Shades of Misery
Indie Recordings 2007
Iskald is a new Norwegian black metal band that takes frozen black metal and adds elements of more traditional melodic heavy metal and the occasional doomy passages and adds them to their glacial brand of Nordic heathenism on their debut full length album, Shades of Misery. I think that Shades of Misery’s strength lies in its use of blasting black metal that recalls hints of the gory days of the Norwegian scene though it never manages to create the same atmosphere or “magic” as some of Iskald’s contemporaries such as Lja and Throne of Katarsis. They also try and change up the riffing so much in the songs that the strongest riffs seldom get reused and I sometimes get the feeling of listening to an endless stream of sewn together riffs rather than true coherent songs. But there are still memorable songs within Iskald’s arsenal such as the sweeping Lokes Dans which starts out with a softened keyboard intro which is then assailed by a flurry of frigid black metal riffs and then contorts to some rocking black metal somewhat reminiscent of later Immortal which gallops along at a mandatory fist banging pace. And their melodic riffing skills are an equal to some of their Gothenburg peers which is instantly noticeable throughout a track like Da Gjallarhorn Song. Iskald though solid never really lifts themselves out of the realm of average music as nothing they do really separates themselves from the plethora of other black metal bands rising from the sea of the extreme music scene. The production on Shades of Misery is crisp and razor sharp but somehow I feel it leaves the songs a little too cold and lifeless. Simon Larson’s vocals are as hard as stone and suit the music of Iskald quite well. The best description musical reference I can use to describe Iskald is a combination of Sons of Northern Darkness era Immortal and the pagan metal of Kampfar, though Iskald never truly reaches the heights of either of those bands. Iskald is another solid though unremarkable black metal band to claim Norway as home. Hopefully on their next album their music will have a stronger sense of personality and identity that reflects positively on the legacy of their homeland.