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Bittersweet - 90%

Viking_Bastard, May 19th, 2017

Ten years ago Lars Jensen released his debut full length album. As a 16 year old who had fallen in love with everything Norway, that album blew me away. It didn't just sound authentic (despite no use of actual folk instruments) it was consistently great. Since then my relationship with Lars and his music has been gratifying and agonizing.

The opening track "Skojin Jomfru" is the high point of the album. Authentic sounding folk music with a splash of metal. For the first time we hear an actual Norwegian hardanger fiddle in Myrkgrav, and it'll be heard many more times throughout the album. My first disappointment, and this is a minor complaint, is unlike most tracks (and an 8 year old demo of this one) the vocals were not layered. Lars is a great singer but he sounds best when he has the epic choir thing going on.

Likewise, "Om A Danse Bekhette" is no where near as good as it was on the original album. "Finnkjerringa" sounds nearly the same and didn't warrant a repeat appearance. These recycled tracks are also among few other instances of the straight up black metal riffing we heard in the previous album.

Another aggravating thing is instrumentals like Spelsnatt could have been highlights of the album, but were obviously made with vocals in mind. Other songs with vocals such as Tuurjard just sound uninspired.

We of course have to keep in mind the title of this album "Thanks and Farewell." I've been nagging Mr.Jensen on social media for the better part of a decade and it eventually became known to the internet that this is a man who would like to produce more material, but can't/won't for various reasons changing from writers block to time constraints and other hobbies.

But while this is more of a compilation of various tracks recorded over the last five or so years, it does have a heartfelt feel to it. Some of the fiddle folk sections are simply beautiful, including the bittersweet title track, which is also the albums closer. It somehow does manage to maintain some semblance of an album as a whole, despite obviously not being written as one.

While I've been harsh, its because Myrkgrav is my favorite band after Borknagar, even after all these years. This is a fantastic album in its own right and its greater than the sum of its parts. Lars Jensen is a master of his craft and should not be overlooked.