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In Times in which Black Metal seems to stagnate due to the lack of ideas or limitations within the genre, the moments in which you find an excellent work, which stands above other ones, have been getting more and more rare. The norwegians among KOLDBRANN who appeared on the scene in 2004 with their first full length album "Nekrotisk Inkvisition" belong to those bands who lift off from the mass of average bands and confirm their status with there 2006 release "Moribund" playing outstanding diversified Black Metal full of anger, hatred and without any compromise.
Listening to KOLDBRANN, the listener feels carried back into the early 90s - the time of BURZUM (a.a. "Aske), MAYHEM (a.a. "De Mysteriis dom Sathanas) and DARKTHRONE (a.a "A Blaze in the Northern Sky"). It's an impressive feeling of desolation, loneliness and melancholia caused by the icy simplicity created on those releases. KOLDBRANN is able to catch the early 90s atmosphere perfectly without copying the ancient legends of the genre and without becoming unreliable. KOLDBRANN breathes early 90s atmosphere and this is the strong point in which KOLDBRANN differs from others. "Moribund" is extremely diversified and it is streaked with a lot of speed changes from slow and mid tempo passages to real hellish fury with really fast blasts and doublebass. Another important facet of this album are the great melodies played at certain parts; they form all the parts of any song to a whole differentiated union of outstanding value. Concerning the production i must say that it is one the one side different from "Nekrotisk Inkvisition" (one can hear way more details and especially the drums sound more effervescent) but on the other side it's still nekro and reveals the spirit that is necessary.
To conclude, I must say that KOLDBRANN are a real must for all those who like Black Metal in a traditonal and sweeping way!
First and foremost I have to ascertain that I do like Koldbrann. Really, "Nekrotisk Inkvisition" with its brutal, cold and incredibly ugly sound still gives me goosebumbs while listening. Because of this the expectation I had in this piece of work was quite high, as you can imagine, even though all reviews I read were very positive and enthusiastic. Because of all of this I bought this full-length on the day of its release and put it into my stereo.
There are very few positive aspects I can report about this full-length from this time on. Some ideas seem to be good, such as the beginning of "Alt Er Befengt", which is heartwarmingly aggressive, but why the hell does this last for only a few seconds? The odd time of this song, as will be seen in all other songs, is boring, disrupted and not even uninspired.
The main problem is, in my opinion, that Koldbrann know how to write good songs and seem to have good ideas, but in here they do not put them together in order to create good songs. You will always find one or another line which is unique and carries emotions, but they are like seedlings in the winter - blown down by the cold wind which constantly howls the same way. They are cut of and never to be seen again, so no song can really last in your ears or even the brain for longer than its time playing.
At least the sound is good, I must admit, you can hear every instrument clearly, even the bass, but to me the whole thing sounds just like someone tried to produce an evil atmosphere who commited his sins after doing this. Although the sound is not Dimmu-like perfect, it is too clear and weak to be as Koldbrann should, which is evil, ugly and strenous. The instruments are used well, technichally I can make no complaints. But is this what you want of a black metal release?
Mannevond, the vocalist, sounds like a cartoon of himself. Only having listened to "Nekrotisk Inkvisition" you would have recommended psychotherapy or the locked ward for him, now I would only advise him to see a doctor about his throat. He does definitely not sound evil, not even pissed, just a bit embarrassed.
What kills every reputation of the album is the song "Av Sjel Stagnert", which perkily uses a large part of Darkthrone's "Paragon Belial" from the well-known "A Blaze In the Northern Sky", but putting it into the middle-section of the song instead of the end. Dear guys, if you have no ideas, please copy some bands who weren't copied a million times, or at least do it more inconspicuously.
I rate 25, because of technical qualities, some, but few, good ideas and the well defined sound, which is powerless on the other hand. To me, the negative aspects outweigh the positive.
I thought I would never appreciate the Norwegian scene again after all the recent releases from the prominent bands... but I was wrong.
Koldbrann's second album "Moribund" is a killer Norwegian black metal album that brings back the old school feel and touch. When I listen to this particular album I find that the guitar riff structures are similar to Taake which is great because it's a very unique sound.
Unlike their first release, Moribund has great production! Don't run off in fear now, the good production takes no feeling or atmosphere away from this album. In fact, I think the production level is perfect for such a band, it was a nice change from the low production. Everything comes together perfect and creates something very beautiful.
The instruments are all equal sounding, nothing over powers anything -- you can hear bass guitar! The drums do not sound as weird as they did on the first release, they are crisp, clean, fast, and accurate. The vocals are grim, cold, and tongue lashing. Mannevond's vocals on this album are some of the best I've heard in the Norwegian black metal scene in a few years.
Moribund is one of those CD's that you put in your CD player and not take it out for months because it doesn't get boring!!! I'm still happy listening to it over 3 times a day and still being mesmerized. I highly recommend you get your hands on this album.
It seems that the past three years of relentless song-writing and dedication have finally paid off for Koldbrann. Their second full-length album, "Moribund" (the Latin word for "death"), finally ascends from the pits of Koldbrann's disharmonic musical realm and unto the surface of this material realm, announcing with such storming force that True Norwegian Black Metal (TNBM) still lives and hails from the far north. And it also seems that Koldbrann have invested less 'necro' on this release as opposed to their debut (whose title's first five letters were "Nekro.."). In fact the sound on "Moribund" is so diverse and developed, had the band decided to merge the material on Atomvinter (Koldbrann's EP release of 2006) with their latest release .. that would have turned out to be a real bad idea. The main reason would be that the newer material on "Moribund" was recorded at JAKs Hell studios in Preetz, Germany. Incidently, this is also where Endstille always record their material, but this wasn't a coincidence. Ever since Koldbrann toured with Endstille on the Anti-Trigger Tour, both bands shared common interests and finally joined forces on this album. Endstille band members, Iblis and L. Wachtfels, even made a contributing performance on some tracks.
