Of The North
Grom Records 2012
Like a horde of frost giants crossing the arctic tundra, the riffs on the debut album from Danish black metallers Fjorsvartnir deliver freezing atmospheres and ancient moods. Epic and arcane emotions flow forth during the opening instrumental, Begyndelsen. Synth and sweeping melodies create a sense of yearning. Then the title-track pierces the stillness with savage barbs of black metal riffs. Clean guitars and melodic leads punctuate moments of somber reflection around the 1:30 mark. Violent swirling riffs with icy melodic leanings break the silence as the song continues. Similarities and parallels with Frost era Enslaved keeping arising within my mind. This is especially so during the gloomy melody that closes out the song. Chilling melodic passages gallop from out the darkness between periods of violence and speed on Levende Begraver. Moody, piano and clean guitar drift in like a frozen wind as the song progresses. This creates a dark, majestic quality to the song which is enhanced even further by the spoken vocals and synth at the 7:30 mark. Ominous, pounding drums rise up into a pagan beat accompanied by folky guitars as Nat Og Dag gets underway. Nice cymbal work is on display early during the track before the song really explodes into black metal maliciousness. Bestial riffs and a blasting beat burst forth before succumbing to sweeping nostalgic melodies. As with each of the previous songs, this track shifts between varying tempos and musical textures over the course of its nearly 9 minutes. True Elite takes the previous songwriting variances and compresses them into its shorter playing time. True Elite is the most violent and aggressive of the songs on the album as it alternates between blinding speed and midtempo, atmospheric segments. My one gripe about the album lies with the drum production. The bass drums are too clicky for my tastes, but they don't make the album unlistenable. If you miss the icy, pagan songwriting of the early 90s, and especially Frost era Enslaved then Fjorsvartnir does a mighty job recreating those moods and emotions.