Originally, after a few listens, I had written this off as nought more than a poor imitation of the BURZUM and early GRAVELAND material. However, increasingly the material has taken a hold on me and it finally seems as if the fog has lifted and the magic shines out anew.
The sound more than anything is off putting, for it is buried in an incredibly gentle volume, with only the drums having any real effect. This in itself is bad because it highlights the false, programmed nature of them far too much. Yet, all is not lost, for with repeated listens to sheer splendour of the simplistic BURZUM melodies surfaces and thrusts the material up, close to the level of greatness.
The strangest thing is that it is only when you listen to this at the dead of night, with the volume turned down low to avoid the disaster of waking the grumpy household, that the true nature of the album surfaces. In its ambience, it is shrouded in darkness and its slightly industrial and militant nature equates it to the unknown. Every quiet melody and strong keyboard chord, coupled with menacing mid-tempo deviations, gives this album the perfect stalker-like poise.
The melodies themselves are clearly miserable, yet at other times imposing. Nonetheless, it is the BURZUM style riffing, found on their self-titled album, that really gives the strong feeling of intimidation to the overall atmosphere. Again, at this volume, everything seems strangely “right,” not perfect, just “right.” The mix of the guitars and indeed the guitar sound, is perfect. The flat and detached, yet spite-filled, vocals are somewhat unique and add much to the nature of the sound.
The number one complaint I have, aside from the volume, is that there is a grand presence to some of the better riffing that demands more thrust, the fantastic, keyboard-driven, melodies of the later section of “Lasselanta” being a prime example. Speaking of atmosphere, the two keyboard instrumental pieces “Message from the Gods” and “Illusions” are fantastic compositions that show the ability of the band to create perfect epic and dark tones. Fantastic stuff, much more than the usual generic, “filler,” tripe.
While I’ll admit that this is far from perfect, the achievement of creating genuinely engaging Black Metal, that is both distinct and obvious in its influences, is not something to be taken lightly. (Online January 30, 2006)