Keep those churches burning, here comes another Danish ensemble of pagans who are pining for a time when men were men and crosses were only used to impale priests. It might be a bit too obvious to cite ANGANTYR as a musical influence, but these guys have taken it one step further and have even recruited Ynleborgaz (also of MAKE A CHANGE... KILL YOURSELF, HOLMGANG, TÅGEFOLKET, and every other Danish Black Metal band) to fill in on bass for live shows. But disregarding that, how does VARDLOKKUR's debut full-length stand on its own?
As far as pagan Black Metal goes, these guys can pride themselves on being ahead of the curve. There is just the right amount of melody mixed in with the riffs to give most of the songs distinct traits, but without getting even remotely close to "happy metal". This is still pure Black Metal at its charred heart, with small doses of GRAVELAND-esque parts thrown in for variety. Treading the balance between brutality and atmosphere far too often results in the loss of consistence, but this is where VARDLOKKUR stand out with a blend that is neither overwrought nor too ambitious.
"Fragmenteret Okkult Bespottelse" bears the feeling of a band that has taken their time to hone their craft, and as a result it's very impressive for a first album. This is undoubtedly some of the best pagan Black Metal I've heard in a while, and fans of the more popular KAMPFAR should open their ears for a Danish invasion.
(Online March 5, 2009)