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A Demented, Surrealist Masterwork - 90%

C333, August 29th, 2019
Written based on this version: 1999, CD, Moonfog Productions

By examining the artwork alone, the impressions are of something outlandish, industrial, vicious, dark, cold and grand, with the striking, prominent reflection on the floor and blood escaping through the drain hinting at something otherworldly and perhaps also vaguely supernatural. As it turns out, though, this is a microscopic hint of what can be found in the actual music.

Instantly, as the play button is pressed, we are faced with a couple of seconds of a heavy, corporate-sounding, clinical, climbing piano melody before it gets drowned in abrasive, sharp guitar riffs like a transmitted radio message being "interfered" with. The bass creeps in and out as an aural shadow, strange, shrill, alienesque wails suddenly float in from the distance and the fuzz from the guitars attacks the melody as it pushes through until all are abruptly halted, creating a jarring and nerve-shredding sense of uncertainty. The sci-fi alien wails become isolated and continue, only to vanish into the ghostly space filled with nothing else but faint, electronic tapping. A groovy, mysterious, trippy, Indian-sounding techno soundscape springs up out of the blue like a malicious jack in the box, and we are then introduced to Aldrahn in the form of a haunting, tortured, lost, desperate and awe-struck spokesman spouting disconnected and cryptic lines about depression, insight and a planned journey of self-realization by letting darkness into the heart. Of course this doesn't last long, as the music and vocals degenerate into ever-more aggressive, savagely playful and insane chaos, with lots of random shifts in genre and mood striking you when you least expect it. This persists throughout the rest of the album, and the only rest we get as listeners consist of a few eerily empty, melancholy, menacing jazz-piano tracks between the lunacy.

As far as the content of the album is concerned, first two tracks are in all honesty pretty similar to each other in terms of "setting", although the latter is a lot faster, weirder and more rage-filled, with more emphasis on the riffs than synths as a whole, although some exceedingly creepy paranormal sound effects slither in and out of each ear from time to time. At this stage, we get the implication that this is a concept album of sorts, about an ultimate goal of self-enlightenment and the transcendence of normal human limits by passing through the underworld and embracing the darkness and terror of the subconscious mind.

Thankfully, by the time the first piano piece begins, our equilibrium is calmed a bit, but we cannot be at ease, as there is something not so pleasant brewing in the background, and by that, I mean a terrifying ten-minute, genre-jumping, paranoid trippy epic that is both extremely synth and riff-heavy, not to mention impressive in its complexity and technicality. We now know that this aforementioned journey involves killing the ego, and the darkness invading the "kingdom of light" that comes with it (hence the track's title, 'Regno Potiri' is Latin for 'Seizing the Kingdom').

The following track is more synth-heavy, linear and fast-paced, with a modern fairytale vibe to it. Psychedelic and dreamy, it describes the thirst for total self-control and total power, without any beliefs of deities or celestial figures getting in the way of the process. After another discreetly unwholesome piano piece, we are met with the next epic which retains the dreamy and ethereal atmosphere of the last full track. It is also as chaotic and paranoid, but much less angry and surprisingly quite optimistic sounding, as the "storyteller" describes soaring into, then higher than the Heavens to reach the essence that the opponents aren't able to with their set limits, all theoretically speaking. Again, the genres range from electro, to techno, to psychedelia, to black metal with even a little touch of death metal. At long last, we find ourselves at the final piano piece. This one is, instead of following the same gloomy and spooky formula as the rest, is joyful, positive, mysterious and even weirdly beautiful. The wide reverb added gives us a mental picture of an enchanted hall where someone is practicing their newly-acquired alchemy with confidence.

