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Raising the bar - 97%

PhantomMullet, November 10th, 2011

"Hamptjarn" might be one of the best WoI releases so far because in addition to the songs having their usual WOI type themes, the song structures are even more diverse and I feel like there's a lot less filler and lagged out songs compared to their previous works. The production is a lot cleaner - you can hear most of the elements better than ever. Also, while WoI is known to have a lot of random samples in the middle of their songs, there's a lot less of that here. I never had a problem with this, but I found that when the few samples were used on "Hamptjarn", they fit in very well. There seem to be a lot more clean vocals, as well. Actually, I don't like to use the term 'clean', rather they are quite ugly, due to some slight, harsh, guttural backing every time

All the songs are great here, but I think the latter half of the album is a bit better than the first half. The first few seconds of "Stilla" sound like Christmas music, with the chiming bells. But once the metal kicks in, the song could be a great depiction for someone whose life slowly deteriorates mentally. "Forsta Augusti" comes off as an incredibly happy song that utilizes very animated tones through the instrumentation. It has that summer-y feel you don't usually find on a metal song. The last two metal tracks are some of WoI's most "normal" songs. "Ending Existence" sounds like something from older Satyricon or many similar Norwegian bands; it's cleanly produced and doesn't make much use of Ravenlord's signature 'uglified' clean vocals. The lyrics are more straight to the point, unlike other WOI songs where many interpretations can arise. "World of Lost Innocence" is also a happy song and is a perfect way to end the album...it's triumphant, comprehensive, and is far from laggy. *

There's a TON of atmosphere to be found here and this is Hamptjarn's biggest selling point. The strange clean vocals provide a unique setting that can only be created WoI. Out of all WOI albums, I believe Hamptjarn feels the coldest. Most of these songs remind me of something you'd hear in a fictional wintry setting popularized by random movies and books. The instrumentation in general is sufficient; you'll want to focus on the music as a whole rather than its individual parts. As usual, WoI doesn't focus on putting in the complicated riffs; instead, you'll find yourself humming to them because they are catchy. Of course, this wouldn't be half as fun without those vocals. Ravenlord does his usual high pitched shrieks, but has been adding more clean vocals as discussed earlier. His transition between both styles is near flawless and begs the question of how anyone could possibly do that in the first place. Like the vocals or not, they're completely fitting and are another major highlight of the album.

Hamptjarn takes you to a fantasy world that's completely inaccessible in our real world. It's a world that has never existed and never will exist in our time. The only way to get there is by listening to what WoI has to offer. It's so easy to get lost in these songs - 4 years after buying the album, I still listen to most of these tracks almost every week. This is a great album for those who want to explore this unique world WoI has created or those who want some happy, wintry sounding metal. My only complaint is the 9 minute track at the end which is composed of random samples and no real music. Unfortunately WOI is known for doing this often, but I'd say just skip this track. Nevertheless, Hamptjarn is awesome and worth buying.

*If you happen to come across the cassette edition, be on the lookout for the bonus track "Rock the World." It's a cover of some Swedish all-girl teeny bopper pop group called Bubbles. How random! To make things even more strange, compare the two versions in terms of lyrics. While the original has lines like "every boy and girl...", the WoI version has "every man and girl." And the word 'dance' is replaced with 'drink.' Knowing WoI, could this be some crude joke or something completely hilarious altogether? I don't know, but it's one of the happiest metal songs I've ever heard!

The Furtherest Reaches Of Dimentia - 90%

lord_infernus, September 25th, 2007

The new release by Woods Of Infinity, "Hamptjarn" is an interesting anomaly. Well, to be fair, anything that these guys release is gonna be out there! I find it strange in that any of thier other reviews, no one has mentioned thier strange sexual predelictions. The guys "thing" is to shock by implying that they have sex with young girls. While I am not easily shocked, and love Black Metal, perhaps the most shocking of all metal related genres. I still find it a little disgusting that these guys revel in such a deviant act. Now on to the music

If you are familiar with WoI, you know exactly what you are in for. There are more of all the strange little excentricities that you have come to love. The production this time around, is a lot better than on previous releases. This may have something to do with this being released on Supernal(a perfect home for these weirdo's). The vocals are a lot more up fron in the mix, and a lot more varied, there is even some strange tenor singing in "Avgrund". The guitars are finally done justice, as they have always been treated as an afterthought. "Ending Existense" may be the most straight forward rocked-out song that they have attempted. Sounding a little like Svartvlheim-era Ancient, with a much better production.

Of course it wouldn't be a WoI release without all of the strange samples and dimentia. These guys do such a wonderful job of using the right samples and keyboard effects. They are the Black Metal equivalent to a David Lynch film. Very surreal, and aestetically pleasing, but sometimes so weird and disgusting, you don't know if you'll make the duration! "World Of Lost Innocence" is a great example of that. Starting off like your standard BM blazefest, complete with military-teutonic style vocals, and then just drifts off into Xasthur like dimentia, before returning back to the headbang!

The best way to describe this is, if you have liked past works of WoI, you will absolutely love this. If you hated them before, you will hate them even more. If you are a newbie to thier world, this would be a perfect place to jump in.