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Very Competent Stand-Alone Album - 88%

ImpureSoul, December 16th, 2012

Kvist formed and released an album on the coat-tails of the second wave of Norwegian black metal, in 1996. This was to later be considered by black metal purists the final year for “true Norwegian black metal”. Though I would not put Kvist on a high pedestal as a crowning achievement of an era, I feel that they are a very-much overlooked band that has a lot of strength and promise contained within their first and only full-length release, titled For Kunsten Maa Vi Evig Vike.

With great melodies and compact songs that flow well and present a pretty strong atmosphere, there’s a lot to like here. They follow the same melodic/synthesized approach as early Dimmu Borgir and Emperor did, but they use keyboards as subtle lifts in the background of their music, making the rare keyboard leads all the more appreciated when they do come in. Most of the time, the keyboards exist to play long, drawn-out notes in the background while everything else rages on like a flurry of ice and slow. Their biggest lead moments would definitely be through most of Stupet and Svartedal, and they work quite well on both of those songs.

Surprisingly, the production of the album is heavy on bass, throwing the old black metal tradition out in favour of a dense crunch. The guitars still maintain a low-fi sharpness to them that will make old Burzum and Darkthrone fans cream themselves, so nothing is lost with the inclusion of loud bass. The drums are thin but very well-played, and given the production value of everything else are pretty well-recorded. I feel they can get a little on the loud side at times, and usually usurp the guitars in terms of volume, but everything is audible at all times, so the volume of the drums are only a small detriment to the music. The vocals, done in a growled spoken-word sort of style and oddly crisp and clean compared to everything else, aren’t hugely interesting, but they still sound pretty good. A few long, drawn out screams would have been interesting though. Sometimes the production can come off as a little flat, and sometimes the guitars feel a little washed out, but I find that this feeling isn’t as bad after multiple listens. For the most part, everything works really well together. Most of the time, each instrument plays along but does not copy. Even the bass can be heard breaking off into its own patterns while the guitars play above it with riffs that sound great.

The big draw to this album for me is Kvist’s ability to structure and progress a song. Sometimes they tap on a basic verse/bridge/chorus structure, but it’s not long before they begin blasting forward with hosts of new hook riffs and leads. Songs are well-built into climactic sections (I find they do this particularly well on Stupet), and key moments stand way out in front and are never in danger of being over-repeated. Layers come and go as an underlying drum beat goes on, and the tempo and feel of a song will shift like an ever-outstretching landscape. Forbannet Vaere Jorden Jeg Går På is a great progressing song, and after the bass interlude it seems to really shine. The song also makes great use of repetition of a key section that features an organ—used twice in the beginning, and is not heard again until the song closes, but hearing it after such a long period of shifting music really changes it just by context alone. There’re plenty of memorable moments in each song, great and strange riffs that are emphasized by a sudden silence from the bass.

And with all this, there’re still plenty of breakneck blast-beat moments where everything seems a blur of power and speed, played by musicians that clearly know what they’re doing. There’s enough here to impress most black metal fans that don’t mind a band that isn’t too far out of the box. The length of the album is very good—with only six songs totaling less than forty minutes, it’s relatively short for a black metal album, but you I can definitely get a lot of enjoyment out of it as there is no song that seems particularly weak compared to the others.

So while For Kunsten Maa Vi Evig Vike is not dripping with originality, great songwriting and melodies more than make up for it. It follows archetypal Norwegian melodic black metal of the time, sure, but it does it very well and is probably worth your time if you’re into any of the Norwegian black metal bands of early-to-mid 90s. It’s a great album for someone interested in raw black metal with a good helping of melody and song progression.

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