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Decisive final statement from Ildjarn - 90%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 7th, 2007

This is a very fitting swansong release from one of Norway's most intense black metal acts and at 2 hours and 40 minutes it's also an exhausting tour of duty that's sure to separate the true believers of Ildjarn and black metal generally from those who think they're tr00 and kvlt! These discs cover the earliest works in Ildjarn's career including those from the period when Emperor man Samoth was part of the project.

Disc One contains demos for "Ildjarn 93" and "Minnesjord: The Dark Soil" plus six untitled and previously unreleased instrumental pieces. If you are not already familiar with Ildjarn's work, you should start with this disc to get a feel for the distinctive style of music: very raw, primitive minimalist black metal in which Ildjarn's hatred of and venom for humanity are tightly compressed. If you do know his work, and I would think this collection is aimed at his loyal followers, you might feel a bit annoyed at having to sit through 22 tracks that have been released previously and which don't offer anything radically different apart from a slightly different production for some tracks and some other minor details. (Thank God, oops, Satan, for CD players which allow you to select and mix random tracks at will!) Some tracks have additional vocals by that other Emperor man Ihsahn. No matter how much Ildjarn rages, the loathing, disgust and nihilism that come through the songs are controlled and the emotion never seems tiresome or overdone thanks to the very severe style of music. After these songs the six unnamed pieces come as a revelation: they are slower and looser, seem somewhat more neutral in mood (though they probably aim at creating a particular mood, one that is dark and sinister) and recall late 1970s punk / new wave. Track 28 is an interesting exercise in creating a very malevolent and creepy soundscape loop using mainly bass guitar and percussion.

But it's Disc Two (25 tracks) that offers the real glories of this collection, the music being more varied in style and structure. All tracks are arranged in four sections describing the transition from life to death and nothingness, and during this transition the realities of living and issues of faith, belief and existence must be examined and confronted. Section 1 consists of mostly instrumental rhythm pieces varying in piece and featuring chanting and screaming. More experimental and ambient pieces are to be found in Section 2 in which there is a track involving a distorted bass guitar made to sound like gravel being driven over and churned up by heavy machinery. Anger and hate are vented here as the entity undergoing the rite of passage realises that life is corrupt, brutal, full of pain and ultimately worthless. Section 3 features tracks that repeat what has gone in the previous two sections as if to reinforce the truths learned.

Section 4 has the most experimental / industrial / ambient tracks and soundscapes: there is still more churning of gravel but we also find strange pulsing sequences reminiscent of studies of electronic music done by university boffins and eccentric outsider musicians and musical inventors in the 1950s - 60s. The final track, representing the release through death into nothingness, is a beautiful and strangely exhilarating soundscape, dark and alien in its sculptured crystal loveliness, that loops over and over and over ...

This double set is a decisive conclusion to a highly influential career. Ildjarn's austere minimalism, emotional intensity and primitivism serve as examples other musicians within and outside black metal should take note of; even if they cannot incorporate these characteristics into their own work, they can serve as guides to avoiding musical excess. What the artist behind Ildjarn will do next is hard to say: I gather from reading his "Last Words" that he is extremely weary and disillusioned with the current state of extreme underground metal and this may have been one motivation to end the Ildjarn project before it starts attracting shallow camp followers for the wrong reasons. Much of the 15,000 or 16,000 word statement is a rambling stream-of-consciousness rant against things that get up Ildjarn's nose and which are sure to resonate with others: his fellow Norwegians besotted with their materialistic lifestyles, over-sized holiday houses and over-sized cars; human beings generally (and this is the first time I have come across an admitted white racist who calls his own people "white trash"!); and the state of heavy metal and the superficial people and star-struck musicians who infest the scene, among other things. Regardless of what he is doing now, Ildjarn has left behind a definitive final statement in this double set.

The mission reached to an end - 100%

robert_sun, May 16th, 2006

The mission reached to an end, Ildjarn expended and finally died!

With this special carton-case packaged double CD the Ildjarn story finally closed to an end. The CD contains all the previously unreleased tracks from the Ildjarn career, so all the pretentious fans should buy this release, which also contains a testimonial-like statement (made of 16000 words) from the man behind Ildjarn. The “speech” is not an easy reading, just like the music wasn’t easy-listening, but it is necessary to read it to understand the art of Ildjarn and the motivation of its existence.

The first CD covers two earlier materials: Ildjarn 93 and Minnesiord – The Dark Soil with unreleased tracks as bonus and a compelling cover. The second CD covers the oldest tracks ever recorded by Ildjarn, somewhere in 1992, but also contains the Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truth demo in two different versions.

More than 150 minutes of minimalist Black Metal, which not many people will digest, but Ildjarn never was the typical BM band, never played for the “masses”, he was a unique dash of color on the palette of extreme music scene. The Black Metal legacy of Ildjarn continues to inspire many bands, just as his also unpretentious ambient music.

