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Valfar's second demo ''Det Gamle Riket'' is surprisingly good. Seeing as how Valfar was only 17 at the time of release, I initially didn't have to high expectations. I was pleasantly surprised, however, and it's clear that even at an early age, Valfar was a talented and creative person.
The demo only contains four tracks, and the opening track, ''Mørkets Fyrste'', does a great job of introducing the demo. There's no unnecessary introduction that serves no real purpose. It's a pure black metal song, with a great lead, and with a hidden melody behind the heaviness. This track in particular is a bit more atmospheric than the other songs, and it sounds quite nostalgic. Annette (whom I heard was Valfar's girlfriend, however don't quote me on that) delivers some great vocals; they're very emotional and passionate, and the softer, feminine aspects of her voice compliments the overall heaviness of the track.
All of the other songs share quite a lot of traits with ''Mørkets Fyrste'', as in they're melodic yet heavy. Annette, however, unfortunately only appears on the first and second track. The overall sound of ''Det Gamle Riket'' just seems a bit like a weird hybrid of early Enslaved and Burzum. That isn't to say that Windir ripped off either of these bands, however they are somewhat comparable.
I do like Windir's lyrics in general, and while they are good here, it doesn't seem as if they've reached their true potential yet. All the lyrics is written in Norwegian, in the Sogn dialect to be more exact, and it's mainly about vikings and the local history of Sogndal. That being said, they're not exceptional, and while they are fun to read, they definitely aren't as good as what Valfar would write later on.
I must say, that the shrieks on ''Det Gamle Riket'' might be the best Valfar has ever done; they're so aggressive, they sound so tortured, they're really great. They do sound like a mix of pre-prison Varg and the late 90's Pest, both of which are great. There's just something about the vocals that are so mesmerising, the rawness, the aggressiveness, the emotions, they're truly one of a kind.
The production is something that's impossible not to notice. The production is quite bad, as is to be expected with demos, and while I understand how some more casual metal fans may find the production to be repulsive, I think it's great, and is a part of what makes the demo so good. The raw, frigid production makes it sound so much more, well, raw and frigid. However I would guess that few actually have high expectation to a black metal demo from the 90's anyway.
Overall, I'd say ''Det Gamle Riket'' is a must have for all fans of Windir, as well as most black metal fans, however I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone new to black metal, as it isn't a very welcoming start. It is 22 minutes of pure epicness.
With their second demo, Windir show their ultimate decision - to make shitty music.
Whereas Sogneriket was dull, uninspired, malformed, but at the same time moderately enjoyable, Det Gamle Riket is outright bad. Here Windir abandon their former confusion and fully embrace their true selves - simpletons making bouncy cartoon music that metalheads can still enjoy because, hey, it's got guitar distortion and blastbeats.
The first demo was kind of dumb, by all means, but only kind of. It was casual, laid-back, simple, but it was not horrible. You could put it on, wash the dishes, do homework, and not be bothered by it. It was easy listening music(why anyone would want to make easy listening black metal beats me). This, however, is just crap. If the awkward melodic changes and completely illogical phrasal transitions don't grab your attention, the disparity of the REALLY HIGH notes being combined with REALLY LOW notes into a single riff definitely will, and the way these form into annoyingly sugary melodies will keep your attention from being diverted to anything more worthwhile - which is to say, anything at all.
Fans of Windir will enjoy this to a degree, but the three tracks that best exemplify why people like Windir would go on to be replicated in a "better" form on the first LP anyway. Like the first demo, this one is thereby rendered pointless. Well, by that and by the fact it's just crappy music. Avoid. All that can be said in its favor is that at least Windir realized what their true intentions were, preventing them from the common metal band fate of releasing a copious amount of halfway-decent material that always gains some dedicated fans simply because it doesn't suck outright. Thanks for sucking outright, Windir - metal thanks you(with a freezing, drunken death).