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THE ALBUM BEFOR STORMBLAST... - 40%

prometeus, November 23rd, 2015

Who actually listens to it? The band doesn't - in 2011, Shagrath pointed out diplomatically that it would have been difficult to play it if the polls made before the whole EDT nostalgia, so there are at least a few fans who want this album to be heard at concert. Of course, who would want to see the current vocalist struggling behind the kit, without hoping he would pull it off somehow?! Because here, he really didn't!

I have a problem starting this review due to the presence of so many issues that plague this album - be it the drumming, the musicianship or even its existence. In 1994, Fimbulwinter just ended its existence (or was about to, if we take into account the compositional period), Old Man's Child had barely managed to release a demo after many years and one has to wonder what the hell had happened in Shagrath et co. minds when they decided to switch instruments???? Tjodalv was a tight player even then, if somewhat sloppy and forgetting in a live setting and its percussionist predecessor from Dimmu was a competent and active guitarist of a more than decent band. Here, the drums are almost improvised, much like the riffs, and everything sounds like a compilation of ideas thrown in so as to move on with the real "album" to be released. Remember that Stormblast was in the process of making since august 1993!

Now, if we can deal with the obviously immature and damaging decision made by the band, let's see what kind of mess we have to tolerate. The first half of the album has an instrumental track with the future Stormblast line-up and it's as tight as it needs to be, the opener it's an atmospheric bit, with only spoken passages and a piano, while the remainder are an attempt at black metal (Under Korpens Vinger), a terrible clean vocals dominated track (Over Blackende...) and a short fast paced blaster (Stien), somewhat similar to Avmaktslave. Five tracks, five styles, two drummers and three vocalists, with the same number of guitarists?! Talk about coherence! Silenoz can barely scream at this point, letting Vicotnik do it, Aldrahn tries to sing but sounds awful (I read that this take was the least offensive one), Shagrath's best instrumental skills are on the instrumental (track five - the best one yet), where he plays the fucking guitar, and the exact same goes for Tjodalv, who is clearly more competent on the skins.

If you haven't given up yet, than the second half would somewhat reward you, underlining that not everything is shit. In fact, the title track it's quite relaxing, if not a little frustrating to listen, due to the out of place vocal style. Seriously, who thought that Silenoz was the better vocalist, should shoot himself! His almost whispering vocals suck! Of course, they are good in some moments, in some tracks, but fuck, they are undeveloped and brainless! At least Shagrath has an idea of where to change the styles... The remaining tracks are more diverse riff wise, but plagued by the same problems.

Also, by the time of the title track, Tjodalv's guitar playing gets boring as hell, with the clean passages being more frequent. Things will not change to much by the album's end, and Silenoz didn't do much either on the compositional level. There are too many power chords, repetitive directionless tremolo riffs, and folk influences that don't do much for the album's identity. Only the idea of the band's decision to re-record some tracks and play those versions live AND only IF they want to, gives an impression of shame that this album even exists, and their sub-mediocrity was so obvious it must burn their egos.

The only issue I haven't reached by now is the keyboards. Stian Aarstad is so overrated, since everybody thinks that if he plays some notes, it must mean he actually composed them. Now, there are liner notes, and the thing is, he barely composed anything during his stint with the Borgir clan. Even so, the compositions are simple, repetitive, good for the atmosphere, and redeem the album somewhat. The only member who plays the most decent parts didn't write shit...

In the end, what remains after this listening experience? I rarely give it a chance, and it's only during my phase of crappy and inoffensive music, with only a hint of aggression. Some tracks are best in their re-recorded form (tracks 7&8), while the instrumental is still one of the best, since it's played by the more natural line-up, the Stormblast one, giving us a taste of what's to come. Because this album's purpose seems to be just that - the album before Stormblast...