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Back to the future with old school 90s Norsk BM - 78%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, August 13th, 2018

Ováte might be a new project but its two members have lengthy pedigrees playing for other Norwegian BM bands. Past experience pays off on Ováte's self-titled album: the guys know a catchy melody or riff when they hear one and they build up lively raw BM aggression around it. The songs on offer may not necessarily offer anything out of the ordinary on 1990s-styled melodic raw BM but they are solid songs full of energy and passion and plenty of hooks. The band's guitar sound is clean, steely and cutting, and the aggression and anger in the flowing music are strong and intense. While the drums probably could be a lot thicker and more muscular, the enthusiasm, energy and skill behind them powering the music are what really matter, and some of the aggression in the guitars and the vocals (courtesy of various guest vocalists) could be smothered by heavier and overdone percussion.

"Morgenstjerne / Morning Star" flies out the starting gates at a fast clip and keeps going strongly until just past the halfway mark where it becomes more sedate and settled, and adopts a more triumphal tone with choral singing and rousing riffs. The following track "Song til ein orm" is a more aggressive and hostile piece with snarling vocals but the catchy pop tunes, trilling tremolo riffs and the moods they induce will make this song a favourite with listeners. Overall, tracks 1 to 4 are brisk and busy with loads of shrill solo lead guitar shredding over steady grinding chainsaw rhythm guitars and solid drumwork. The vocals aren't always very clear on a couple of songs but if listeners treat them as part of the music rather than separately, this aspect of Ovate's style may not be too much of an annoyance.

"Inst I Tanken" is the longest track and the closest Ováte come to creating an epic song with ice-frost vocals and an instrumental passage of raw steel-edged noise guitar over an ambience of rainstorm and roaring demon voice. Ranging from fast and frenzied to medium-slow and focusing on creating intense atmosphere that sometimes borders on demonic and hellish, this song leaves a deep impression of strong malevolent forces being channelled through trilling layers of noisy guitars and sighing choirs.

With this debut, Ováte make a definite statement of being a tough, no-nonsense raw BM band hearkening back to the glory days of 1990s melodic Norwegian BM with a fresh sound and ambient elements. The band could benefit from a more distinctive and individual sound, and maybe stronger percussion, and a more adventurous approach diving into aspects of folk or other native Norwegian styles might help as well. Perhaps these things will come with time, when the band considers releasing more studio work and maybe a live recording.

Make Norsk Black Metal great again! - 90%

ConterGanter, July 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, 12" vinyl, Soulseller Records (Limited Edition)

Now, that's what I call a huge surprise! To me it used to be Sweden that ruled the current battleground of traditional Scandinavian black metal the last couple of years (see Stilla, Trolldom or Grifteskymfning for instance), so I didn't simply expect nothing out of black metal's actual mothercountry Norway, I really wasn't checking out newer acts in the first place. (Also the black metal scene's constant jerking off to Taake is something I cannot actually relate to.)

And then, out of nothing, I stumble over Ováte, a Norwegian duo, that is - oh well - formed by two constant members of Hoests live line-up. But what those two guys and an actual handful of (more or less legendary) session vocalists are delivering here is just about fascinating!

It's no secret, that I can go pretty anal about Norwegian black metal of the 90's, so I'm aware, that said era is a closed chapter, an irretrievable feeling. "Ováte", however, very quickly turns into an absolute jawdropper as it gathers a damn lot of that old feeling. Of course, musical frames are set by impellent Taake-style riffing, that's way ahead of anything Hoest released since "Over Bjoergvin Graater Hmmerik". But it's not the post 2000's sound that's so intriguing here. "Ováte" becomes a highly addictive album, once all those old school nuances are discovered. It was managed to set regular reminders throughout the songs, that sound a lot like mid-90's to early 2000's (midtempo) Enslaved. And this is simply a damn great achievement!

