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The Grimest Black Metal - 90%

antipath, February 25th, 2008

I could have sworn that I wrote a review of this already, but if I did, its gone. No matter, I just have another chance to express the utter perfection of this record. The word "grim" is thrown around the black metal scene so much these days that it has become virtually meaningless. Any time a band uses the words "forest, winter, snow, wood, or cold" its grim. Not true. The book on grimness was written by Darkthrone back in 1991, and today's plagerists seem only to read the summaries. Kronet Til Konge works because it never goes over the top, nor does it hide behind minimalism. And the cast could not have been better for the task at hand, for creating what I consider to be the last "true" black metal album of the 1990s.

The first thing one notices is the thin production, which was standard for the time, and should be ignored completely by the seasoned listener. Next we see the line up, which was very strange, almost paradoxical. Fenriz, the most minimalistic drummer in metal history is now a bass player.... and the bass is good! Its ever present, and compliments the guitar rather than following it or being burried under it. The drums, handled by Vicotnik, are fairly simple, minimalistic most of the time, but constantly ferocious, and never trying to be the focus of the overall sound. Its odd because Vicotnik would go on to become the lead guitarist of the band, and though the drums are adequate, one does see that he is not a natural drummer. Aldrahn rounds out the group as guitarist and vocalist, a dual role he would only take once, on this record alone, as some would say, he gives one of the most memorable vocal performances of all time.

Let us examine the musical qualities of this record, which I hold as probably my favorite Black Metal CD of all time. Many might not agree with me on this, but from a man who has the entire catalogues from Emperor, Satyricon, Dimmu Borgir, Windir, Abigor, Wyrd, Burzum, Darkthrone, Old Man's Child, Judas Iscariot,and Graveland... not to mention about 300 other random black metal CDs, from old Manes records, to the likes of Drudkh and Sorhin, that is a bold statement. I admit, I am attempting to establish my black metal credentials, but to me, one is at a loss to find major fault with this first Dodheimsgard effort. The riffs do not fly off the rails at any point into the "melodic black metal" realm, which is a breath of fresh air. There is always a dark and claustrophobic feel to the riffs, and yet, moments break through where one feels as if the night sky is completely open to him, and he is gazing through dense trees at an eternal sea of stars. There is no more "alone" feeling records, even among funeral doom as this one. Never is there a moment when you feel any sense of other souls. Even when the lyrics describe hordes, which I will explain further on. The speed changes, but not frequently. Most of the time it is a mid to upper tempo exploration, sometimes becoming break neck fast, and sometimes becoming lethargically slow. This is in no way a bad thing, as the speed of the music always stays in keeping with the mood of the song, It is difficult to describe this record in parts, because one has to listen to it as a whole.....

Perhaps the most powerful element of Kronet Til Konge is the vocals. The listener notices the voice right away, and it is the voice that stays with you. The voice is what invokes the emotions of this record, in perfect concert with the other elements. Most of the songs are "sung" in Norwegian, only 3 have english lyrics, and to be honest, the songs which are most effective are those in their native tongue. What astonishes me most is that the english lyrics are very perplexing, and demonstrate a great understanding of metaphor and symbolism. I would say that Aldrahn managed to write lyrics that were far deeper, and more thought provoking, than about 90 percent of what comes out of any music that is created in English by native English speakers (one needs but to look at the desecration of my language by R&B, Rap, and Nu-Metal "musicians" in my homeland of the USA to see this). I can not understand the Norse lyrics on this record, and yet, I feel what they are saying. Aldrahn gives one of the best performances in Metal history on this record, and certainly one of the most original. The only thing close to him would be De Mysterium Dom Sathanas era Attila Cshar, or maybe Apocalypse era Abigor. Either way, he stole the show here, just as he did on the infamous Zyklon B Ep "Blood Must Be Shed," which also ranks high with me in black metal fame. The delivery of vocals is sorrowful and yet triumphant. Few vocalists can pull this off, sounding all at once victorious, and yet defeated. One song "Mournful, Yet and Forever" is the perfect example of this. The listener feels the total solitude of life, and yet the lyrics sound like the reminisces of an old soldier who remembers the days of his glory, but lives in a time of deprivation and loss. And yet you feel like you are him, and some how, your victory is the very cause of your solitude and sorrow. Even the sorrowful elements lend strenght, as aloneness is never expressed as pain, but as as strength. "Starcaves, Depths and Chained" has perhaps the best line in all black metal history, with the final verse "Buried in a blood red doom. No end shall find the key, to set them free and relieve their burdens. Nothing is to be forgiven." Indeed, one can let that vengeance course through their being... the idea that all punishments are deserved and eternal. It is utterly beautiful in its grimness.

Why this record never appears in any one's "Best Black Metal" list is beyond me. Every time I listen to this, I feel as if I could run through the forest at night alone, drapped in a wolf's hide, and run the risk of turning into one. The line up was top notch, and subsequent records from this band would be a steady curve of failures and disappointments. It was as if they broke the mold, and then gradually crashed into the ground, as we can see with their current incarnation as "DHG." Find this, buy it, or download it, and play it when you are most alone, or when you can gaze out over an old treeline at the moon. If you take on thing away from it, it is that solitude is noble, and gives you strength.

Great Debut - 94%

adastra318, December 11th, 2005

Dodheimsgard is one of those bands I never really got into, despite their influence and reputation. However, I must say this release greatly has altered that thought. I'm usually not a fan of the harsher, rawer form of Black Metal, but alas I enjoy some Darkthrone, Beherit, Zyklon-B, etc. This band is now another to add to that list. I hate when bands from this genre just try and smother you with bass and bad feedback, just to be "True" or "Cult". Dodheimsgard, apart from that vast majority, actually gets it right here. They offer us neither the same song over and over, and they put out some memorable melody sections.

The intro is slightly cheesy, with its incantations and mantras, but it sets a nice dark tone for the album. Through the next few tracks I lose myself in its excellence. I love when the vocals are sung in a language other than English; it gives such a fresh feeling. En Krig a Seire is easily my favorite track on the album, but why for me that reason is still unknown. Dodheimsgard also mix in a few songs in English however, but manage to enhance the quality of the CD rather than destroy it. It adds a certain depth to the CD, and also a certain versatility to bands name, which is most of the time a good quality to have. They hit the nail on the head for their first full-length, and have kept the tradition of great music alive through other albums as well. Great debut, great sound, and they would eventually also go on to greater things. After listening to this album, I immediately went back to listen to 666 International and wondered, “why the fuck didn’t I love this before?” I guess sometimes it takes knowing where a band came from to get what they are really all about.

I highly suggest buying this if you happen to come across this album

More high quality black metal - 85%

head_flat, May 2nd, 2005

Another underrated black metal release, here Dodheimsgard produce a classic mid 90s black metal sound with all of the trademark ingredients - simple melodic black metal riffery, slow rock beats and blast in 3/4 and heavily reverbed vocals. Bass playing however is a stand out, with one of the warmest and tolerably distorted bass sounds on a black metal release - although at times it sounds not distorted at all - there could possibly even be a chorus effect on bass. Occasionally the bass playing will make use of it's dominant sound and branch out to direct the riff with it's own line seperate to the guitars which at times become an ambient buzz. The clean guitar work sounds precarious, but never to the point of distracting from the music. The typical vocal shriek found in this music is replaced with an aggressive yell not found in too many black metal releases. All lyrics are in Norwegian but the vocal delivery is executed in a purposeful manner which becomes translatable as an effect to accompany the music. I wasn't as impressed with anything I've heard the band do since this album, I believe they are one of those bad electronic outfits now. DHG?? Sigh...