Norwegian THUNDRA surely are not a band that are in one hell of a hurry to release their albums. “Ignored By Fear” is their third album since 1999 and to be honest, while I thoroughly enjoyed the first two and technically would have wanted to hear more, it is a nice change to see that they do not try to run their creative juices dry, but rather try to preserve the quality over a longer stretch.
Ever since their inception the band around former EINHERJER bassist Stein Sund refused to sound like the others, with a tasty concoction of Melodic Black Metal, some Viking and some Pagan Metal influences they took the chance to potentially have fans take a step back, because they were not as predictable as many of their contemporaries and on “III” this has not changed, while once again sounding a little different than before, so this is evolution as it should be.
THUNDRA always have been epic and varied, yet the ingredients are what they shuffle up every now and then to avoid getting repetitive, often within the same song. Opener “Inner Struggle” sets out slow-paced and epic, with this Nordic majesty that Scandinavian bands are so masterful to capture before the dual gruff vocals set in, complemented by the excellent clear voice of Steven Grindhaug, who still reminds me a little of Simen Hestnæs, while the song itself maintains this epic beauty with the keyboard often being the melody-bearing instrument, but without ever going into overload mode.
And the following tracks also take in elements from different genres and sub-genres, with the blastbeats of “Storm Within” (that in my opinion do not quite fit), which are embedded into a very varied track that goes all the way into PINK FLOYD-like passages and brings older BORKNAGAR’s modus operandi to mind (without ever sounding like them), no easy listening for sure... Then there is the epic grandeur of “Formed By Power” that starts out mighty frosty, but has the clear vocals spread throughout the track, the dreamy interludes next to a blastbeat outbreak of “Scarred”, the dynamics of “As I” or the strummed acoustic guitars in the middle of “The Gate”, so you can see that nothing is one-dimensional about THUNDRA, while it maintains the cohesion of an album instead of just being a string of different songs.
Aided by a strong production, “Ignored By Fear” is another gem in THUNDRA’s career, one that definitely is not easy listening and will demand attention and time to fully unfold its beauty, but if you are willing to invest the effort, you will be rewarded with an outstanding album by an outstanding band. So if you can look beyond the Sunday afternoon background music Metal of the trend hoppers, THUNDRA is a hot recommendation for you.
(Online August 24, 2010)