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Ofermod: Thaumiel - 92%

filthgrinding_scum, November 27th, 2012

So as we march towards the end of the year I've been awaiting releases from some pretty spiffing bands to see if it would beat Mgla's 'With Hearts Towards None', it would appear my invocations have been received and delivered unto very satisfactorily with the new Ofermod, Hell Militia and Shining albums (reviews for the latter following shortly). Interestingly the new Hell Militia and Shining albums brought to mind Ofermod so I was interested to see how the progenitors would fare against those so evidently influenced by them.

I've been waiting with bated breath for Ofermod's newest release after their previous excellent effort Tiamtu, the sinister Swedes have managed to follow it up with their best work yet and definitely one of the best albums I've heard this year.

Thaumiel is awash with atmosphere and dripping in malevolence, for those that don't know Ofermod are a Satanic band first and foremost, their music being an invocation to the dark gods; their ideology is based around the Kliffot as can be witnessed from the name Thaumiel the god at the top of the 'Tree of Death' from whom all other gods emanate. This information may seem superfluous to your appreciation for Ofermod but (to sound elitist) to fully accept the glory of Ofermod one has to at least commend their ideals even if you don't align yourselves with their beliefs, the music is but one mere facet to Ofermod and whilst thoroughly enjoyable understanding their views and what they are preaching about adds another dimension to the music. This has always been the case with Ofermod but I feel on this album they exemplify it more so than they have on any other album; the whole album feels incredibly ritualistic, the whole album is imbued with a darkness that has not been so definitively captured for some time and definitely not in anything I've heard this year.

The songs are rich, dense and seeped in atmosphere, whilst 'Tiamtu' has more death metal leanings in its sounds Thaumiel is slightly colder but still maintains a thick oppressive production that has become a staple of Ofermod. The album is mostly a slow, lumbering leviathan with simplistic riffs weaving in and out of the bass and drums. Musically the songs are what one would expect from Ofermod and there is not great departure with dissonant chords and lots of minor inflections throughout the album. Something that makes the album incredibly atmospheric is the utilisation of choiral vocals which really give a sense of ritualism to the songs, coupled with clean vocals that break through every so often infuse the album with a darkness that is more menacing than their previous works. The instrumentation is nothing that particularly excels, I would be surprised if you remark upon the 'complexity' of any of the instruments because there isn't any particularly, nor are there riffs that will have you humming for hours afterwards, the songs though are lush and dense in their composition that negate the need for any technical wankery, after all, technicality is not necessarily a display of musical brilliance

This is an album that wins for me on a couple of points, initially this is an album that feels like it is contributing to black metal as a whole, helping to push it towards the darker ideals that I believe it should be, this album (as with all other Ofermod releases) will go down as another step in legitimising black metals darker beliefs, cementing it as a truly dark genre and hopefully putting another nail in the coffin of fantastical and irrelevant black metal bands themes. Secondly, although this is an album contributing to black metal it is also an album that exists for itself and its own cause, whatever other praise may be showered upon the band is merely an added bonus and this can be seen with Ofermod's lack of interaction with the 'scene' as a whole, they want to proffer their sermons and that is all, unlike a band like Watain for example who have a similar belief system but are also dedicated to trying to spread their message to the masses (or so they say, the lure of big bucks seems like a more likely reason). There have been some exceptional albums this year but most of the albums I've heard only fit into one of the above categories for example Hell Militia, Behexen and Vorkreist would fit into the first category and Shining, Enslaved and Blut Aus Nord would fit into the latter.

In some ways I'm worried that I'm buying too much into Ofermod and investing too much into their atmosphere, what knowledge surrounds the band, their ideas as much as I do the music, however I'm able to satisfy any misgivings I may have by the knowledge that for me black metal should be a dark, introspective and at times harrowing journey, I want naught to do with premises of trolls, orcs, nature, etc., Ofermod fills these expectations I have of black metal. This is not to say that I think anyone will enjoy the songs any less, they are still first class but I do believe that added depth is added when the whole experience can be absorbed and digested.

Score - 92%

(Originally written for