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Ah, Ildjarn. Probably the most caustic and ‘unlistenable’ of black metal projects from Norway. Once, Ildjarn was part of the death metal band Thou Shalt Suffer, together with Ihsahn and Samoth. After that band broke up Ildjarn went his own direction, literally the complete opposite of what his former bandmates would do with Emperor. Although there is quite a lot of variation between his various releases, the basic core of all Ildjarn material consists of short bursts of maniacal, punkish powerchording, with the bass-guitar usually in the lead, underpinned by Ildjarn viciously pounding away on his drum-set, recorded in the most abominable fashion.
This recording would be Ildjarn’s final black metal material before turning into a full-time ambient-project and it’s basically the ultimate expression of rabid anger, the pure, black hatred of his earlier material comes to complete fruition here. This is, to put it simply, the perfect Ildjarn album as well as the most consistent and conceptually pure of his works.
The title Strength and Anger, along with the distorted cover picture of a snarling man-beast is perfectly representational of this disc.
The first half is made up of fifteen tracks between one to four minutes, entitled Strength and Anger I – XV, and the material here is completely mesmerising in its intensity. Streams of violent drumming underscore completely infectious riffs which change direction about two to three times during these short bursts, making for surprisingly varied songs. The amount of reverb and distortion is through the roof, further adding to the disgusting nature of the sounds produced while adding a whole ambiental musical layer of its own. Ildjarn’s voice sounds harsh and completely unintelligable when it appears on the first few tracks, before disappearing almost completely on the later tracks. These later tracks, aside from being largely instrumental, also show the more experimental side of Ildjarn, where the soundlevels, general background noise and the amount of distortion are continually altered making the listener experience all the various facets of the one emotion channeled through this release; anger. Indeed, this is probably the most effective record I have ever heard that’s capable of sending me into a homicidal rage, with the black metal songs becoming progressively more disgusting, angry and inhuman. Of note are the final tracks of the first half, which are redone versions of the first few tracks, sans vocals but with an added level of guitar-noise which make them sound even more hateful than the original versions.
This maniacal progression of black fury lasts about forty minutes, the hypnotic chords fully drawing out the primal beast within. But this is just the first half. For then the second ambient part Black Anger (Hate Meditation) starts and this is, unbelievably enough, even more effective in putting one in a violently insane mindset. After the body has tired of the draining black metal parts and one sits down to listen to the quiet second half of this disc, the mind has become receptive to the insidious drones and dark sounds which will seep into the unconscious, altering the state of mind even further. Truly, Hate Meditation perfectly describes this part. The abruptly shifting drones set the mind on edge, creating paranoia and frustation, the body ready to lash out at anything living that might be near. While the black metal tracks serve to create the seed of anger, these ambient parts nourish it, causing it to flower into the Black Anger after which they are named. It is this part that makes one want to rip out peoples throats with one’s teeth, to gnaw on their marrow and shove one’s thumbs through their eyes. I can feel it even now while listening to it. Finally tension is relieved through a short black metal Interchange after which the second part of Hate Meditation winds down with one oscillating note, slowly bringing one back into the real world.
This is the ultimate expression of true, unadulterated hatred in the black ambient metal world. Many people will not be able to stomach this, which is as it should be.
Try at your own risk.