This is not to say that Koldbrann's sound on "Moribund" sounds similar to Endstille's releases, neither is it a clone of any other names. "Moribund" is pure Norwegian Black Metal at its finest and at its coldest. The guitars are tuned to issue furious (yet enjoyable) riffs that are reminiscent of the ancient 90's decade with its rich hordes of demonic vogue. Songs are structured very differently from their counterparts on the debut. Koldbrann are able to give each song a brooding intro that will build a unique atmosphere, then a song will reach an intense climax where all instruments are brought to the foreground, then a relapse in tempo at which the listener is able to recover from the fiendish rythms, then an outro and this is where Koldbrann (surprisingly) incroprates some melody (very similar in nature to Taake's own melodic riffs). But this is not the way all the songs are structured. Sometimes the climax of a track is in the first quarter and then it's followed by multiple changes in tempo throughout. This unanticipated, dynamic aspect of songwriting engages the listener in a way that compells the listener to stay focussed and always guessing what's coming next. This makes "Moribund" a very listenable album that never gets boring.
Ironically, the weakest instrument on this release - the drums, are actually the driving force behind "Morbund"'s intricate beauty. Even though they weren't triggered to sound as they should have (in my opinion), they are relentless in building and collapsing the tempo of each song and thus setting up an adequate atmosphere. The drums sound very much like Grim's (Gorgoroth) drumming. But it must be noted that Grim's drumming is very suited to the style of riffs played by Gorgoroth's and would not fit very well with the style played by Koldbrann. I would have liked to listen to a more louder, sharper drumming sound very much like the style played by Horgh (Immortal). Nevertheless, the drumming on "Moribund" is a definite improvement over the drum-work exerted on the debut (which sounded very muffled and feeble).
With the exception of a couple of tracks, all songs on "Moribund" are written in Norwegian lyrics. This has always been a trademark that pertains to most Norwegian Black Metal bands. Some bands go to the extreme of writing their songs entirely in dead Norwegian/Germanic tongue, but this is not the case for Koldbrann. Kvass (lead guitarist) has been writing some of these lyrics since 2003 and some song lyrics weren't written until before the recording of the album in Germany. Kvass' use of metaphors is very evident and redundant that the entire lyrical structure acts as an encompassing trope to make a conceiled (apocalyptic at times) interpretation of death and sickness and mostly hatred directed towards the Church or the Christian (sheep-herd-mentality) creed. Perhaps this is why the word "Satan" was never uttered (not surprisingly) - not once - throughout the 60-miunte duration of the album. A closer look into the Norwegian lyrics (if you have the ability to decipher them) will explain why. Not only is "Moribund"'s production attributed to German skillfulness but its cover artwork is also attributed to the brilliance of German painter, Stephan Lochner, whose painting dates back to a few centuries ago (entitled "The Last Judgement"). It depicts the final moments when people/sinners are being condemned to eternal torment in the abyss. Koldbrann made the right choice because this art offers the same sort of atmosphere that "Moribund" tries to build and the same sort of aspects that serve Kvass's lyrical themes best.
The only downside of this album is its relentless length. Eleven tracks of the coldest Black Metal amounts almost to an hour of run time. It's likely that all the material Koldbrann had written in the past three years were instilled tightly (and carefully) into "Moribund". It goes without saying that true Norwegian Black Metal bands always release albums that are half the length of that which is delivered by "Moribund". But perhaps bands like Ljå, Taake, Urgehal, and Koldbrann are an exception to that rule; able to structure their songs/albums to maximum lengths without any serious compromises. To be able to write lengthy, raw yet dynamic Black Metal is a feat that very few bands are able to pull off. In a Metal1.Info interview, Mannevond (Koldbrann's vocalist/guitarist) was asked about how content he was about "Moribund" and he answered that they [Koldbrann] "have made a good progression from the debut, both when thinking of lyrics and song structures, but also playing- and sound-wise of course. But it has definitely not turned into any polished or triggered shit if someone were to think that. Koldbrann is still harsh and disharmonic Norwegian Black Metal".
Even though the style and sound of Satyricon-like riffs are very palpable on "Moribund", this is not to say that Koldbrann are developing into one of the many Satyricon clones. In fact, with "Moribund", Koldbrann seems to be on the right track of developing an independent and unique sound of their own. Just because they decided to tune their guitars the same way Satyricon used to do more than a decade ago doesn't mean they are reiterating older compostitions. Rest assured, I'm more willing to pay for an album like "Moribund" to get a continuation of Satyricon's ancient true sound, than pay for anything that resembles Satyricon's own later material such as "Rebel Extravaganza" and "Volcano" or even "Now, Diabolical" (which really gave alot of people reason to believe that TNBM is dead, when it's not). So one can only wonder why older bands like Satyricon or Darkthrone can't (or won't?) write song structures resembling the ones on "Moribund" anymore.
Favored tracks are "Alt Er Befengt", "I Suveren Forakt", "Moribund" (title track), and "Skvadron". These tracks are the ones that are written and arranged the best.
Originality ........... 17
Musicianship ....... 15
Songwriting ......... 20
Production .......... 18
Lyrics ................. 20