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A unique and great album, almost amazing - 90%

Symphony_Of_Terror, February 17th, 2005

Of all the bastard children projects Fenriz has Isengard may be the only one that stands out, in part because Isengard is only consisting of Fenriz and no other second rate musicians to water down his ideas. Hostmorke won’t amaze you with musicianship or the layout of the songs. It is nothing terribly too complex or mind blowing. It certainly doesn’t have the best production either, of course that is expected with a Fenriz project. What may catch the listener’s attention is the unique vocals that come out of Fenriz as well as how he tries incorporate folk elements into basically Darkthrone style riffs and metal. Fenriz certainly posses the ability to play folk music, and he posses the ability to sing in a folk style, but his ability to fuse folk with Darkthrone style black metal is debatable and questionable. One thing is for sure, that this is original and something that in its own right is good.

There are a lot of Darkthrone style elements to be found on Hostmorke, naturally. The intro riff to Neslepaks sounds exactly like a Darkthrone song. What immediately makes Neslepaks an Isengard song and not a carbon copy of Darkthrone is Fenriz’s unique vocals. They are sung in a loud clean folk style. Almost a chanting where Fenriz is trying to project his voice as if he had to speak to many people without aid of a microphone. There are plenty of dirty black metal style vocals on this album as well, but they are always second to the more dominant loud folk style vocals. Landet Og Havet is a melodic track with no instruments, just Fenriz singing with plenty of volume and layering his vocals apart from themselves to make him sound like a medieval choir of sorts. The rest of the album keeps up with this unique vocal style. I Ei Gran Borti Nordre Åsen is a melodic black metal song with a slow moving pace which works well with the vocals. It also introduces a horn to the album that carries the song with a simple rhythm. To make the song metal at times a few slow, raw, and dirty guitar riffs are presented during non vocal parts. The song didn’t necessarily need them, and I feel would have been better suited if the song used more unique instruments to metal, like a pipe instrument or something of the nature. What makes Hostmorke good and original is that although its labeled as a Folk Metal album it doesn’t use many folk instruments, it how Fenriz uses the unique vocals that when combined with the blackened folk rhythms of the songs makes the need for folk metal instruments irrelevant. Although there were a few times where a folk instrument would have been nice, but not necessary.

Many folk metal bands have folk, then metal, then folk again. Creating an album which isn’t a folk album, nor is it a metal album. Fenriz doesn’t use Folk instruments in many of the songs on Hostmorke, therefore this problem is almost non existent. Instead he plays the guitar and structures the songs to have a blackened folk style rhythm so that his folk style vocals work well with it and take over the need for any folk instruments. This in turn allows for the entire song to be of a folk structure and style, although no folk instruments are played it still certainly has the feel of a folk song. Neslepaks has an traditional German oompa style rhythm going for it at times that when combined with the loud vocals forms a unique sound which isn’t done by many. Over De Syngende Øde Moer also has a nice folk style rhythm that is slow and a bit more choppy than the rest of the album. At times the song has some dirty raw Darkthrone style riffs that make it a bit metal. But these are done at exactly the right time and are used the right amount of times to create a well balanced folk metal song. The majority of the album flows like this, except for the last two songs which although good, do not fit on the album at all.

The only problem this album encountered is on the last two songs, Thornspawn Chalice and Total Death. These are typical, very typical, black metal songs. Dirty, raw, and grim guitar riffs, repetitive second place drums, and the normal screeching grim vocals. All that good stuff. But there are none of the unique Isengard style vocals to be found, nor the enjoyable folk structure. Its like someone took these two songs off a Carpathian Forest album. They do not fit at all basically making this album five unique blackened folk metal songs, and two black metal songs. All of the songs are good, but if this album stayed on the track it was heading by keeping the last two songs in the style of the rest of the album then Hostmorke would be one unique and amazing album. While all the songs with the folk elements are very well done and very enjoyable, the consistency that was broken on the last two songs ruined the flow of the album and limits Hostmorke’s originality. Since Hostmorke is basically the only good full length album doing what it does, it has a monopoly of this specific style of music, or genre. For what the album has it is very enjoyable and unique (something that the black metal world has seem for forgotten as of recently). For its originality and just some very enjoyable and well laid out blackened folk metal Hostmorke gets its high rating.