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Given how crappy Ildjarn's solo stuff is, it's hard to understand what happened here. After all, even though there are other band members now, Ildjarn is still obviously the big musical influence. We have short songs, which are all extremely repetitive, and some ambient parts. But for some reason it all just comes together, like all those monkeys clattering away at their typewriters finally managed to write some Shakespeare.
This album is like a study in how to do contrast right. On the one hand, you have the keys, which are mechanical and sterilized to the point of frigidity. On the other, you have...everything else, which is as buzzy-fuzzy as BM gets while still remaining listenable. The two forces create this great dichotomy that carries you through the album. Sometimes the keys are all there are, sometimes everything is there, and some songs don't have keyboards.
Probably the best example of this is track 3, the name of which escapes me and is unimportant anyway. The song starts out with everything except the keys buzzing away like a bat out of hell, then the keys come in, and then everything else fades out. So simple, but it works so well. Another highlight is track 8, which comes on the heels of a semi-peaceful ambient piece, and then kicks your face in. This track is noteworthy because Ildjarn does the vocals for it. This motherfucker can seriously crank out some vocals, he sounds like a troll general barking orders to his minions. I love it.
Another thing you'll notice during the course of the normal songs is that they all revolve around this pulsating almost-dance-club-worthy beat. If you put this on a decent sound system, it'll thump pretty damn hard, and that's saying something for BM. The revolving effect is interesting though, almost trance inducing.
Ambience. I normally despise ambience, cause it's usually Burzumesque and sucks ass, but this is how to do it right. The last track is a good example. It's like 8 minutes long, but 'revolves' the same way the other songs do. The other ambient tracks rely more on fuzziness than clear keyboards, but for some reason none of them suck.
I can't recommend this album more. It's like the soundtrack to the wilderness. If not for Burzum's Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, it might be the best BM album ever recorded, but it's definitely the best of its style if nothing else.
Sort Vokter used to be Ildjarn’s side-project. Although there seem to be rumors of a demo being recorded prior to this, it was never officially released and “Folkloric Necro Metal” is everything we have got from this strange atmospheric black metal band. And what a mindblowing fucking album it is!
Sort Vokter’s art isn’t entirely original. They seem to have incorporated some elements from Burzum, while focusing more on the theme of Nature, like Ulver did on “Nattens Madrigal”. As the title of this review suggests, Folkloric Necro Metal actually has a lot in common with Nattens Mardigal. It comes to the listener as the very essence of Nature in its most primitive and beautiful (or ugly, depending on the kind of song) form. Through this album, you will witness various manifestations of Nature at its wildest.
The first song, Kveldstimer, is a definite highlight. It really sets the mood for the rest of the album. As mentioned in the previous review it starts with a synth intro that resembles a church organ. And it slowly builds up until it blasts all of a sudden into something that will probably make you think of the Apocalypse. Many things are awaiting the listener here: some absolutely grandiose/majestic/evil sounding synth melodies unfold as the guitars and percussion jump in the song together, as well as some of the most inhuman, out-of-this-world screams I’ve ever heard. And it goes on for the rest of the song. Probably THE most incredibly powerful, blasting opener I’ve ever heard. Yes, better than Unsilent Storms in the North Abyss. Somehow this song reminds me of Negura Bunget’s album “Zirnindu-Sa”, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Sort Vokter was one of their main influences.
Track two, Langs Stier Uten Ende. This is where you really notice for the first time, that first: the bass is very loud in the mix (If you thought the bass has to be inaudible in true black metal, you’re in for a big shock. If that is not your case, Folkloric Necro Metal still has many more surprises awaiting you...) and second: the production is raw as hell. So the song starts with a pretty creepy bass riff, soon to be joined by the main guitar. Yeah, dark sounding riffs like this galore on Folkloric Necro Metal, so if you like that (and I know you do), you’re in for a treat. As for the poor production, if you’re reading this review, you’ve definitely already experienced that with plenty of other bands so it shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Two of the most memorable songs would be “Grålysning” and “Ni Gygrer – Nattjakt” because they perfectly represent the two “sub-themes” in FNM: day and night. Both sub-themes are symbolized by the instruments used (I tend to associate the keyboards with the light of day and the guitar, bass, drums and screams with the darkness of the night). Grålysning greets you with some extremely raw guitarwork and constant drumming, but after a while the keyboards will make their appearance, slowly becoming louder and louder while the guitar, bass and drums will become weaker until they completely fade away. This symbolizes the passage from night to day; Ildjarn suggests that once the keyboards become the sole instrument heard, all the shadows are gone and the sun has fully risen. The other track, “Ni Gygrer – Nattjakt”, represents the opposite process, but this time the synth melodies are much more gloomy and there is no percussion at all. Soon, the guitar takes over again but the synth remains. By now you can guess that this song is about shadows growing longer as the sun slowly sets and blood-thirsty nocturnal beasts awake from their slumber and leave their dark lair to hunt down some preys in the forest. Creepy.
The vocals are absolutely beyond description. In fact, they are beyond anything from this world, including your imagination. It’s nearly impossible to imagine such maniacal, diabolical and hateful screams being performed by a man, let alone any kind of animal on this planet. On the sixth track (“Hatefulle Tanker ut i Natten”), which I consider to be the sickest and most obscure track on this album, the screams reach such a high level of intensity that they will most likely freeze the listener in his tracks! Songs like this are the reason why Folkloric Necro Metal is always best listened to when alone, deep in the woods late at night, because it is then easier to see the connection between the music and various natural elements surrounding you.
The last song, Fjellstev, is a basic and repetitive, yet mysterious and eerie keyboard composition in the vein of Burzum’s “Rundgang...”. Another highlight, this is a perfect ending for such an eerie album. Fitting!
As a conclusion, some repeated listens may eventually lead the listener to wonder whether or not black metal really is all about shouting “Black metal ist Krieg” 42 times without any real purpose. This is one of the few truly essential albums to ever come out of Norway. Fans of black metal cannot be without this piece of transcendental art.
I suppose there are those out there who harbor the notion that Ildjarn (the individual) can only be good for one thing - that being, of course, the organic ambient chaotic ultrafast necro-black war noise of his eponymous project. But being one of the most unique - and surely most deranged - Norwegian minds around, this album proves he has other tricks up his sleeve, namely the organic ambient chaotic ultrafast necro-black war noise of Sort Vokter, a different beast altogether.
This is way more than just "Ildjarn with keyboards". The music is a fast, eerie, bass-dominated hypnotic swirl with machine-programmed drums, making for a precise, monomaniacal, deranged attack; a forest troll lurching at you with his arms thrust forth, drooling maniacally, his head lolling from side to side in a frenzied trance. The guitar is alchemically distilled into an upper-register hiss, a deliberatley menacing blur that bleeds chaos from above on the entire scene; the keyboards play wickedly haunting, echoing, sometimes downright beautiful melodies, evoking the cold sunrise glimpsed from between the fir leaves while you're dying inside a trap in the snowy ground. Having read these descriptions, bear in mind that this release is far, far removed from any sort of Norsecore or fag-gothic (the production alone, rawer than a wolf's bite wound gone infected, is enough to deter those who seek that kind of garbage); it is essential in the sense that it is a perfect manifestation of the "Beyond Good and Evil" black metal philosophy. The fuzzy, harmonious melodies merge with the relentless, demented bloodlust of the rhythm section, exchanging roles time and time again, and when the entire composition is brought to an end with the amazing ambient closing track, you will have witnessed nature itself put to music. And Natur ist Krieg - this is black metal of the highest order.