Friday, November 18, 2011

Skjaersild - Skjaersild DEMO (2005)

Skjaersild sounds Norwegian, and in fact the word itself (meaning 'purgatory') belongs to that nationality, but the musician behind the project, one Ravn, is actually from Spain. Yet the name itself is not the only thing about this incredibly minimal recording which breeds reminiscence for those hallowed, Northern climes, it's instrumental, raw black metal with roots in the old styles of Burzum and Ulver before both shifted into their more experimental territories. This self-titled, 2005 demo consists of but two pieces, connected largely due to the primal, haunting guitar tone. While I can appreciate such simple, atmospheric efforts in terms of their artistic intent and credibility, I feel that at times, the demo might actually suffer solely due to its dearth of content and the omission of vocals.

There's very little to work with in the first track, "Blinded to See the Most Inhuman Pain". It's nothing but a guitar droning on in a slightly melodic pattern that gradually builds itself into a dreary, desolate duo with marginally increased complexity in the riff. Nearly four minutes of this seems suitable as the backdrop to a cabin in winter, or a stroll through the woods, in other words passable background music, but with so little happening, the imagination is forced to fill in the rest of the spaces. With this song, those spaces prove too numerous. Its companion piece, the "Rotten Nature", is far more robust, with a pessimistic acoustic melody at the intro that builds into chords and the accompaniment of a drum machine. At around 11 minutes, I was dreading that its opening note progression would proceed for just too long, but thankfully Ravn mixes it up with further acoustic passages and a wailing, somber if simplistic lead.

Going to say it now: even though the riffs are not that inspiring or interesting, "Rotten Nature" would greatly benefit from the application of lyrics. A tortured rasp echoed off into the track's bleak aesthetics would do wonders for such a sterile and sobering slog, and I don't think there is really enough here otherwise. And that, in summation, is the problem I have with the entirety of this first demo, it takes the minimalist philosophy just too far, to the point where it sounds like something almost any budding black metal musician might create with a bare minimum of work and effort. There's nothing glaringly bad about the riffs that ARE here, they simply need a lot more to inspire an audience. I'm not sure how vocals would work with the beat-less opening track, but they most definitely would have aided the other, which represents about 2/3rds of the run time. In the end, Skjaersild sounds more like a demo reel for another demo, than something one would present to listeners.

Verdict: Fail [4.5/10]

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