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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