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A timeless classic - 93%

MikeyC, October 11th, 2008

Wow, not a single review in over 4 years! That must tell you something…either this album is pretty obscure, or it’s impossible to review. I am leaning towards the latter there, because the things that are going on in this album can confuse you. You know what you want to say, but then at the same time, you have no idea. So, with that in mind, I shall attempt it.

This is Snorre’s debut album, and only full-length in 19 years of existence! That’s a long time between drinks. Still, don’t let the relative inactivity put you off, as this is a really great album, which fuses black metal and industrial together seamlessly. What creates the industrial feel of this album would definitely be the guitars. They sound like they have a small amount of distortion, yet feel very raw as well. It’s quite hard to explain properly, but they have quite a “cold” sound to them, if that makes any sense at all. Needless to say, it fits well into the style of music played. And the riffs are catchy…maybe too catchy for black metal standards. The beginning of “Stellar Master Elite” contains a great riff that doesn’t exactly fit for black metal, yet Snorre makes it fit.

The vocals are a raspy growl, which enhances the industrial feel again. Guttural or screaming vocals probably would not have had the same effect here, because they’d be a little too extreme. I quite like the vocals, and Snorre’s spoken words on “Vortex”. A very competent addition.

The drumming is not anything outstanding, but in this case, it is a good thing. They’re mixed well, but not loud enough to be overbearing to everything else. Hellhammer, who everyone will be familiar with from Mayhem, Dimmu Borgir, and many other bands, shows his skills here with impeccable timing and some rapid double bass work. However, one thing I noticed…does he do any blast beating at all? I can’t recall any song where there’s blast beating. If this is true, then it’s a wake-up call to other bands of any genre that you don’t need to blast continuously to be good! I commend the songwriting ability of Snorre to not have to fall back on the trusty blast beat.

Now, the industrial elements. Just listen to the track “Shifting Channels”. If you want industrial, you got it in spades here. The drumming and the samples in this track are phenomenal pieces of work, and gives the track a really mechanical vibe to it. The guitars have a secondary role here that is a welcome relief. “Underneath The Universe 1” is a mostly ambient track, and sounds very minimalist. With the absence of vocals, there is very little happening in that track, but do not panic, as the entire 7+ minutes don’t feel forced or overdrawn. It proves to be a nice lead-in to part 2, which spans nearly as long as the first part.

So there it is. Most of the songs don’t reach any great speeds, but they don’t have to. The song structures are good enough to carry each song through without being boring or contrived. This is truly a shining light in black metal, and metal in general. A definite, timeless winner.

Best tracks: Existence, Stellar Master Elite, Underneath The Universe 1, Vortex

P.S. I should also add: For those who condemn Snorre for his involvement in the murder of Euronymous, you may be biased as to how you view this album. While I personally don’t agree with his actions there, I can’t deny the effort and greatness that this album provides. I’m not going to let his actions stop me from getting enjoyment out of his work here. Just putting it out there.