Norrsköld - Reflections of the Nightsky - (8/10)
Published on June 15, 2014
Last year in 2013, Norrsköld released their debut EP, Blessings of Winter, which offered some conjectural insight, in my opinion, as to where Sacrilege could’ve gone after The Fifth Season. Deeply mired in the Swedish (old) school tradition of melodeath, the type that melded abrasiveness with beautiful, technical riffs, but with a modern production to make it all squeaky clean, Norrsköld, in only six songs, brought the past back to the present, managing to snag a record deal with Rexius Records, to boot. The band’s follow-up, Reflections of the Nightsky, goes even further from the EP, taking a slightly modern spin on melodeath with new sweeping techniques that add a contemporary level of sophistication and a second foot planted in the modern era.
At the same time, however, it cannot be stressed enough how mechanical the whole thing sounds, which I can’t determine is good or bad. Don’t get me wrong, “Remnants of Reality” is a superb instrumental, surprisingly spanning quite a large metal girth, between bleak black metal riffs and something catchier, more carefree, which perhaps is why the Californian sterility of its death metal elements comes to mind every time the sweeping interjects itself between all this and the dominant melodic fretwork.
Elsewhere, and above all, though, Norrsköld continues to slay things, as the level of execution and technical adeptness is a cut above the rest, and the variety of riffs this time around is again in no short supply, inspired heavily by Dark Tranquility’s The Gallery, since it’s this industrious level of structuring that Norrsköld seems to fancy rather instinctively. It’s a bustling frontier, to say the least, with a canorous acuity that rivals that classic recording but with noticeably less grit in its teeth and a slowed down, more diverse pacing indicative of the band’s later career. It’s got a stronger black metal orientation, too, with Naglfar and Watain tendencies baring claws very frequently, as well as a folk homage to Mithotyn’s finest hour, which gives the album a very tight, interconnected direction within Swedish borders.
That direction, though, is unfortunately too short in duration; at only 33 minutes long, Reflections of the Nightsky, billed as a full-length, is closer in length to the preceding EP, which is the one glaring flaw of the album so one is left with the same yearning as before but without the promise of something more substantial later. While not a flaw of the music itself, it is a lasting impression I wasn’t expecting to have but one I’m sure the diligent Henrik Bodin-Sköld won’t let settle for long.