Tuesday, 29 September 2015

CD Review: SKOLL -" Grisera"- Review by Dave Wolff

Ewiges Eis
Skoll is a pagan/black/Viking metal act from Italy consisting of a sole member who plays each of the instruments. M the Bard started the band as Ragnarok in 1994, changed its name and began actively recording in 1996. Grisera is his third CD from 2013; his most recent outings are a 2014 compilation CD The Early Raw Days 1994-1996 and Through The Mountains Mist They Came, a split release he released with Spain’s Uruk-Hai this year. Grisera was limited to 500 copies so I don’t know if you can still acquire one at present; for information on this you’d have to contact the label. Although the four songs appearing here are of familiar territory, you can feel the devotion to ancient times and the sincerity with which it is celebrated. M has session musicians working on the material, including a keyboardist and violin player. One thing I can say makes this album a standout is the keyboards and violins are mixed just under the guitars, giving the songs an edge that works well with the raw production and somber guitars. There’s just enough atmosphere from this mixing job to present a profound mental picture. It’s as if you’re looking through an age-weathered window into a world that’s not dead at all but just as vital as it was way back when. Together with other moments of coldness and longing, it creates a contrast that elevates the music to near-monumental proportions. The title song for example is an excursion into all of these themes, with some impressive double bass percussion, moving into a quieter and more introspective section calling to mind what Satyricon was doing on Dark Medieval Times (still one of my favorite albums of theirs). This album gradually, relentlessly grows on you until you are fully convinced of their sincerity and want to hear more. Now that’s effective songwriting if ever was such a thing. -Dave Wolff

M: Instruments, vocals

1. Grush
2. Grisera
3. Hrothaharijaz
4. Wolves in the Mist
5. The Bard

CD Review: SKUGGAN Kejsaren Av Ett Svart Rike

Kejsaren Av Ett Svart Rike
Ewiges Eis
Kejsaren Av Ett Svart Rike is the Swedish black metal project’s debut CD released in 2013. Its sole member started composing and recording the year this CD was released. Earlier that year he released a single demo track; more information on this is limited. All I found when researching this on Encyclopedia Metallum was the song title; nothing about the amount of copies made, distribution or availability. His second and most recent effort Slottet I Ändlöst Mörker was released in 2014. Mostly this full length is standard black metal, dark and atmospheric with touches of Throne Of Ahaz and Burzum. The first cut opens without an intro preceding it or lead in with one instrument. The sound is well produced and clear, and the material would work if produced clearly or produced with a rawer mixing job. I found the guitar progressions leaning to simplistic while the drums pushed them forward. The blast sections appearing here kicked the material into overdrive, and there are just enough of them to make their point without overstating it. Keyboards and clean guitars contribute to the atmosphere at inopportune moments, existing to enhance the songs without trying to drown anything out. What especially held my attention were the lead vocals. I’m not sure what effects if any are added, but there is a horrific quality to his voice that doesn’t sound like it had been tried before. Some sort of looping effect, or something to make them sound recorded backwards? It seems like some trade secret but it works well and the effect is chilling and creepy. The cover artwork and sleeve photography help set the tone as effectively as an intro would have; pitch black, cold and snow-covered. -Dave Wolff

Skuggan: Instruments, vocals, lyrics

1. Graven i skogen
2. Mörkret inne
3. I djävulens skuggan
4. Fördömde till avgrunden
5. En nattlig kamp
6. Den mörka lågan (instrumental)
7. Trolltjärn
8. Jonsereds strömmar
9. Kejsaren av ett svart rike