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Black Metal Bliss. - 95%

Perplexed_Sjel, September 17th, 2008

Previous to the official release of ‘Gråtoner’, there were three tracks floating around the underground which claimed to be the material that was going to be present on this particular EP. However, it was only until a later date that we, the audience, learned that the material floating around was merely rehearsal ideas for the penultimate two tracks that have officially found there way on to the ‘Gråtoner’ piece and have truly transformed this in to one of the ultimate depressive black metal must-listens of the century. Undeniably, the rehearsal which managed to find there way out into the world were good, but these two much improved tracks make this official version of ‘Gråtoner’ a stunning hit which is almost flawless in it’s approach to the world of DSBM.

Hypothermia, a Swedish one man act, are by now a well established band due to the hard work and persistence of the front man, Kim Carlsson, who has produced some of the better and more influential depressive black metal material since the day the Earth discovered acts like Burzum, Forgotten Woods and Strid. In a sub-genre riddled with plagiarised forms of the scene of yesteryear and various other below par ‘performers’ who contribute nothing to the sound of this sometimes unbearable scene, other than bad press of course, Hypothermia continue to claw to the surface, pinpointing at each turn why it was that we tuned in to depressive black metal to begin with. ‘Gråtoner’ is, bar perhaps ‘Köld’, the most outstanding piece that Carlsson has managed to muster up from his dark and depressed soul.

The epitome of this EP is dank, dark and eerie. If it were not, it would not have been so well produced and structure. This EP offers us, the audience, a semblance of depression in the form of two very well established songs that consist of the highest song writing. The central talking point to this EP is, undoubtedly, the way it can conjure beauty from the bleakest of soundscapes. The progressionist nature of the songs, particularly in terms of the performance on lead guitar, is outstanding. Carlsson, by now, is an established musician of the highest order and understand what it takes to make a good depressive black metal offering, which is what this is. The musicianship, like the song writing and structure to the songs, is fabulous. The way in which Carlsson manages to almost flawlessly layer the distinctive sounds of dark depression conjure similar emotions within the listener, which makes this effort more appealing in the long run, due to the long nature of the songs on offer.

The emotional beauty of this EP is second to only ‘Köld’ which, in a similar fashion, managed to create a reflective piece of art. The focal point, as always, is the guitars. The essence of this dangerous and darkly submissive beast is in the guitars. The melodic nature of the soundscapes is oddly intriguing. Depressive black metal usually relies on heavy amounts of distortion to depict it’s themes, but ‘Gråtoner’ does not. The guitars are mostly clean, depicting the lyrical themes through an exciting and fresh sound which this much ridiculed sub-genre isn’t used to. The vocals, which do consist of typical Kim-esque rasps are sparse, but powerful. The infrequent use of vocals enhances the entrancing melodies which the clean guitars, whilst conjure nothing but sombre images, are the central focus of. Carlsson’s ability to be able to fuse distorted vocals with clean guitars and often other clean instrumentation is fantastic.

‘Gråtoner’ uses a method of clean instrumentation for long periods, inspired percussion which often drives forward the bleak and despairing soundscapes and his typically epic use of traditional depressive black metal vocals. Whilst, of course, there is distortion applied to the guitars on occasions, it’s the clean instrumentation that really drives the saddened feel to the music. The rather clichéd aggressive patterns are then, in turn, taken by the hand of the distortion which takes full control in exceeding the expectations of the impartial audience. The feature of double bass, which dominates much of black metal’s records, isn’t as dominant on this piece. As aforementioned, the elements of instrumentation on this record are submissive, which gives the impression that they are distant and withdrawn, but never in an emotional context, which offers a new look into a decaying sub-genre. Highly recommended.