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Storm was a short-lived folk metal supergroup that existed in the early 1990’s, releasing a single full-length recording in 1995 before breaking up shortly afterward. The group featured an impressive lineup that consisted of Gylve “Fenriz” Nagell of Darkthrone on drums and vocals, Sigurd “Satyr” Wongraven of Satyricon on vocals and all other instruments, and Kari Rueslåtten, former vocalist of The 3rd and the Mortal, providing female vocals. Nordavind, the sole result of this collaboration, consists of a mix of original material and metal versions of traditional Norwegian folk songs. While the vocal performance on the album is certainly praiseworthy, unfortunately Nordavind as a whole does not live up to the expectations set by such a talented lineup. The music on the album can be best described as generic folk metal that does little to push the boundaries of the genre or distinguish itself from the countless other folk metal albums released in the mid-1990’s. There is a noted lack of folk instrumentation on the album, with the musical emphasis being placed instead on electric guitars and, to a lesser extent, keyboards. The folk elements are mainly present in the guitar riffs and the vocal delivery. Overall, Nordavind provides a fun but entirely forgettable listen.
Certainly Nordavind’s biggest drawback is its inclusion of many uninspired songs. While the album flows along in a logical manner, with consistency being maintained through each song’s similarity in style, the strength of the individual pieces varies greatly. The album begins with a very promising instrumental intro, but follows this up with three lackluster songs. The first really enjoyable song on the album is track five, “Nagellstev”, but it is a drum and vocal piece that is only a minute long. While there are no really bad tracks on the album, there are only a few good pieces that manage to stand out. The mediocre tracks have the distracting effect of blending together, and this makes it difficult to appreciate some of the album’s better moments. By far the worst track featured on Nordavind is “Langt Borti Lia”, a seven-minute piece that long overstays its welcome and really contributes nothing of value to the album. Again, it’s not bad, but it’s a forgettable piece that drones on far too long and serves no real purpose. Its considerable length also hurts the album significantly. Nordavind is a very short album that clocks in at just over thirty-three minutes, so an ineffective seven-minute piece should be considered a serious detriment. In contrast, however, the best song featured on the album is “Noregsgard”, another lengthy track that clocks in at over eight minutes. This song bases itself on the main riff of the Darkthrone song “Quintessence”, while adding some tasteful keyboard parts to give it more of a folk metal feel. This rendition is very effective, and “Noregsgard”, combined with the acoustic instrumental outro that follows it, end up being an excellent way to end an otherwise stale album.
Despite the album’s many shortcomings, one aspect of Nordavind deserves enthusiastic praise. The vocal performance of all three musicians is excellent, with Kari Rueslåtten in particular providing an absolutely brilliant performance. Rueslåtten has a beautiful voice, and the album’s biggest error is relegating her to a mostly background role that is secondary to the male vocalists. She is only featured on four tracks, and contributes only a few lines to two out of the four. She is given just one moment to truly shine on the album; this is on the brief a cappella track “Lokk”. This is a beautiful folky piece that demonstrates well the vocalist’s strength, and is the only must-listen track on the album besides “Noregsgard”. Addressing the male vocal parts, which are split relatively evenly between Fenriz and Satyr, both vocalists also provide a very strong performance that fits the style of music well. Surprisingly, given the male musicians’ backgrounds, clean vocals are the favored technique on Nordavind, with Satyr providing a few lines of harsh black metal vocals on only two of the album’s tracks (“Mellom Bakkar Og Berg” and “Oppi Fjellet”).
As already noted, Storm disbanded shortly after the release of Nordavind, and released no further material. The reason for the split was Rueslåtten’s disapproval of the anti-Christian lyrics Satyr added to the track “Oppi Fjellet”, apparently late in the album’s recording process. It is a shame that the band had such an acrimonious split, because the lineup certainly had the potential to create something great. Nordavind certainly has some inspired moments, and a follow-up featuring Rueslåtten’s vocals more prominently could have ended up a very impressive album. There is also a good chance that a follow-up album would have had more original songwriting, as the band learned to develop its strengths. As it stands, Storm left behind a frustratingly disappointing legacy. Nordavind is a forgettable work that did not age well and does not hold up in comparison to classics in the genre. It is, however, worth at least one listen for the strength of the vocal performance alone.