A noisy, cocky and spacey track about having reached the ultimate personal goal follows to finish the madness, with the usual genre-hopping and plenty of visual tangents being veered off onto. The darkness has been some sort of spiritual guide for the "storyteller", and they soar to the Sun upon the climax. Good fun, rich in cool synths and effects, but this is the track in particular where I feel as if the riffs are not as potent and maybe a little boring. They are saved by the fuzz they create as it adds to the atmosphere once again, though. If one were to wait through several tracks of silence, a secret track can be accessed. This was supposed to be the second part to the last official one, but it was cut as the tempo and atmosphere are totally different. Essentially a final summary, it is joyful, very, very bass-heavy and groovy, like psychedelic rock of the 70s, and acts as a nice spectral aftermath to all of the chaos.

Overall, this album is as huge in scope as a film soundtrack or orchestra and highly complex musically, especially in terms of the synths and guitar riffs, but the aggression, rage, weirdness, techno influence, constant switching of genres, piercing low-fi fuzz and less-than-clear production makes it rather difficult for those who are not used to extreme metal, or who have a more straightforward mindset, to access. The lyrical themes are unfathomably strange and scary at times, but on the whole, the message is inspirational, albeit very personal and abstract, so it may only be helpful for or resonate emotionally with some, but it is nevertheless thought-provoking, daring, intelligent and unique. If you are reading this and are wanting something to dip your head into to pass time, are hungry for something dark, totally different and think you can stomach it, I highly recommend this album. Never again will something like this be made.

Moonfog Records Presents: AIDS - 0%

bitterman, July 21st, 2014

Looking at the band picture to this album should say it all. Too much Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and Skinny Puppy have influenced this once quasi-generic band to become "avant-garde". Of course, this means "sounds like shit". Samples, programmed drums (at times), and annoying vocal processing all contribute to the debauched character of this release (most of it sounds like Youth Fair/Video Game music). Then you throw in the fact that song structure is non-existent alongside the easily made out lyrics that read like gibberish (lines about "crowns and crocodiles" and "am I not your superhero" make cringe worthy appearances) and this easily becomes the worst thing Moonfog records have ever churned out.

Beginning with a song that goes from synth-laden pop-black (think Dimmu Borgir) to cleanly arpeggiated "Voivod chords" (like a more technical version of a Korn verse) to an "anthemic" AC/DC-esque "hey! hey!" stomping stadium rock riff sets the stage for how the remainder of this brain bleaching disaster will unfold. There are a few instrumental piano pieces scattered throughout the album, but mostly it's disingenuous "experimental" crap that sounds like leftover riffs from their previous album (those Thorns styled typical tremolo picked arpeggios found in most black metal) sandwiched between random samples, carnival noise synth/pedal effects, etc. Even a Machine Head styled wigger riff makes an out of place appearance ("Completion", track 9). The vocals at best sound like the shouts from the Zyklon-B album made more "shouty" like a nü-moo band. All in all, this album is a bunch of leftovers culled from various industrial rock, dance, and occasionally/allegedly "black metal" albums stitched together into no order of importance. Avoid at all costs. Vapid.

Dodheimsgard - 666 International - 70%

ConorFynes, July 5th, 2011

With their third album, the Norwegian black metal outfit Dodheimsgard vastly changed up their sound. Dabbling with experimentation on the 'Satanic Art' EP, the stage was set for the band to achieve a very distinct sound; one that would merge industrial music and orthodox black metal in a style that had never been heard before. In this case, '666 International' is certainly a historically relevant album in the development of black metal, but as a musical listening experience, it can be a bit of a bumpy ride. Now over a decade old, Dodheimsgard's work here still sounds as bizarre as it ever has, but as befalls most pioneers, their experimentation isn't a complete success all the way through. No matter though, because for what its worth, what does work for the band is absolutely incredible.