Nobody succeeded to paint the northern coldness so trustworthy as Ildjarn. The son of the north star completed his road, Ildjarn is dead!

The Roots of Primitivism - 87%

blauth_maldoror, May 8th, 2006

This excellent Northern Heritage boxed set consists of two discs agglomerating Ildjarn's earliest works. Disc One compiles his earliest demos including "Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths," whilst Disc Two contains the Ildjarn '93 and Minnesjord" demos along with six unreleased and unnamed tracks. I shan't bother with reviewing work that has already been reviewed on this page, and rather focus on the unreleased tracks. For commentary on "Seven Harmonies . . ." see unksol's review.

The first part of Disc One is called "Awaiting The Inevitable; As The Dark Soil Of Death Summons You," and actually seems to be simply another mix of "Seven Harmonies . . ." The mix here is thinner, and in my opinion, less muddy. Samoth's vocals come through more clearly here. The bass is pushed more into the background, which is a good thing, as the bass on "Seven Harmonies . . ." tended to mask some of the other instruments. For those who know Burzum's work and are interested, "Unknown Truths II," or what is known as "Silence / Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths I" on the "Seven Harmonies . . . " demo is the same as the "Seven Harmonies . . . " that people have been passing off as a Burzum bootleg for years. It would be my guess that whoever fabricated the original bootleg composed the organ intro for the alleged Burzum track themselves, and then just tacked an even muddier mix of Ildjarn's work onto the organ track. Alright then, here are my notes for the rest of the tracks:

Part I: Awaiting the Inevitable; As The Dark Soil Of Death Summons You:
1. Silence/Analogics; Vinyliac – Mindache: Mostly guitar and Bass reverb.
2. Unknown Truths: Discussed above.
3. Unknown Truths: Slow, grinding waves of appalling, suffocating hate flow over the listener. The track picks up in the middle, then descends back into the drowning music.
4. Unknown Truths: Chopping, rhythmic repetitive hate anthem.
5. Unknown Truths: Is a slow, Black Sabbathy, doomish, plodding vile track. Samoth chants and howls in the background. As with III, this track picks up in the middle. The music gets confused, then tumbles into an Emperor-ish riff. Extremely dark.
6. Unknown Truths: This is a punky, thrashy song. The track progresses like a re-animated corpse, sometimes tripping forward, then occasionally slowing to catch the scent.
7. Unknown Truths: This song features a strange, chattering guitar line, invoking who knows what minion of hate.

Part II: Continuity; And The Unknown Truths Herein
8. Silence / The Logics of Pain: Is backwards masked and extremely short
9. Succumb...(The Mutilation Theme, 2nd Session Version): This is an ambient, Jarboe / Swans – like distorted bass track. It’s reminiscent of the sound of tank treads crushing skulls, or of the world burning.
10. Death Dynamics (Intermediate Version): This song slogs on with an unusual drum beat for Ildjarn. The rhythm is rather like that of an erratic heart, which ceases in the middle of the song in a Burzum inspired pause. The vocalist is not listed, but it sounds like Ildjarn himself. Whoever it is, the vocals are pushed way to the back.
11. Nocturnal Gathering (2nd Session Version): Starts off slow and disharmonic, the track then launches into a Strid-like death-trudge with a wandering, pensive guitar line repeating in the background.
12. 3rd Unknown Harmony (Instrumental): Is the same as unknown truths IV, but instrumental.

Part III: Continuity II; Materialize The End Of The Darkened Path (Same as “Seven Harmonies . . .” and Part I of this album.)
19. Silence / Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths (Original Versions): A track not featured in Part 1, the sound is pacing, tense, evocative of the sound of hostile creepers drawing up a purplish sack of a corpse.
20.XX Death Dynamics (Original First Session Recording): Same as previous death dynamics. Vocals recorded on a really poor microphone, as with the first version, but thrown more to the front here.

Last Part: Into The Chambers Of Submission; You Give Yourself To Nothingness
21.Silence / Pain - Succumb...(The Mutilation Theme; Final Cut)
22. Nocturnal Gathering (Virgin Mix): As with tracks IX & XI, but perhaps better mixes.
23. Buried Alive by Life - Mass Nocturnal - Grieg vs. Death
24. Mass Nocturnal Closing - Buried Alive by Life II - Voice of Death:
25. Echo from the Chambers of Death; Relief - The Escape Entering Timeless Nothingness: These tracks are soniscapes. They’re dark and perfect, as with other Ildjarn works.

A brief note about the packaging: Northern Heritage has done a fantastic job of making this release truly special. The Boxed set comes with a 16,000 word “Last Statement” by Ildjarn, and a mat-black box with what may be the lyrics to “Seven Harmonies . . .” written on its rear side. The Discs themselves are housed in vinyl slip cases with lyric sheets. The lyric sheets contain the artwork from the “Minnesjord - The Dark Soil” and “Ildjarn 93.” Overall the work is tastefully done. Points were taken away for the re-packaging of previously released material, although some of this material is now rather difficult to obtain.