Friday, July 2, 2010

Drephjard - Maktdominans EP (2009)

Maktdominans is the second EP offering from Norwegians Drephjard, and though recorded a few years back, soon after its predecessor Sorgsvart, it has only recently seen a release through Frostscald Records. For those unaware, Drephjard is a band featuring several members of the defunct Norse band Infernal, with Angst, who also fronts the band Carpticon. The sound here is pretty stock black metal, and unfortunately I feel it often lags behind its potential through a pretty shoddy selection of riffs, which is a symptom of black metal at large these years. There's nothing quite distasteful or oppressive about it, but the compositions are rather stubbornly simple and though the performances all around are tightly wound, it's not something to revisit unless one is direly desperate for more of the same.

One of the major issues is that Maktdominans has such an excellently plotted intro piece which really builds up hopes for the ensuing mayhem. Bleak battlefield ambiance is marked by screams and thunder, and then a beautiful male choral section arrives, followed by further artillery fire and then subdued into a single heartbeat beneath a lightning cracked sky, and an electronic warning system. It's extremely fucking cool, and sounds phenomenal on the stereo. After this, you simply desire the band to stomp on your fucking entrails, but you're only treated to a very familiar and dumb blasted rhythm in "Rovmord". This, my friends, is the downfall of this release. No ambitious writing, nothing but the typical half-step chord progressions inherent in far too much black metal afraid to think beyond a very secure set of borders. It's a shame, truly, because this is one genre of music I feel thrives on its radical ideals and displays of self manifestation.

To be sure, Drephjard have a lot going for them, despite the forgettable writing. The drumming is great, forceful and clear, and the bass line is also pumping. With such an adequate rhythm section, one would expect the guitars to leap across it like lightning, but through just about ever track, the riffs are incredibly dull exercises that must not have taken more than a few moments to conceive. They're just so 'average' that they could probably be improvised. That doesn't mean they are bad, but also not worth the while. Without strong riffs to drive the mind deeper into the band's internal warzone, the imagination is left with nothing but the actual beats and the typical rasping of the genre, and tracks like "Djevelsk Møy" or the title are rendered inert. There's a second ambient segue piece to follow the intro, simply titled "Pt. II", but the later tracks "Kald Jord" and "Slag" do very little to adjust the frustrating formula, even with the more morose closing moments of the latter, cycling back to the haunted slaughter of the intro.

I really wanted this EP to kill me like its intro promised, but its very quickly metered out into the realm of mediocrity. I am reminded of other band's like Sweden's Avsky, who promise a good lick or two and then devolve into writing that would only have been towing the line in the early 90s. True black metal this is, with all the trappings, the grisly outlook and the battering rhythms and harsh poetry of spite. The production is pretty good, and the band can play their instruments, but better material is needed to leave the lasting impression when there are so many out there already putting their own demons to the torch.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]

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