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After a four year wait, Ofermod return with their second full length set of praises to the forces of the Sitra Ahra. Further developing the “orthodox religious death metal” sound, Thaumiel finds itself even further from the Mystérion sound than Tiamtü was, though overall it’s still distinctly and easily recognizable as an Ofermod release. The riffs are more aggressive and the song structures more complex/varied, often switching tempos or tones multiple times a song while avoiding sounding like a bizarre concatenation of random riffs. This is not to say the songs are predictable but that even the unexpected turns still feel appropriate to that song as a whole. Michayah hasn’t quite perfected his unique “orthodox” sound yet but it’s pretty damn good none-the-less. Everything is more ritualistic, giving the album an atmosphere of being a grand ceremony to the Dark Gods progressing as a concentration, culmination, and release of energy; the frequent use of chanting is a powerful addition as well. Michayah’s lyrics are also always welcome as they go far beyond the standard “blah blah, Satan, blah” style lyrics that plague so many so-called “Satanic” oriented bands; they feel even more personal on this album than previous efforts.
There are a few issues I take with this release though that prevent me from giving it a higher score. JK/Tehom’s vocals are a bit all over the place and can take some getting used to. When I first listened to the album, I thought he was drunk because of the strange tonal shifts. After spending time with the album, the initial feeling of bizarreness has gone but some of his deliveries still do come across as strange. On a positive note, his vocals fit the more aggressive sound of the album quite well.
The second major issue I have is with two songs, specifically Undead Moon and the re-recording of Chained to Redemption. While a great concept, Undead Moon falls a bit short of its potential taking it from what could have been a great song to something that’s just ok. Kvarforth’s vocals seem a bit soft in the first half, picking up strength in the second half. Also, you really pronounced Lucifer as Luchifer, Niklas...seriously? What the fuck. Nitpicking aside, the song strays into My Dying Bride territory for a bit towards the end, detracting from its originality. As previously stated, it’s not a bad song but it could have been much better. As for Chained to Redemption, it wasn’t “ruined”, it just feels out of place here. On a album that is much more death metal oriented, putting what is clearly a black metal song in the mix just makes it seem like the weird, red-headed step-child song. Sticking the heavier, death metal-esque production/guitar tones on it doesn’t mask the fact that structurally and tonally, it’s still a black metal song that doesn’t really fit with the rest of the album.
With a bit tighter song writing and further development of the orthodox religious death metal sound, Ofermod have the potential to release something monumental. As it stands, Thaumiel is a solid release and promises great things for the future.
Ritualistic chants, drums and guitars. Welcome to the newest offering of Ofermod, a Swedish black metal band who are known as one of the first of the orthodox black metal movement. But this band has come a long way since then and surpassed such labels.
The term "Orthodox religious death metal", which was used to label the previous effort Tiamtü, seems to fit here much more. Still not without black metal elements, this album ventures deeper into the realm of death metal than its predecessor, taking a huge step forward and distancing itself even more further from the band's demos in all aspects. If you're looking for the old glory days of Mystérion go look somewhere else.
The production is a whole lot different than on the previous releases, well made, more appropiate. Evil, occultish atmosphere fills the room as the listener wanders into the world of Thaumiel. Ever-present drums while never overwhelming, twisted guitar riffs, varied tempos and sick vocals are that make this album what it is. Never mind the absence of Nebiros, the vocal work of JK (Tehom) fits the result much more. Maybe he doesn't have the diversity of Attila Csihar but he certainly delivers. This time Michayah shows how to write a record that won't be buried by time and dust, the songs are much more memorable here than on the previous album. The session musicians who appear in this album don't disappoint the listener either.
Ritualistic chants, drums and guitars. This is how the album starts. The first track is to set the appropiate mood, puts you right into an age of darkness and occultism, even utilizing choirs. The second track increases the tempo and shows the riffing capatibilities of Michayah. The absolute highlight of the album is the third track, amplifying everthing that were just introduced in the previous song. You may feel as the next song is out of place. It's the slowest track of the album and features clean vocals of Kvarforth. You'll eventually get to the re-recording of "Chained to Redemption". If you are to think it has been ruined as the other re-recording, guess again! This version is much more powerful, showing different faces while retaining many qualities of the original version. The album closer is something that would fit the last album of Marduk as well.
