SUIDAKRA were a bit enigmatic on their first studio offering, which was a somewhat flawed, but nonetheless impressive independent effort that attempted to bridge the divide between Black Metal and Melodeath. While the results were somewhat akin to a splicing of different genre ideas together and come off a bit meandering at times, it definitely offered a taste of what would come later, which was a much more epic and stylistically harmonious sound. This sense of a varied assortment of extreme and melodic Metal ideas became much clearer by 1998 when a union was formed with Last Episode for distribution, but the cult characteristics of the debut were still largely present by this point.
“Auld Lang Syne” sits somewhere between ENSLAVED’s “Eld” and AMON AMARTH’s “The Avenger” in its blend of melodic contour and Blackened Folksy sentiments. The obvious theme is the now commonplace one of Viking/Celtic lore and mythology, which was not unheard of at this point but still much fresher off the press of late 80s BATHORY than it is today. The production is still noticeably humble and lo-fi, while the content has taken a substantial leap forward in consistency of application. The disjointed jumps between GORGOROTH and DARK TRANQUILLITY emulations have been reconciled into something much more unified, though still playing off of influences of both. The balladry and female vocal work has likewise been scaled back and better organized to keep things balanced and consistent.
It’s a really overused cliché, but SUIDAKRA put forth something that can be viewed as mature sounding. The songs on here are presented in an ambitious, yet simple manner, making for an album that can play to a general audience more easily. Longer and ambitious numbers in “Hall Of Takes”, “And Another Cist Looms” and “Enticing Slumber” show a multifaceted but very formulaic approach of blending acoustic music, textbook Melodeath riffing with an occasional hint of late 80s Thrash, and Blackened vocalizations together. The clean vocal work and keyboard usage is much more tastefully employed, and the guitar solo breaks are much more consistent and stick to a straight up approach rather than attempting to merge speed licks with implicit Folk tunes.
Ultimately what makes this album superior to its predecessor is a better sense of direction, as well as a deliberate distancing away from the cult tendencies of the second wave, which at this point was starting to get a little stale and overdone anyway. While still keeping the influences of said Scandinavian bands present in a subtle way, “Auld Lang Syne” could be more easily associated with a technical and progressive variant of Melodeath that is a bit more enthralling than the highly repetitious counterpart found in most Gothenburg outfits. It’s a good album and deserves more of an audience, perhaps even as much as that of EQUILIBRIUM.
(Online January 31, 2012)