Fans of vintage Norwegian Black Metal have been blessed with a triple dose of darkness lately, with TSJUDER, ISVIND and even the long lost STRID all reforming for another go. When TSJUDER called it quits back in ’07 I always expected them to get back together at some point, but I really didn’t foresee the reformation of ISVIND (with whom they’ve shared members). A firm favourite of the old school, ISVIND released the classic “Dark Waters Stir” in 1996 then promptly fell off the face of the planet. Some new material surfaced around 2004 (a promo/demo and a split with ORCRIST) before the band fell into another period of extended silence. Well, fifteen years after their landmark debut their sophomore effort is upon us and I’m nothing if not very excited.
Affirming the old adage of the more things change the more they stay the same, “Intet Lever” sounds like it could have been released just after “Dark Waters Stir”. Seriously, this thing is so resolutely old school sounding you’d swear it is 1996 all over again. Having said that, a word of warning though – “Intet Lever” is nowhere near as majestic and (subtly) melodic as its predecessor. Where the was firmly in that semi-melodic style found on very early DIMMU BORGIR and KVIST, this new album is a much more feral beast altogether. They’ve opted for a harsh, raw sound that is more in line with stuff like URGEHAL and early DARKTHRONE, so those expecting something similar to “Dark Waters Stir” might be slkightly disappointed with these new songs. The production is also bone dry and, in true old school style, very analog-sounding (think of the sound of ELECTRIC WIZARD’s “Witchcult Today”, but in a Black Metal context).
It must be said that “Intet Lever” is devoid of any individual stand-outs. The album is very consistent on a track-by-track basis, but individual highlights are hard to come by. An exception to this would have to be the epic closer “Himmefjell”, with its IMMORTAL meets AMON AMARTH rhythmic thrust. This one has such a triumphant cadence that I can’t see any metal fan not air-guitaring and moshing away in wild abandon to its greatness.
“Intet Lever” is not a modern day classic but it provides ample truth that these Norwegians haven’t lost a step over the years, and still have their hearts in the right place.
(Online March 15, 2012)