakt. I think of Sort Vokter as a more clinical (well produced), mysterious version of this album, as in terms of song writing, they are fairly similar.
This is (overall) a good album, definitely worth the money it costs to buy a copy. However, about 40% of the songs on it are total trash.
There's a big difference between taking recording to an extreme, and just being a douchebag with a four-track; these guys seem to like being the latter. This album is by far the worst recorded piece of black metal ever, (and no matter how "tr00" this makes it, it doesn't make it good at all!). A few saving graces are that this album does have melody and tone to it, and they do invoke a sense of power and anger within the listener, although in some songs the anger comes from the shitty sound of the tape.
Anyway, it really isn't a bad release, but one irk I have with anything Ildjarn does is that it's either well recorded lo-fi type stuff, or BAD recorded lo-fi stuff, unfortunately, a lot of this album gets classified with the BAD.
The drums are okay, the bass is nothing, and the rest is just crap, the vocals do come out in the mix to be harsh, and I love that, the timing's also dead on; but the rest of it just clashes.
Ildjarn is one of the ugliest, rawest and most primitive Black Metal bands of all time, and this, his second full length is one of his best works ever. Here you will find almost an hour of pure sonic hatred in its most extreme form: raw sounding guitars, pounding bass, harsh vocals and skull crushing drums blend to create pure hatred in the form of music. Most people think that Ildjarn’s albums are pointless noise, but actually the music is well structured and organized, it’s just that in your first listen you won’t notice the brilliance behind this. Just imagine a more extreme version of early Bathory mixed with the song structures of bands like VON. Here are also some instrumental songs that are very interesting and add atmosphere to the album, and if this wasn’t long enough, the tape version includes some bonus material reaching the total of 26 tracks. If you like dirty, raw (Darkthrone sounds polished compared to this) Black Metal, “Forest Poetry” is an essential release.