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Pretty good Viking metal with some minor flaws. - 86%

SvalbardDave, February 3rd, 2008

Originally I was not going to give this a good review for one chief reason: it's needlessly idiotic the way Valfar shouts, "Yeeeeehaa!" in a number of the songs, like it's some sort of fucking barefoot knee-slapping hoedown. I tend to grimace at the suggestion of any Americanization within Viking or otherwise Scandinavian metal. This, on the other hand, just made me wince like my balls were getting stepped on! Fortunately, it is only a temporary musical backslide, and in the long run, is darkly overshadowed by the proficiency and majesty of the rest of the melodies.

That having been said, the music on this recording is dominant and powerful, with some moments of traditional power metal, but much greater is the dominance of the majesty of Nordic black metal and Viking themes. The instrumentation is varied, also incorporating several vocal styles: Valfar's death vocals are excellently rendered, his clean vocals are sufficiently in tune, and there are also female guest vocals amply applied throughout the album. Keyboards are used as well, mostly enhancing the mystical feel overall, but in a few places sound smothered and poorly mixed, such as in "Sognariket Sine Krigarar" and "Mørket Sin Fyrste", sounding like a mono post-record gone wrong. After that, the drums are fairly well-mixed, sounding crisp, so it shows off the precision, but not overpowering, so as to cut off the guitar work, from where that great black metal sound comes.

One of the melodic highlights of this album comes from "Sognariket si Herskarinne", featuring very majestic guitarwork, both in the black metal style and from acoustic guitar. One drawback here is that during the black metal passages, the bass guitar is mixed rather strongly, but since the bass guitar is playing the tonic in this key, it fortunately doesn't take too much away from the overall melody. Still, it could've been mixed lower without harming the composition of the tune.

The work is very consistent among all of the tunes and shows Valfar to be a very competent musician with a lot of potential. The production overall is not too bad; it's more or less on par with what you'd expect from a low-budget project. This is by no means intended to be a slur against black metal; meaning quite the opposite, a lot of talent is found there. The Head Not Found label has a real bright spot on their reputation for having released this album.