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Transcendental - 100%

Ghost_in_the_Machine, March 27th, 2005

I’m almost certain The Supreme Force of Eternity is probably one of the most overlooked albums in all of death metal. Through some horrid twist of fate, Runemagick would later gain notoriety for releasing entirely derivative and forgettable pieces of trite nostalgia like Requiem of the Apocalypse--but buried underneath all the bullshit and the hype courtesy of scenes and such is a work of inexplicable dark, brooding, and unearthly power.

Firstly, describing the style of Runemagick at this point is easy, and at the same time, a complete mindfuck. The overwhelming aesthetic is that of classic early 90s death metal. You know, when death metal actually had restraint and moderation. Into the Grave and Human come to mind--albums with some post thrash speed, but often broken up by sections of plodding groove. The subtleties are really what make this sound difficult to explain. At this point Rudolfsson (the sole essence of Runemagick) carries a lot of black metal baggage with him, which can be witnessed with early Swordmaster and (well...duh) Sacramentum. Some of the themes commonly associated with black metal, mysticism, the summoning of dark power, and even an aversion towards orthodox metal composition (the riffing from The Black Wall could have very well been penned by Abbath during Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism) permeate the music. It’s never enough to confront the listener, but it’s entirely enough to captivate the listener as effectively as something blatant like De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. The lead guitar also carries with it a very subtle quality that undoubtedly did not come from old school death metal. Its style is just as reliant on tone and tempo as that of Jesper Stromland/Glenn Ljungstrom, using ambience and slow hand playing to sustain the captivating simplicity of the core melodic passages. The notes themselves can be best described as quintessential Viking metal--they carry a heroic but somber sense of duty with them, reveling in the glory of death in battle, and at the same time, acknowledging death is a lonesome journey (see Amon Amarth).

The music itself always offers something for the patient, something for the seasoned death metal fan, and something for those seeking music that simply transcends itself. For the patient, almost every track has a pay off lead, or a modest yet captivating hook, while tracks like Nocturnal Creation will have the old school death metal fan feeling obliged to pee on any Nile or Immolation album/fan in sight. Last but not least, for those looking for the transcendental will be enthralled with songs that are nothing short of modern incantations, lethargically summoning forth dark power in trance like soundscapes (For You My Death, The Black Wall...pay special attention to the harmony created by bass lines), and at the same time, protecting the majestic secrets of that power (The Sign of Eternity) with vague, sublime, and most of all, mystical clean guitar work.

The end result of this work is full conceptual coherence--the lyrical focus of unearthly power and penchant for ancient and esoteric iconography is fully expressed through brooding bass lines, larger than life riffs and leads, and at the same, obscured by the mystic beauty of the few passages of clean guitar and keys. Ultimately, while other Runemagick albums are certainly entertaining, none of them carry the meaning and aura of The Supreme Force of Eternity. Every fan of death or black metal should own this, but especially those who appreciate works with captivating themes and soundscapes (Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, Heart of the Ages) above and beyond itself.