'Ion Storm' is a fine example of what '666 International' is about; entering with a shout, an industrial beat, and about as generic of a black metal riff as they come. Hearing black metal paired with other, seemingly alien sounds is a bit jarring at first, but by the end of the first track, there is a feeling that it is certainly more than a gimmick, although multiple listens are required for it to really sink in. This grand experiment between the harsh percussion of industrial music and black metal is broken up by a couple of jazzy piano pieces, which ironically turn out to be the best composed pieces of work on the whole album. While I am no stranger or detractor to metal or experimental metal, Dodheimsgard's piano pieces are so well done and beautifully arranged, that they are more enjoyable to listen to than the somewhat mixed impression that the avant-garde aspect gives. 'Carpet Bombing' is about as beautiful as jazz piano gets, and I would love to hear an entire album that sounds just like that.

Dodheimsgard's heavy aspects isn't as simple as merely pairing industrial and black metal; there are nuances here that really help the somewhat lacking flow. The band works some magic by throwing in Opeth-esque mellow breakdowns and sometimes even danceable electronica right next to crushing black metal riffs. The contrast is- once again- rather disconcerting for a first timer, but it is indeed excellent. The avant-garde parts sometimes use some electronic aspects that feel a little out of place (even taking to heart the experimental nature) but the only real weakness here are the vocals, which are often layered with strange phaser effects and mixed far too highly in the record. This can lead to the flimsy sprechzegang performance becoming irritating, especially due to the fact that it is almost working against the really interesting instrumental aspect of the album.

'666 International' must still be lauded for its great ambition, although it cannot be said that all of the aspects that Dodheimsgard works with here work entirely well. All the same, a very refreshing album, especially when put into its context.

"Into the pandemonium" goes 21st century? - 98%

Starkweather222000, April 4th, 2009

It seems to be going on forever, the endless struggle when an album like this is released. It seems to be a matter of fate for the metal audience, and for some works of art in general, to be appreciated many years after their initial release, just because they were this many years ahead of their time. The connection is simple-when Celtic Frost created "Into The Pandemonium", they shocked everyone. They experimented with instruments and influences and sounds that were just NOT 1987 metal music. Twenty tears after, female fronted atmospheric metal bands grow like mushrooms in the forest and, still, sell albums.

Now when Dodheimsgard released "666 International", they did the exact same thing-something that requires talent, fate and magic to achieve. DHG (forgive me the boredom) incorporated both industrial (not in the Ministry way, but in a rather Front 242 way) and techno elements in their black metal, around the same time black metal was going mainstream. And they did it so well that no one seemed to understand at the time. Only now, ten years after, black metal bands decide to go "Blade Runner" and be "intelligent" and "technocratic" and....pffff.

The truth about "666 International" is that it may actually be THE black metal album of all times. Because it shocks people, it terrifies people, and it is innovative in ways nobody -black metal or not- ever thought of. Being almost 2 decades old, I wonder if classic heavy metal fans did have the same stupid faces when listening to "A Blaze In The Northern Sky", back in the distant 1991. Because I've seen metallers, and even "open minded" metallers turn green with nausea just about the middle of "Shiva Interfere"-and surely I can't blame them for that. This album is just not your cup of tea, or at least not your everyday cup of tea. It requires some special conditions in order for you to appreciate its beauty, more like a good thriller or a Munch painting. It makes your heart beat like crazy, it fills you with fear, panic, paranoia-and leaves you wanting more in a masochistic manner you wouldn't believe. The voice of madness himself (Aldrahn) is probably already an asylum inhabitant, as I can't think of a mentally healthy person that would conceive such lyrics, or, even worse, express them vocally. The vocal performance in this album is NOT singing and you have to accept the fact in order to proceed.

So, you see, I just tried to avoid writing a normal review. It is useless to find influences and the like in here. If you still need a raw overview of the whole thing, you can imagine "Thorns" or even "Killing Technology", mixed with techno beats, hypnotizing rhythms and some piano interludes that just increase the feeling of the calm before the storm. Still, this description is really faulty. It's more like Prometheus and the fire given to mankind, the ticket for metal to move on through the ages. Even if metal music itself has yet to realize, "666 International" is one of the few albums responsible for the survival of this music into the future.