Should you listen to this album? This is a silly question, you're bound to be blown away by its freshness, sheer brutality and occult atmosphere. But how good is it? This album is a definite winner if we are to determine which is the best extreme metal record of 2012. Without a second thought.
(originally written for http://csehszlovakze.blogspot.com/)
So as we march towards the end of the year I've been awaiting releases from some pretty spiffing bands to see if it would beat Mgla's 'With Hearts Towards None', it would appear my invocations have been received and delivered unto very satisfactorily with the new Ofermod, Hell Militia and Shining albums (reviews for the latter following shortly). Interestingly the new Hell Militia and Shining albums brought to mind Ofermod so I was interested to see how the progenitors would fare against those so evidently influenced by them.
I've been waiting with bated breath for Ofermod's newest release after their previous excellent effort Tiamtu, the sinister Swedes have managed to follow it up with their best work yet and definitely one of the best albums I've heard this year.
Thaumiel is awash with atmosphere and dripping in malevolence, for those that don't know Ofermod are a Satanic band first and foremost, their music being an invocation to the dark gods; their ideology is based around the Kliffot as can be witnessed from the name Thaumiel the god at the top of the 'Tree of Death' from whom all other gods emanate. This information may seem superfluous to your appreciation for Ofermod but (to sound elitist) to fully accept the glory of Ofermod one has to at least commend their ideals even if you don't align yourselves with their beliefs, the music is but one mere facet to Ofermod and whilst thoroughly enjoyable understanding their views and what they are preaching about adds another dimension to the music. This has always been the case with Ofermod but I feel on this album they exemplify it more so than they have on any other album; the whole album feels incredibly ritualistic, the whole album is imbued with a darkness that has not been so definitively captured for some time and definitely not in anything I've heard this year.
The songs are rich, dense and seeped in atmosphere, whilst 'Tiamtu' has more death metal leanings in its sounds Thaumiel is slightly colder but still maintains a thick oppressive production that has become a staple of Ofermod. The album is mostly a slow, lumbering leviathan with simplistic riffs weaving in and out of the bass and drums. Musically the songs are what one would expect from Ofermod and there is not great departure with dissonant chords and lots of minor inflections throughout the album. Something that makes the album incredibly atmospheric is the utilisation of choiral vocals which really give a sense of ritualism to the songs, coupled with clean vocals that break through every so often infuse the album with a darkness that is more menacing than their previous works. The instrumentation is nothing that particularly excels, I would be surprised if you remark upon the 'complexity' of any of the instruments because there isn't any particularly, nor are there riffs that will have you humming for hours afterwards, the songs though are lush and dense in their composition that negate the need for any technical wankery, after all, technicality is not necessarily a display of musical brilliance
This is an album that wins for me on a couple of points, initially this is an album that feels like it is contributing to black metal as a whole, helping to push it towards the darker ideals that I believe it should be, this album (as with all other Ofermod releases) will go down as another step in legitimising black metals darker beliefs, cementing it as a truly dark genre and hopefully putting another nail in the coffin of fantastical and irrelevant black metal bands themes. Secondly, although this is an album contributing to black metal it is also an album that exists for itself and its own cause, whatever other praise may be showered upon the band is merely an added bonus and this can be seen with Ofermod's lack of interaction with the 'scene' as a whole, they want to proffer their sermons and that is all, unlike a band like Watain for example who have a similar belief system but are also dedicated to trying to spread their message to the masses (or so they say, the lure of big bucks seems like a more likely reason). There have been some exceptional albums this year but most of the albums I've heard only fit into one of the above categories for example Hell Militia, Behexen and Vorkreist would fit into the first category and Shining, Enslaved and Blut Aus Nord would fit into the latter.
In some ways I'm worried that I'm buying too much into Ofermod and investing too much into their atmosphere, what knowledge surrounds the band, their ideas as much as I do the music, however I'm able to satisfy any misgivings I may have by the knowledge that for me black metal should be a dark, introspective and at times harrowing journey, I want naught to do with premises of trolls, orcs, nature, etc., Ofermod fills these expectations I have of black metal. This is not to say that I think anyone will enjoy the songs any less, they are still first class but I do believe that added depth is added when the whole experience can be absorbed and digested.
Score - 92%
(Originally written for baileysmmcreamy.blogspot.com)