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Norse rock - 50%

Sinsza, May 23rd, 2010

Firstly, to impartially describe the music I must say most of this album is not quite metal. One would ask why not? Of course, Windir use screaming black metal-type vocals, their rhythm guitar is heavily distorted and plays all notes in fast tremolo picking, their drummer uses polka and black metal blast beats, among others; whoever produced their sound, he put enough reverb/room/echo effect on it so that listeners would call the music "deeply atmospheric". For some, these things are enough to call music "(black) metal". But there are other things to pay attention to.

Apart from a couple of moments, like the first half of the "Likbor" song, the music texture on this album is closer to rock and punk (Placebo, Muse, Zemfira and RAC bands) than to metal. Like in rock, here are a couple of instruments that just shift chords in generic uniform progressions (here: bass and rhythm guitar), and a lead instrument that continually plays a melody at high notes, harmonizing with the chords (here: lead guitar and sometimes keyboards). In brief, there are very few riffs here. Also, the clean, supposedly "viking", vocals used for some of the choruses strongly resemble those of late Enslaved. They're mellow and peaceful, if not humble.

The song structures, however, position the album a bit closer to metal. They are not the standard MTV verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus patterns. They are rather various, if not epic. Example of this are several verses in a song, each played to it's own new musical pattern, or extra long song outros and intros.

The album's production is about ideal to me - neat and clear.

Secondly, even as a rock or punk album, it sounds uninspired. As long as the screamed vocals, obviously, carry no notes and the clean vocals here just double the chord-shifting, the main music carrier is the melodies played by the lead guitar in their harmony with the rhythm. But the melodies are mostly generic arpeggios - just characterless uninventive filler. There's not a single melody you would involuntarily remember. This, in turn, means that "Soknardalr" is good as road music, background music.

If anything on this album is worth attention, it's probably the special Norwegian dialect in which the lyrics were written (wish I could understand them). But that's just of anthropological interest.