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Valfar’s first demo, ''Sogneriket'', is a very interesting release. Not only does it showcase the early stages of the legendary Windir, it also contains a vast variety of different styles.
One song that stands out quite a bit, is ''Krigaren sin Gravferd''. This track sounds very Burzum inspired, and the main riff sounds quite similar to the ending of Burzum's ''Spell of Destruction''. The next song, however, comes as quite surprising, as it almost sounds Green Day inspired rock, with a quite clear guitar tone and clean vocals throughout the entire song. And what's next? A melodic and symphonic, yet very heavy black metal song. The rest of the album follow a somewhat similar pattern, however the rest is instrumental (except for a few couple of screams here and there).
''Sogneriket'' is quite a journey, due to this variety of styles, however the one thing they all have in common, is that they all have, though slight at times, a viking/folk vibe to them. The song structure is also quite varying, however they usually follow one of two possibilities: Use of repetition, having very few riffs at all, or they have an abundance of riffs and are very progressive. Valfar, however, nails both of these methods, as I at no point felt the need to skip tracks due to boredom.
The bad production is almost impossible to ignore, and to the more casual metal listeners, it would probably ruin the entire experience, though annoying elitists such as myself find no problem with the production. It sounds almost as if this was recorded in a snow storm, as the sound is quite all over the place. Additionally, the production sounds somewhat compressed, however considering that this was a cheaply made demo from 1994, bad quality is to be expected, and it is by no means hard to make out what's played (for me at least)
I enjoy the vocals on this demo a lot, and they sound as good, or even a little bit better, than the vocals Valfar would deliver on later studio albums. They sound like a mix between Pest (Under the Signs of Hell era Pest) and pre-prison Varg Vikernes. And if that doesn't tell you to much; they sound very aggressive, and almost a bit tortured at parts.
One thing that can be quite bothersome is the fact that the instruments don't always line up; they can sound a bit out of time, especially the drums. This isn't to hard to ignore for the most parts, however on ''Dans på Stemmehaugen'', it becomes a bit annoying. This sounds more like a technical error than a performance error, so it is forgivable. It is also clear that Valfar is in the early stages of songwriting, and this most noticable in the synth. They don't really add anything, and they just kinda play what the guitar plays. But apart from this, there isn't too much bad to be said.
I would recommend ''Sogneriket'' to fans of Windir, however I probably wouldn't recommend it to those unfamiliar with Windir and viking metal in general. I would say that ''Sogneriket'' is to Windir what ''Wrath of the Tyrant'' is to Emperor.
Windir's first demo displays their desire to be a viking metal band... And... that's about it.
Although they would later go on to contaminate black metal with some of the most ridiculous musical passages attempted in that genre, here Windir is both more unsure and more restrained. Opening with a Burzum-style track that is by no means unlistenable, even if it is pretty boring, we then get... Well, "Immortality" can really only be called soft rock. Sure, it's got the instrumentation of black metal, and it's made by a (purported) black metal band, but in the end its simple chord progressions and maudlin mood make for a drudgingly dull piece of music so irrelevant it may as well have never existed at all.
Unfortunately, this never really lets up. Nothing on here is bad outright, but nothing is particularly good either. It's all very mediocre; worse than that, it's repetitively mediocre. Two or three melodies get reused in various forms throughout the album, most obviously in the last two tracks which are almost the same song compositionally. Whereas this technique has been used by numerous other bands to excellent, Windir makes it starkly clear that they simply do not understand WHY doing this can be excellent - and simply replicate the surface aspects of the process.
Although not a horrible release, this one is a bit doomed. Any deep listeners will immediately recognize Windir's LPs as terrible, and probably avoid anything else by them - whereas people who do like their metal to sound like Final Fantasy soundtracks will love those LPs but find this demo only remotely interesting since it is closer to being good. If you want to be convinced Windir wasn't always awful, listen to this... if you want... and you have nothing better to do. Or if you're feeling sorry for yourself. Either the droning sloppiness will match your mood, or it will bring you into higher spirits once you realize - hey, I have better music than this already!
I have been looking for this demo quite a long time now, and I was surprised to find out that it was so hard to get, even the bootleg version is hard to get.
Finally I found it and I was shocked to hear how good it is. The songs here where written and recorded by Terje Bakken when was only between 13 and 16 years old. And you can hear that he had talent already here.
Also on most songs the quality is not as bad as I thought. Although many of the themes, riffs and melodies from Soge II (later released on Valfar, Ein Windir) are repeated her, the tracks still varies enough to keep the demo quite interesting despite it’s length on almost 45 minutes. Many of the songs are instrumental and quite hypnotizing.
The first track is Krigaren si gravferd, witch most of you that are likely to read this already have heard on the Valfar, Ein Windir double cd. This is quite a mean song, and probably the rawest track on this demo.
The next track is Immortality, that contains no harsh vocal, but allot of clean vocals. A kind of sad, yet beautiful song.
Sogneriket is the name of track number three. This is quite a black metalish song with some nice and catchy melodies and riffs.
After Sogneriket comes a beautiful instrumental song called Norron Seier. This contains in my opinion many of the elements that make Windir so great.
Next track is Dans på Stemmehaugen. This song also exists on Valfar, Ein Windir. But that version is a rerecording without Valfar. But this is the original version, and its much rawer and, in my opinion, better.
Next song is yet another instrumental called Fjell og Dalar (mountains and valleys). This is a keyboard based song. Really hypnotizing and beautiful.
Final tracks are Soge I and II. Soge I is quite similar to Soge II, only with harder guitars. The Soge II here is much longer than the version on Valfar, Ein Windir. But its much of the same.
All in all this is a great demo. Maybe a bit to long, and maybe a bit to many instrumentals(5). Its really difficult to find. So if you find it, don’t hesitate to buy it!!!!!!!!