666 International - 90%

Thorned_Earth, April 21st, 2007

More experimental and less coherent than Thorns’ somewhat comparable self-titled 2000 release (to which Aldrahn also contributed vocals), 666 International is also one of a few worthwhile listens amongst an army of silly avant/electronic "metal" that rarely delivers, spewed forth by such loathsome groups as Manes. This is an album that was recorded in multiple sessions by a number of clashing artists with different ideas to contribute, which had an undeniable effect on the outcome. While some are turned away by the lack of cohesion and traditional songwriting structure, as well as the evident lack of “true and necro” posturing to which some still hold tightly, this album stands as a refreshing experiment in the outer realms of black metal and has become a classic to many for good reason.

Aldrahn is once again the mouthpiece for Dodheimsgard, having shuffled around various instrumental and vocal duties with Vicotnik throughout the band’s previous releases. His vocals here are far removed from the black metal croaks of the early albums, and even still from the vocals on the more recent Satanic Art. Aldrahn’s strange crooning is one of many aspects of 666 International that will have to be overcome in order for the more resistant black metal listener to enjoy the proceedings. Personally, I think he does an excellent job with the material and his performance is outstanding and diverse in a way that few, if any, vocalists could have pulled off this well. The extensive programming, sampling, and various electronics of the album form another of its distinctive features, as well as another of its great obstacles. Anyone looking for a spiritual successor to Kronet Til Konge is certainly in the wrong place, as the piano and electronics on this album take a prominent role throughout, and the traditional instruments are often just as out there. Even the drums have been processed through a computer and rendered almost unrecognizable from their original acoustic form, to such an extent that drummer Czral himself barely acknowledges playing on the album. Still, in the face of all this experimenting, the guitar remains the most outstanding element in the mix. Vicotnik unleashes a vast array of riffs that consistently make each song, without ever overplaying or smothering the rest of the band (the intro to Shiva Interfere notably excluded, as smothering seems to be the intent). Whereas most bands may struggle to produce one worthwhile or memorable section by which they might be remembered, 666 International features too many to mention, and every song twists and turns into several memorable and exceptional moments.

A wonderfully experimental work of unique style and atmosphere, 666 International invites both praise and disgust, and Vicotnik is one of the few witnesses to the second wave that continues to carry on in the spirit of that movement, which was not to make the same music everyone else is making and continue doing that forever, but rather to create something new and challenging, something that will evoke polar reactions from all who hear it.

yeah whatever - 57%

Cheeses_Priced, January 15th, 2006

This album is very silly in tone. It might have been meant to be so, but one can never be sure.

It's not quite as weird as you might assume. It's primarily guitar-driven, and it's pretty heavy, and the riffs are mostly a technical -- but dead-on -- parody of the Norse black metal (Thorns) style. The singer just sort of moans and yells, but that's been a staple of avant-garde black metal since Ved Buens Ende at least. The drums are programmed and there are some groovy, industrial-influenced parts, but none of them literally sound like what you'd hear on a real industrial rock/metal album, and there's no out-and-out dance music stuff. The piano parts are better than what you'd expect from a metal band. Yes, it's all very literate.

It's not really black metal, though, or even a very serious attempt to advance past black metal. It mostly resembles black metal, but that's superficial. The band's heart is elsewhere, throwing spitballs and paper airplanes while teacher's not looking, you might say. This is more willfully playful and goofy music than Arcturus or Mayhem's artsy binge.

Songwriting and structure are bourgeoisie concepts, so each time one idea is used up the band simply starts on another one without warning, in the manner favored by all open-minded and right-thinking appreciators of metal-as-art. Thus there are enjoyable riffs but no enjoyable songs.

If not for that, I could probably get on this band's side, if not become a true devotee. 666 International isn't disgustingly self-important and pretentious, and it's not stupid, but it doesn't seem to have much of a point, either.

