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The Shitty Isengard - 39%

Acrobat, March 27th, 2010

There’s a scene in one of the Wayne’s World films in which Wayne inquires about a band called “The Shitty Beatles”. “Are they any good?” he asks, “No, they’re shitty” is his answer. Storm is kind of like that. Almost refreshingly honest, really.

Now, I rather like Isengard, don’t you? Particularly the more rousing, folky moments -- they’ve just got a certain robust charm to them that I find really appealing. I picked up Vinterskugge probably not too long after my initial exposure to Darkthrone with the A Blaze in the Northern Sky album, and I’ve always been thoroughly impressed with it. After listening to this -- thankfully, Storm’s only album -- I think I appreciate it even more. While Isengard’s certainly a quirky band -- not to say that any of Mr Nagell’s projects are straight-ahead affairs, by any means -- but the writing is of such quality that you can’t help but be drawn into the rich imagery of endless Scandinavian woods, perhaps occupied by all sorts of little Golum-esque creatures whose existence pre-dates that of Lumberjacks by several hundred centuries. So what of this, then? Well, forget quirky this is fucking goofy.

The folk aspect seems a whole lot less natural, which is of mild importance when it comes to any sort of folk influence, really. It’s pretty funny, then, to dwell on the fact that what we have here are apparently renderings of traditional Norwegian folk songs (not being familiar with any Norwegian folk music, I’ll take the archives’s word on that). In fact, Nordavind feels contrived in that sort of “super group” sense that’s so very fucking annoying. Yep, you may not see Storm shelved next to The Crooked Vultures or The Firm any time soon, but in essence they’re rather similar. I really do believe that Fenriz’s projects outside of Darkthrone were better off without any sort of meddling outside influence. This album has two of ‘em. Nordavind, amongst its meagre achievements, can list exposing Satyr as a really plain guitarist, for one thing. For a point of reference, you could compare ‘Noregsgard’ to Darkthrone’s ‘Quintessence’. One features a talented guitarist, one who might mainly be a drummer, but still, very talented. The other doesn’t. As it turns out brilliant ideas are made that way by their execution, and if you give gold to a bumbling fuck-up he can still somehow turn it into lead. Congrats, Satyr. There is, of course, another “special guest artiste” here -- Kari from The 3rd and the Mortal. Her voice is pleasant, I like it. But the honest truth is she does nothing of particular interest with it, either following Fenriz’s drunken rambling or following the riffs to make everything seem that little bit more “hey nonny nonny”. One can’t help but feel that Storm did at least have some talent within its ranks, but unfortunately, none of it is put to any real use. Also, while I’m at it -- there seems to be the rather infamous case of Kari telling the very spirited boys in the band not to write anything nasty in the lyrics, and then -- defying all warning! -- they did just that. I don’t know about you but telling extreme metal musicians not to write any extreme lyrics (especially considering their past of writing, you guessed it, extreme lyrics) seems a little silly. It’s kind of like putting a box of matches in front of a child and telling him, “Don’t you play with those matches or I’ll leave your daft little folk metal project!”. God, who could have expected this band to be so damn tempestuous!

Honestly, this thing just seems like a lesson in absurdity. If it’s not just plainly absurd, then it’s absurdly goofy. It should be noted that the best song here is the one which has that riff off Panzerfaust.Whereas Isengard seems to steer clear of the trappings of folk metal, Storm just blunders straight into them. It just seems like Fenriz had so much creative energy in the mid-90s that he felt like channelling it into something bafflingly shit. The whole thing is just one unmitigated, messy fuck-up. Sometimes you just don’t need that extra side-project, eh?