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Fantastic folk metal - 91%

SvalbardDave, January 16th, 2008

I am really glad I bought this CD, Hin Vordende Sod & Sø. I'd been curious about it for a while beforehand. I was not disappointed in the least. I'd been on the hunt for all kinds of folk metal, viking metal and otherwise Scandinavian-flavored blackness. That having been said, here's what I find in this album.

Right from the first track, Af Helvegum, you get hit with a mixing of styles, sometimes homogenous, where it sounds Norwegian and folky but also incorporates elements of traditional western-European power metal and America's trademark modern extreme metal, with bass-vocal growls and downtuned guitar distortion. Sometimes it's more heterogeneous, where the aforementioned styles really are separate unto themselves within the songs. A good example of this is the second track, "Bruderov Paa Hægstadtun", where the power metal starts it out, but then you're switched to a black/folk style for the choruses, and back again.

The band's technical proficiency is also shown in the fact that they change time signatures with ease and fluidity, like in "Over Ægirs Vidstragte Sletter", where they almost effortlessly switch from the standard black metal 6/8 time to common time for the bridge halfway through the song.

Another area in which they show massive amounts of talent is that of vocal styles. Their sense of vocal harmony is virtually unparalleled in metal. The opening to "Over Ægirs Vidstragte Sletter" is literally flawless in terms of vowel matching and tone. They really hit those chords right on the head! They also show no fear in the diversity of chords they use in their vocals. In this song you'll catch lots of open seventh chords using different inversions in what's sometimes called "Chinese sevenths", where you'll have the top two notes in the chord arranged in seconds. In addition, throughout the album, they switch through many different metal vocal styles: the Nordic style of death scream, the American style of bass growls and "clean" vocals. As if this weren't enough, they'll also issue some strange vocal shouts as delivery effects.

Check out "Slit Livets Baand", a majorly epic symphonic prelude with some avant-garde weirdness to it. Haunting strings are backed by the sound effect of a baby crying. The theme continues to the end of "Efterbyrden". Weird.

I'm giving this album a 91, because in my opinion, their use of American styles somewhat take away, rather than enhance, the listening experience of a Norwegian folk/black metal album. All in all, they are very high on talent and vision, and we can expect to hear more great music from this band in the future. Incidentally, if you really liked this, you will really like Drottnar's Anamorphosis.