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A newer Kampfar - 90%

Taliesin, January 13th, 2009

After a long break the older Norwegian viking black metal band Kampfar has returned. They have updated their sound a bit, songs are on the darker, more melancholic side now. They also are writing with a bit more repetition and a touch more the older black metal sound, but still with their traditional folk riffs that make up the main of the uniqueness of their sound.

I find that this is their coldest release so far, it is overwhelmingly covered in a gloom, not so much the triumphant warrior metal that came before that would have at times absurdly happy riffs that somehow worked. Very little of that here, from time to time there are moments of major key riffing, but for the most part the guitars play in more minor key tones, while the drums keep a more desperate tone to the songs, providing a lot of structural tension. The riffs on here are as always what I think keeps me coming back. Kampfar have a distinct and very folk inspired sound. Many times they feel like listening to an ancient folk tradition simply hooked up to electric instruments. Perhaps out of all of the bands in this style they are the only ones who consistently and truly have that sort of sound almost all the time.

This could be compared to something I remember reading somewhere that the old black metal bands from Norway all sounded like some form of new folk music played very differently from old folk music. This statement has always stuck with me for a great deal of the Norwegian (and perhaps Polish and Russian scenes as well) bands had this sort of naturalistic Earthy approach to writing, where it was more based on inspiration then always trying to sound like someone else. That came latter. As such, Kampfar are without a doubt among the truly unique bands to come out of Norway and it's very good to hear something new from them that is still very good and know that some bands from Norway can evolve while still staying true to their roots and their basic sound.

This release is a deeply atmospheric recording that will satisfy any fan of folk black metal. They sound much less in the Viking spirit nowadays, but thats okay, I like this darker, more streamlined Kampfar very much.