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Underwhelming Black Metal Named After Some Town - 62%

DeafSparrow, June 2nd, 2017
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Folter Records (Digipak)

This review was originally published on the Deaf Sparrow Facebook page on 29 August 2016. Written by Stanley Stepanic.

I really enjoyed this cover by Misanthropic-Art, who's done some great work for Asphyx, but unfortunately I didn't share the same opinion of the music for this particular album. I thought I would like it more than I didn't (figure out that creative wording, I can't). I gave it several listens, and I'm perhaps more confounded going out than I was going in at the sheer averageness herein. I can rhyme too, see?

Narvik come from Germany, though they've named themselves after a town in Norway where once lived the guitarist of the Norwegian alt-rock band Madrugada, which for some reason these Germans have chosen as their inspiration. Yes, you read that right. I would have rather they admitted they were fans of Mudhoney, to be clear. I'm not even sure why such an obscure pick would have been the primary inspiration behind what is a generally traditional approach to black metal, but hey, I guess everyone's trying a new angle these days. Why not pick a random town for a band name? Something like that.

But forget the name, the unfortunate thing is "Ascension to Apotheosis" offers very little beyond its art. Narvik take far too much time developing any sense of sound, relying heavily on accessible, yet simple BM riffing, sometimes degraded by odd lo-fi static riffs in the background. The drums pound like a bunch of horses out to graze, and the vocals, well, there's a problem. I was a bit confused when I found one "critic" praise them as the glory of this album, when I myself was entirely underwhelmed at their mediocre delivery. We're talking more of a demo-level sound test than a full-length released after roughly a decade. Redeemer (really?) has very little muscle to back up what he's saying, and possibly no spine. He attempts to muster up the blackest bile from his innards, but it comes out as geriatric spittle without the disease. As such, sadly, this album is entirely average on so many levels it comes and goes and you're pretty sure it was all the same song yet you forgot every second of it. And I still can't get over that name, what BM act from Germany names itself off of a city or town? I don't care if it's Norway, the so-called heart of BM, I mean it makes as much sense as calling yourselves Pittsburgh, though it is a steel town and that's pretty metal. Well how about Harrisburg, makes as much sense as that. At least pick a city with some dark history behind it, like the obvious Salem, I don't know. At any rate most of you will likely find "Ascension to Apotheosis" listenable, but almost a contradiction. Thanks to Folter Records for the promo.