Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Minneriket - Stjerner, speil og svartebøker... (2016)

Stjerner, speil og svartebøker... might not seem like such a far stretch from Vargtimen, as it still cultivates the noisy, cold black metal atmospheres of its predecessor, but it is at once more 'musical' and multi-dimensional, a slight warmth beginning to creep in at its corners, and production that is a stone's throw beyond where the project was already at. Even the cover art is a major improvement over the logo-only boredom of the debut, and if you felt like Minneriket wasn't structured enough before, I think Stein made a quick pivot to something more familiar to those seeking out a more traditional black metal, but don't think for a second that he abandoned his experimental ambitions.

Such are present with the second track here, "Vinterblot", which uses the drumming to create a cold, martial, marching beat that intersperses into the roiling, droning guitars and cruel rasp of its creator. The songs seem a lot more adventurous this time around, with elements that were not at the fore now arriving...for instance, the rumbling distorted bass in "Of Storms and Sorrows", which actually spits out some pretty catchy lines that are slathered with all these weird, broken beats, enigmatic industrial noises and such. "Jærtegn" is one of my favorites of these first two albums, it's got an unnerving sense of warmth and light to the floe of chords, and throws in everything from crackling storms, weird tones that sound like deep chimes or organs, and all manner of shimmering noisy guitars. Other cuts like "Totemkriger" take this atmospheric exploration and apply it into a more direct, blasting, warlike experience, and "How to Write Love in the Stars" (great title) adventures far further into pure ambient territory, which Stein really does excel at here...

So if you can't already tell, this effort is dramatically and artistically superior in just a year's time to where Minneriket had already been, and ample evidence that there might be some legs to stand upon, since there's really no limit to the sounds this guy is going to jackknife into your skull. The absolute-zero-temperature temperament of the debut was but a cold spark, where in this sophomore album the flames of imagination have bloomed, begun to consume the firewood and fill the hearth. Still creepy enough to freak you out, but then lays your head on a pillow and does its impression of a soothing before it starts stabbing you again. It's far from perfect, and who knows what the goal is with such an esoteric project, but it's clearly inspired.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10]

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