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Varg Vikernes once said something along the lines of “If you don’t have anything new or unique to contribute to black metal, then don’t make black metal music”. I whole heartedly agree with this opinion. The black metal scene is plagued with tons of bands that are just clones of others, or blatant copies, or just plain garbage. After Varg’s words of wisdom have been spoken, it is a blessing to stumble upon the Finnish black metal band Wyrd. Wyrd is perhaps one of the most unique and different black metal bands making music today. Combining elements of folk with black metal and with a heavy concentration on progression and rhythm. Wyrd earns a spot as one of the best black metal bands out there and is worth almost every black metal fans attention.
Narqath ( who does all the instruments and vocals in Wyrd, a one man band) arranges his songs in a unique way, that rewards listeners who listen to the songs from start to end closely. Many songs will start off slow and melodic with a slow guitar and drum beat setting up the atmosphere. The intro to The Wicker Man shows off a slow plucking guitar with melodic drums at a very slow place, then the song blasts the listener with a dirty guitar riff and harsh vocals that create great rhythm and atmosphere. Another great melodic and atmospheric intro that leads into a great ending is the beginning of Cold Sun Of The Wind. This song progresses slowly with a combination of clean vocals leading into harsher ones towards the middle of the song. The slow clean guitar and drum beat create an isolated, desolate, and depressing (in a good way) environment/atmosphere. The atmosphere created here works very well building up a strong ending, it allows for a long and slow progression into some folk inspired keyboards accompanied with harsh and emotional vocals that are echoed to add power. Cold Sun Of The Wind’s ending also showcases something this album does very well, and that’s rhythm. Something this album has a lot of is rhythm. The Wicker Man and Ghost Of Winter are some of the catchiest songs I have heard due to their progression and rhythm. The songs have great flow and arrangements. The best example of flowing song structure and rhythm of Vargtimmen Pt. II is on Ominous Insomnia. After a melodic intro Ominous Insomnia belts out a rolling and flowing guitar riff that is accompanied with matching harsh vocals. This riffs is one of the more memorable moments of the album.
A few moments on this album had me struggling for its attention. The Wicker man is about 5 minutes to long, and although this albums strong point is slow progression and rhythm created through atmospheric repetition, The Wicker Man just because to repetitive. There is only so much I can take of an eight second guitar loop with small variations. This song would be flawless if a few two to three minute sections were taken out. Another similar problem is that the cold sun slept below takes a bit to long to progress and gain its power that it has at the end of the song which makes it so memorable. Fortunately, this problem is not as disastrous as the one found in The Wicker Man. Aside from these few small problems, none of the songs become unlistenable to, nor do they hurt the album as a whole.
Not all songs fit the mold exactly as I described, most noticeably is Ghost Of Winter and The Pale and The Dead. These songs start off more or less just like all other black metal songs. Fast and aggressive riffs, pounding drums, and screeching harsh vocals. But they soon work their ways into the unique style of Wyrd making them some of the better tracks on the album.
Overall this is a slow paced album aside from The Pale And The Dead, and Ghost Of Winter.
Its certainly unique and different. The only band I can think of that comes close to sounding like Wyrd is Xasthur, but that’s is only in tempo and atmosphere, otherwise they are quiet different.
If your into bands like Xasthur, Enslaved, or Finntroll, I believe you will enjoy this album greatly. I do not recommend this album to fans of aggressive and grim black metal like Immortal, Krieg, Kult Ov Azazel, and Judas Iscariot. Aside from the two problems I mentioned before this album is amazing. I give it lots of credit for its originality as compared with other bands and as well as with Wyrd’s other albums.
Given how impressed I was with Vargtimmen pt. 1, I was uneasy about part 2. Fears of disappointment led me to hope for more of the same. I didn't get more of the same, but neither was I disappointed.
Vargtimmen pt. 2 begins with The Wicker Man, which is unlike anything that appeared on Vargtimmen pt. 1. It's slower, doomier, and shows more of a death influence. I wasn't sure how much I liked it at first, but now I consider it a highlight. Fans of previous albums need not worry though, The Pale And The Dead resumes the faster, depressive vibe.
All in all though, there is more variety to be found on this album, such as a couple of instrumentals, and another slow, plodding piece Cold, Son Of The Wind. Narqath's clean singing has improved, and gotten clearer. Additionally, the lyrics are based more on hatred rather than nature-worship, although that theme shows up on a few songs. The production is much the same as the last, though I think the guitars have gotten crunchier.
In sum, this is another spellbinding album from Wyrd. Songs like Ominous Insomnia and Ghost of Winter continue the style of previous albums while the aforementioned The Wicker Man shows a willingness to experiment a little. Special mention should also be made of the closing instrumental Deception, which is one of the best I've heard. Highly recommended.