Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sorgeldom - Vithatten (2011)

Sweden's promising Sorgeldom have decided to branch their sound out along two paths. Two new albums released concurrently, each corresponding to one of their previous full-lengths. Vithatten, also referred to as their 'forest session', is clearly hearkening back to the more rustic black/folk metal roots of their 2009 debut Innerlig Förmörkelse, but I'm quite surprised to find that I have enjoyed this the most of any of their material to date. Here they've gone for a very unpolished, live sound to the compositions, a springy punch to the acoustic sequences and a very vibrant, loud tone to the guitars, and yet they've lost none of the nuance or complexity that they've been developing these past few years. Vithatten is not so progressive as last year's Inner Receivings or its spiritual successor ...from Outer Intelligences, but the riffs and overall ideas behind this music are quite stunning despite the low fidelity of the production.

The opener is an intro with a lot of feedback and some freakish, ambient whines leading into the charge of the title track, which features some of the band's most memorable, jangled riffing, as it cavorts through and near constantly shifts its structure through periods of grace and dissonance. They alternate in and out of a folksy gait for "De Gangnas Skalder", incorporating some acoustic leads with the thrusting melodic spurs of aggression; and this is more or less the strategy for most of the songs. Favorites include the brief "Av Sten", a slowly escalating piece with a tinge of distortion to the guitars married to cleaner, chanted voices, and I must say that such cleans here are far less grating than they seemed on the companion studio album. "Mylingsdimma" might just have the best balance of elements here, but "Inom Bergets Salar" takes the title for the creep of its bass-lines beneath the eerie acoustics, with the vocals set to a mere whisper.

The final three tracks of Vithatten were recorded at a separate session, and thus they don't quite match up in tone, even if the style is in the same camp. "Vilsna Tankars Spokerier" has a lot of the brooding, clean chants which honestly remind me of the monks in Monty Python & the Holy Grail chanting their Latin requiem; while "I Fonstret Blickar Kvinnan" goes for a decidedly grim, grimy outlook and the finale, "Skuggor av Black" is a shimmering acoustic outro. Interesting that, even for the acoustic pieces, the hiss of tape in the production never ceases, giving it all a very demo-like or live studio aesthetic which somehow really worked for me. In all, I wouldn't say that the material here is quite so complex or dynamic as that of ...from Outer Intelligences, but it's certainly an enjoyable set of songs that may hold some appeal for fans of Klabautamann or the early Ulver releases. A 'forest session' indeed; all it's missing are the crackling campfires, bristling winds, squirrels and shouting lumberjacks.

Verdict: Win [7.75/10]

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