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Nordland - The Dead Stones - 91%

Edmund Sackbauer, March 5th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Satanath Records (Limited edition)

Nordland is a very hard-working band as “The Dead Stones” is already album number five with the timeframe of only seven years. That being said “band” is a bit misleading as Nordland is just some guy called Vorh who is doing everything by himself. While one-man-projects are nothing new in this day and age the professional quality presented on this album is fascinating.

Instead of trying to find a completely new sound Vorh took inspirations from the big Scandinavian bands of the nineties and injected some of his own ideas to make the music come across fresh and energetic. The main riffs might sound familiar but some of the chord progressions feel like a modern twist on something that has been written three decades ago. A lot of the trademark chops are repeated over and over again but often with subtle variation lending the music a slightly monotonous but also hypnotical and very stringent character.

The greatest aspect of the album is how the harmonies of the lead guitars have been woven into the whole picture and how they work as contrast to the aggressive riff attacks. Vorh has a fantastic talent for creating haunting and beautiful melodies that feel melancholic and depressive but also offer a glimmer of hope at the same time. He has worked with the interaction of musky moments and lighter pieces and has melted all those elements into one great piece of sinister and eerie art. The ambient soundscapes dwelling in the dark build a fantastic and gloomy atmosphere.

I am not sure if the drums are programmed or not but in case of the former the programming job is really more than solid. There are some tempo and rhythm changes well implemented into the mix but generally speaking the drums work as metronome in the background dictating the beat but leaving the big stage to the awesome harmonies.

The vocals are fierce and evil with Vorh’s tone having a real recognition value. He is barking and growling and screaming like a dog of war ramping up the intensity of the album even more. It is not so easy to judge black metal vocals as they are most of the time mainly about sounding as aggressive as possible but what I can say without hesitation is that his style is perfectly fitting the music.

The production is clear and powerful. Some might argue that the mix is too clean for black metal but I for one believe this is necessary to make each detail audible. All the instruments and other sound details have enough room to breathe making the musical journey the more enjoyable. Rounded off by a fantastic looking cover artwork “The Dead Stones” is a great piece of atmospheric yet pounding black metal.