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Når Alt Dør - 25%

JackOfAllBlades, February 15th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Blackcrowned Records

Much like the band name and album title, Når Alt Dør is built on a foundation of uninspired, quotidian black metal. Not a sound on the album is unique within the genre, not a riff on the record is hummable five minutes after the song ends; it's not even bad music per se, just music that absolutely refuses to stand out. The riffs can generally be slotted into one of two sounds: either pseudo-anthemic meloblack with enough major tonality to sound radio-ready, or paint-by-numbers tremolo picking straight from the Darkthrone reject bin. The single-note lead that begins "Kvad til mørket", while nothing to write home about, is at least interesting in that it differs from the rest; even this degenerates in due time to become yet another bland tremolo riff. All this is complemented by some rather unremarkable drumming; the songs consist of blast beats which occasionally give way to half-time (or even quarter-time) patterns, presumably when the drummer gets too tired to continue blasting. Altogether, the composition belies a desire to produce black metal in the safest, stalest mold imaginable.

The band's only real attempt at a unique sound comes on the piano-led introduction, which comes with its own issues. The Nietzsche quote spoken over the music is rendered toothless and inoffensive by now-former vocalist Rongner's limp delivery, but also by time - its capacity to offend religious sensibilities is tied to its historical moment, and I'd argue that the quote's inclusion sabotages the band's anti-Christian themes by framing them as archaic and outworn.

Beyond all of this, however, lies the album's greatest issue: it's boring. The vast majority of tracks consist of just two distinct parts, repeated over and over; yet, many of these songs sit around four minutes' runtime. Kirkebrann simply didn't have the content for a full-length, so they padded Når Alt Dør with filler. What results is a 40-minute album with about enough unique content to fill 20. Of all the tracks, "Tal Satan" is undoubtedly the worst in this regard - when the song faded out, only to reintroduce the lead guitar for a needless coda, I physically cringed.

Strangely, this especially bad track is immediately followed by the album standout. "Nattelokk" manages to set itself apart from the rest of the album through its more moderate pace and an actually-catchy main riff that recalls Danzig rather than the droves of forgettable Black Circle worshipers around the world. Even the blasts and quasi-melodic riffs are welcome on this tune - they actually serve a purpose in the song, even if they quickly give way to a disappointing and badly-placed outro.

With the title track, though, it's clear that the band has every intention of ending the album with the same idea they hammered through for the rest of it. In a way, I suppose this is appropriate - I'd almost hate to close such a bland and derivative album on a better song, because that might suggest that there's a better album lurking behind all the sameness. Fortunately, that's no concern here.