Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sorgeldom - ...from Outer Intelligences (2011)

...from Outer Intelligences is the companion album to Sorgeldom's Vithatten, released simultaneously but weaving its way up a quite different web. This is by far the most esoteric, progressive recording that the band have yet recorded, but it does contain a few traits in common with the other albums, at least in the eccentric riff patterns and mixture of acoustic and electric instruments to create a lattice of mesmerizing contrasts. There are also several aesthetic differences between this and Vithatten. Where that album goes for the whole live, rustic, lo-fi production, this is as clean and polished as their 2nd album Inner Receivings. The guitar tone is thin, yet richly melodic, and the drums and bass are naturally better balanced. The cover art also forsakes the wonderful black/white illustrations of its partner album, but this is their best packaging yet, capturing a few of the same Garden of Earthly Delights images (via Hieronymous Bosch) that Celtic Frost used on Into the Pandemonium.

Inner Receivings definitely had a streak of the popular post-black/shoegazer sound to it, which honestly held it back a bit, though I enjoyed it more than the debut. With this album, the Swedes have abandoned that to incorporate their folksy swagger into a more harried, technical style that had only been hinted at. Songs like "Utesluten Fran Universums Koreografi" and the 9+ minute epic "Hanford av Tvangshandlinges Synagoga" feature a lot of tempo changes, with a mix of the clean and harsh vocals, periods of calm being ruptured by harsher, melodic black metal rhythms and then back again, and I can promise that at least it never borders on ennui. However, I have to admit that I enjoyed the vocals here the least of all their records. The harsh rasps are a bit too full and overbearing for the thinner guitar tone, and the cleans often feel as if singer is a little drunk and slovenly. Neither approach is all that much of a distraction, or distinctly 'bad', but I never felt as if they were really adding anything, and set my ears to focus on the guitars, which are crashing and hurtling around all over the mix of Swedish and English lyrics that are both cosmic and philosophical in nature.

Where Vithatten is the 'forest' session, this is definitely traipsing along the margin of the inner soul and infinite space beyond the known world. A nice splicing of themes, for sure, but this CD does also include a number of more folksy pieces like "Mannen vid Stugan" and "Tragedin Skraddarsydde mitt Hjartas Omma Sommar". Alas, those woozy clean vocals I mentioned do sort of pollute the former piece, and the last (and outro "Kontakt") are pleasant but not at all important or representative of the album as a whole. My favorite single track here is likely the bold "To Where Your Tracks End", with its railroad samples, flowing dual acoustics and the best clean vocals on the album, which are pitched with a psychedelic, almost Pink Floyd numbness that totally sells the atmosphere. I felt that, with this track, Sorgeldom were opening up a Pandora's Box of potential...if only more of the music had a similar, consistent depth and vision.

Ultimately, ...from Outer Intelligences is still a strong enough effort that fans of the outer fringe of progressive/folk black metal (like Klabautamann, early Opeth or Ulver) could get a lot out of it. Some of the guitars lines in the heavier tracks are absurdly cool, though the ratio of hot to not licks is quite even, and they occasionally seem to aimlessly careen about the compositions without proper transitions and placement. Yeah, I didn't like much of the vocal work, and it's perhaps the least consistent album they've released to date, but regardless there is no question that Sorgeldom have ideas that might eventually elevate them to a position of great distinction.

Verdict: Win [7.25/10] (I wonder if the destination, will have me satisfied)

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