Sunday, November 30, 2008

Slagmaur - Skrekk Lich Kunstler (2007)

What's this? A Norwegian's tribute to the black metal he grew up on in the 90s, done by a bloke who calls 'isself General Gribbsphiiser? Alright, I approve of his name. I also think the cover art for this is pretty awesome, so here goes.

Gribbsy may have made this as a tribute, and there's certainly a bit of Burzumic influence laying around, but this isn't the same stale worship we've seen for over a decade. Skrekk Lich Kunstler is a brooding work of haunting atmospheres heralded by martial severity and neoclassical perturbations. The black metal portions arise as almost funereal efforts: simplistic riffs crawling in distortion and reverb, even simpler drums pounding with a detached, unwavering focus. As you might guess, the worth here lies in the mood. The metal acts as an undercurrent, a solid anchor upon which all the murk builds and feeds upon. And what a murk, what a phenomenal stink the old miser Gribbsphiiser has built upon it. Aside from the thick ambience that hides in the corners of each song and the mad dementia of the vocals, the real lethality of Skrekk Lich Kunstler comes from the aborchestral tone blatantly portrayed on the cover. While "Norwegian Giant" sets you up for the garrote with its lurking strings and somber war horns, "Olderman Uhygge" openly stalks you, always remaining unsettlingly visible on the periphery. "Die Eldres Klage" has some strangely idyllic flute strains that gives it an air of righteous murder. "Mordfor" finishes the album on a tenuous note with a dissonant piano intro that quickly decays in favour of an urgent wall of unholiness. Trilling guitars seem to fight with themselves for their very existence, rising uncertainly amongst the confusion.

This is a dense, powerful trip through the blackened filth of Norway, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves the slow might of doom, the madness of black metal, or the depths of dark ambience. The only real weakness comes in the opener "Eik Som Klor", as it lacks the rich atmosphere of the other songs and gets a bit lost in repetition as it wears on, but this isn't enough to keep the album down.

Verdict: Win [4/5]

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