Are you one of those who like your Metal spiked with some "Viking" elements? If so, then today’s choice of review should be right up your alley. KAMPFAR may be a new name for many but let me assure you that they are far from being rookies in the Norwegian Metal scene. They started out as early as their more known Black Metal comrades like MAYHEM, BURZUM, DARK THRONE, etc and could therefore be called Metal vets. It would be wrong to compare the music of KAMPFAR with any of the aforementioned band as KAMPFAR's music is a tribute to the old Norse gods, rather than the rat below that the Christians brought with them into every country they managed to conquer.
"Mellom Skogkledde Aaser" starts with one of the most unnecessary intro's I've ever heard. Clocking in at 5 seconds makes me wonder why it didn't get baked into the first song instead. To get the complaining over it with I thought I should say something about the cover as well. "Mellom Skogkledde Aaser" translates to something like "Between Forest Draped Valleys", not 100% correct but close enough to get my point through. You see, the cover shows a picture of mountains glazed in snow and ice, not really what the title suggests. Now that I'm through with my complaints it's time to write why I think you should give "Mellom Skogkledde Aaser" a listen.
Once the intro is over and that's quick, "Baldogg" kicks in with some trademarked KAMPFARish Pagan Metal. The kick drum drives the song forward along with a bass that's a vital part of KAMPFAR's sound. The vocals are all done in Norwegian and they are done very well by Dolk who really puts his heart into the performance. Dolk’s vocal type can be called Black Metal, though he definitively has his own way of performing it. As always with a Metal album there are guitars found in the mix. Most of the riffs/harmonies/whatever could only be played by an individual hailing from a Nordic country, or that's what my prejudice says anyway. What I'm trying to say here is that KAMPFAR have a sound for themselves, the guitars doing all sorts of almost Folkish climpering, a special kind of tempo that's used quite often, the tempo at the start of "Baldogg" is the one I'm referring to. There are no blast beats to be found on "Mellom Skogkledde Aaser", in fact I don't think you'll find a blast beat if you listen through their whole discography.
"Balgalderkvad" starts out with some atmospheric sounds that are to be repeated later on in the song. As most things on this release, I've already mentioned the things that don't, it fits very good. It's a deep monotone tone that's being played over with something that sounds like a flute of some kind. Other sounds are also brought into the mix before the kick drum starts the Metal part of this song. And what a song it is. This is music that makes me want to headbang, just listen to the riff that is being played 2:46 out in the song, if that doesn't make you want to destroy something you shouldn't have been listening to Metal in the first place. minutes out in the song the atmospheric parts gets repeated, building up to another momentum.
My favourite song on "Mellom Skogkledde Aaser" is the one called "Bukkeferd". It starts out with some eerie sounds that I really can't specify, probably a sound made on the synthesizer. Some guys comes in screaming; Tor Hjelper, Tor Hjelper. That translates into; Thor Helps, Thor Helps and this one is 100% correct. As with all of the songs on "Mellom Skogkledde Aaser", "Bukkeferd" is a varied ride of Metal. KAMPFAR has the brains to vary enough to avoid any boredom without having to resort to something that doesn't blend into their style. On "Bukkeferd" small amounts of synthesizers/keyboards (What's the difference?) are used to enrich the atmosphere. This are done throughout the whole album, but as I said it's used sparsely and wisely. The reason why "Bukkeferd" is my favourite song on "Mellom Skogkledde Aaser" is because it's the song that makes me want to headbang most times. I for sure find some really nice breakdowns inviting every headbanger in for a neck roll and right now it's my opinion that matters.
Unlike the intro the outro is not worthless as it is a fitting closer to a very good album. It could be called an instrumental, though there are some shouting and screaming to be found.
Tired of Satan? Try this one. (Online July 15, 2005)