How much of this paranoia can you take? - 95%

SyMpToM, March 19th, 2005

Useful piece of advice:Steer clear from this album if your motto is anything including the words "normal life","order" etc.A brilliant cresendo of disorder and chaos is what this album stands for.Circumspectly arranged madness,that has no demur to make your ears bleed if you are off your guard,music scores that must surely bear a strong resemblance to Picasso's paintings and completely non-sense lyrics that however seems to suit perfectly to this insanity's manifesto.Exaggerated description?Just put the CD in the tray,push the "play" button and start seeking shelter to your psycho medication to survive from this blast.From the very first moments DHG make clear that will not follow any of the known musical directions,challenging those who are keen on labeling bands to characterise them.Avant-prog?Black metal?Techno?Maybe a combination of all?Or something completely different?Come on,just notice the keyboard layers displacing the monstrously-distorted guitars at times,when the techno-influenced drum beats are making you fear about the life span of your sub-woofer.The "erotic" voice of Aldrahn adds the icing on the cake,not fearing to distort his voice sometimes to make the atmosphere even more paranoiac.From the first second to the last,the songs' structures keep progressing,once ascending in the sky and then straight down to hell,exploring yet uknown musical dimentions as grunging strange sounds in the background create a more complex atmosphere,and all of a sudden some strange yet beautiful piano interludes that add a tone of dispair to this mess.
Do yourself the favour to give a try to this musical anarchy...you'll surely love it!

Calculated chaos, schizophrenic to say the least… - 90%

toofargone, April 7th, 2004

I had recently heard that Dodheimsgard’s lead singer had been admitted to an asylum, so I decided to give his music a listen and a review. One thing’s for sure, this album is indeed insane.
Within the chaotic, schizophrenic mixture of distorted black metal guitars, strange piano passages, eerie sound bites, audible tricks and treats and techno beats is a well thought out formula of calculated chaos. At any given time you can’t be sure what’s going to hit you, a fast blast beat with layers upon layers of sound loops and samples, a techno based rhythmic groove, a key ridden guitar section or even a low-key piano solo. One song goes through more structures than most bands go through in a whole album. The non-monotonous song structures keep you guessing on what’s around the corner. One thing is for sure, each song is full of more rave influenced, dance reminiscent techno sections than you can point a neon stick at. But, don’t start to think that this isn’t a black metal album, because when the black metal element gets to work it’s obliterating. Through the ascending and descending spacey keyboards, strange sound effects and trance like beats, there’s actually some pretty heavy thrashing black metal to be found.
The drums are crushing (especially with the added rhythmic layers), the guitars are imposing and magnificent, and the vocals are hard, yet with a certain serenity to them at times – not to mention experimentation with distortion and chanting background vocals. The chaotic nature of the album even extends to the way songs introduce one another. At several times through out ‘666 International’ you get treated to interludes of beautiful piano solos, with feelings of sorrow and despair as oppose to the anarchy that reigns supreme throughout the rest of the album. After contradictions aplenty of blasting drum beats meeting slow grinding guitars, wailing vocals being succeeded by screaming howls of pain, soft passages being crushed by hard hitting blast beats you start to get used to the feel of this album’s chaotic beauty. But even then you’re dumbstruck with sections absent of any electronic meddling, which seems to serve a purpose of further fucking with your mental health. It’s almost as if it strikes you as strange that there isn’t any computer reminiscent sounds or keys that could be taken from a horror movie. But rest assured that all those aspects creep back into the music to yet again play mind games with the listener.
So, if you like being played with or simply like thinking man’s music, then you’ll be beating your brain to keep up with this excellent offering. But keep in mind that through this unbelievably confusing music, there is a fatal downfall, and that is the fact that at times it can be too schizophrenic for it’s own good. It has a tendency not to let musical ideas grow and progress, but rather hinders any possible development that could be achieved. But if that’s okay with you than, you’ll find many hours of enjoyment to be had right from the super-structured, intro track to the hidden ballad of track 66, ’666 International’. Not for those afraid of experimentation.

Also, if you like this, I strongly recommend that you check out Thorns.