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Strong melodies hold up project - that's all - 63%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, December 13th, 2012

Storm was a short-lived side project formed by Fenriz (Darkthrone) and Satyr (Satyricon) with Kari-Ann Rueslatten (then vocalist of The 3rd and the Mortal) to experiment in a style of blackened metal mixed with traditional Norwegian folk music as a way of asserting their love of Norwegian culture, values and ways of life. The trio recorded one album "Nordavind" which consists of metal cover versions of old Norwegian folk songs and broke up not long after, Rueslatten initiating the split after finding anti-Christian sentiments expressed in some of the changed lyrics. Well, what did she expect? I personally think the trio wouldn't have lasted long anyway once the novelty of recording folk songs as metal songs wore off: Fenriz had other projects happening including his ambient all-synth Neptune Towers project, whose related concept albums "Caravans to Empire Algol" and "Transmissions from Empire Algol" were reissued in 2012, and he seems to have been the prime instigator(?) for Storm.

Most of the songs are very short and only two break the four-minute barrier. They all feature very strong and highly idiosyncratic melodies and rhythms that don't exist in any other music genre outside Norway and lend themselves readily to the expression of heroic values, stoicism and endurance in the face of a harsh, even malevolent natural environment. An example is the song "Haavard Hedde" which is about a guy who establishes a farm with a forest of just two pine trees, marries and has a family; although he appreciates the forest and the serenity it brings him, he recognises that to raise his children and to keep himself and his wife secure in their old age he will have to cut down the trees. (Interestingly the song was also covered by Runhild Gammalsaeter on the Sunn0))) album "White2" but without the melody.) The songs provide plenty of opportunities for all three to showcase their vocal talents, and the men make the most of theirs, one of them singing confidently without accompaniment on "Nagellstev" and savouring every word as he does so. Rueslatten mostly provides back-up vocals across the album and takes the lead on just a couple of songs including one done without musical accompaniment ("Lokk").

The actual music itself is not remarkable: the guitars have a distinctive whining, spidery chainsaw sound and stick to outlining the melody and the song-line for the vocalists to follow on each track. Even where there are instrumental passages, there is no lead guitar improvising on the melody, and the overall impression listeners will get is of a very thin sound. This highlights the very substantial structure and salty flavour of the songs: Norwegian folk music certainly could teach modern musicians more than a thing or two about how to create songs and long instrumental music with individuality and character!

The project would have been good for two albums at least and maybe a third before the musicians tired of it. The only way Storm could survive longer if they had continued would have been to do original material based on native folk melodies or maybe set folk epics and folk tales to music. As it is, "Nordavind" is an interesting footnote for fans of Fenriz, Satyr and Rueslatten who must have everything these musicians have done but for most people outside Norway who are not students of history or cultural sociology the songs have limited value in themselves.