For example "Song Til Ein Orm" starts off with a proper headbanger riff quite comparable to Khold's groove only to show off with an almost criminally fascinating blend of Enslaved's "Frost" and Satyricon's "Shadowthrone" against its mid. Or there's the striking "The Horned Forest King" that sprinkles an idea of Plaguewielder-ish Darkthrone over a mixture of "Hordanes Land" and aforementioned "Bjoergvin". - Honestly, I'm deeply impressed by this record!

...which is limited to a 300 copies only. I doubt "Ováte"'s a modern classic of the genre, because it acts perfectly within its relatively tight borders and has no sense for innovation, whatsoever. But it could very well turn into a personal classic due to its brilliant revivification of this old and exclusively Norwegian style. It's definitely gonna show up in the upper end of my year's best list, no doubt on that.

(Originally written for https://www.instagram.com/poltercica)

Aindiachaí's Spawn - 78%

psychoticnicholai, June 5th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Soulseller Records (Limited edition, Digipak)

Ováte is the band where Taake live guitarist, Aindiachaí seeks to carve his own dark, shadowed space in the realm of black metal independent of his older compatriots. What we get on offer here is some very stern and aggressive black metal that holds up the genre’s traditional sound very well. Of course, this is to be expected of someone who was skilled enough to have played in Taake, but also in Gorgoroth, both bands that have a strong reputation and a solid pedigree in the genre. However, aside from all that pomp, it seems like this two-man project (the other partner being Taake drummer, Brodd) has the chops to produce some really aggressive, biting black metal regardless of their history when you hear the music. While they may not be reinventing the wheel here, Ováte do show a strong inclination towards rapid-fire tremolo riffing and some impact-laden drum volleys that make their songs roll and blast despite being very traditional to the style. It’s the sort of stuff that grits its teeth in glee at new prey just as black metal should and makes for some good new material.

Musically, Ováte does traditional black metal very well with the production of the album sounding very clear, but also very cutting to make the guitars come in like razor wire and the drums pop like cannons with every hit of the snare. It’s not a big departure from the sort of stuff that you’d be familiar with on Gorgoroth’s or Taake’s output of very riff-focused black metal that doesn’t try to dazzle you with weird atmospheres or odd playing styles, instead just going for a flat-out aggressive piece of old-school tremolos coiled around stomping riff patterns. The riffs do well to create an almost whirlwind quality to the sound of this album that makes it good to bang your head along to. Though, this leads to a factor which decides how much you’ll like this album and that is how long you can enjoy a certain riff and how much impact that riff carries. I can definitely see more impact from “Morgenstjerne” and “Song til ein orm” than from “Illug” since their riffs are more driving and they use them in concert with everything else to make a punchy black metal song, while “Illug” just sort of sits there. There is also the inclusion of occasional low, throaty, Nordic-style vocals on the closing sections to a few of these tracks and they do add a nice break from the norm with something interesting and melodic to contrast the darkened assault. With all of this being said, these songs do have subtle progressions to keep everything moving well and the crisp sound of it all makes for a good listen. If you want some back-to-basics, blackened whirlwinds to darken your spirits, Ováte is a solid album, even if it is really similar to the other bands that helped birth it.

I’d have to say that Ováte is off to a good start with this self-titled debut. If you feel you need a bit of black metal that puts its strength in it’s riffs and cuts fairly sharp, this will scratch your itch, especially if you are a fan of one of the other bands Aindiachaí was a part of in recent years. While it may not be a brand-new take on blackened aggression, this does deliver plenty of hard hitting rushes of wolfish riffs and pummeling drums that are a great expression of simple, darkened rage. Some people may need a little more than that to get them going, but what we have here is fierce set of songs with rhythms that fly like birds of prey in a storm performed by two extremely capable musicians. It works solidly as a back-to-basics demonstration of black metal. It also shows that this band is in a solid spot to build upon this, especially if “Morgenstjerne” is anything to go by. It seems like Ováte are off to a decent start and it will lead to some solid future blackened assaults.

(This review was originally written for The Metal Observer)