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Kronet Til Konge (1995)
 

Dødheimsgard was yet another Norwegian Black Metal band to emerge in the mid-90s. They did not exist long before recording their first album, bypassing the demo phase and going straight to making a full-length. At this point, about all it took was for a band to hail from Norway and a record deal was almost guaranteed. In this case, the band had an even better shot since the bassist was none other than Fenriz, of Darkthrone. Released in January 1995, on Malicious Records, Kronet Til Konge provided yet another dose of Norwegian Black Metal, though the end result has often been rather overrated.

The album begins with a pointless intro, before "Å Slakte Gud" bursts forth from the speakers. All of the traditional elements are present, from the opening moments. The pace is quite intense, carried forward by blast beats and tremolo riffs. The drumming displays some variation, though not much. It would seem that Vicotnik was influenced by Fenriz a bit. Speaking of the latter, his bass lines are quite audible on this album and add a sense of gloom. Aldrahn's vocals are a little disappointing, as he sounds like he is simply shouting at times, with little harshness to his voice. The riffs are not terribly interesting, though there is a nice cold melody near the middle. Overall, this song is probably a couple minutes too long and would have been better off ending a little earlier. Still, it is not a bad track to start out with.

"En Krig å Seire" features a mid-paced riff and a sombre bass line, before picking up the pace. This song was my introduction to the band, hearing it on a college radio show many years ago, and was the impetus for my subsequent search. The pace alternates back and forth, with some adequate guitar riffs that come off as somewhat average, with a bit of Darkthrone influence. Again, this may be one of the problems with the album; due to Fenriz's involvement, there are inevitable comparisons to his primary band and Dødheimsgard simply does not match up well.

The next song is "Jesu Blod", which possesses a memorable tremolo riff near the beginning. The riffs that follow are not of the same high quality, but not bad either. Later on in the song, that first guitar melody re-emerges before leading to a slower section. It is very clear that this part of the track was of particular interest to the members of Watain, as one can hear its influence on albums such as Casus Luciferi.

"Midnattsskogens Sorte Kjerne" is where the album starts show real weakness It begins and ends with a clean guitar and spoken word part, which sounds far too neat for an album like this. For the most part, the album features a production job that maintains the underground Black Metal sound, somewhat raw but not poor by any means. The intro and outro do not fit in with the bulk of the song, which boasts several decent riffs, though they are not showcased as prominently as they should have been. In addition, the vocals become grating by this point.

"Kuldeblest Over Evig Isøde" is one of the best tracks on here, yet simplistic as well. The song is built around three riffs, with the first one being a fast tremolo-picked riff that does not reappear until the end of the song. The next riff is utilized to build a bit of tension, also allowing for some variation in the drumming, and then the middle section is a bit slower and gives off a lifeless feeling. The arrangement is not complicated at all and the only real complaint here is regarding the vocals.

The title track shows the band experimenting with the drumming, which ruins the song. The majority of the song sounds like Darkthrone-worship anyway, so not much is lost by simply moving on to the next one .

"Mournful, Yet and Forever" starts with another clean guitar passage that sounds completely out of place. This track sees the band attempting to expand their sound a bit and to utilize different rhythms and tempos, resulting in a mess. There are definitely some decent riffs to be found, but the drumming ruins it. These melodies called for a straightforward, minimalist approach and Vicotnik failed.

This is followed by "Når Vi Har Dolket Guds Hjerte", which is a rather solid track. It is average, but at least the band does not attempt to extend beyond their boundaries. The overall effect is kind of dull and one cannot help but think that a different vocalist would have been able to do wonders for this.

By the time "Starcave, Depths and Chained" arrives, listeners may be growing tired of the uninspired songwriting on display. Aside from Aldrahn's horrendous voice, the main problem is that the riffs are running together and none of them really stand out. It is less a matter of the material being bad and more that it just is not very good.

The final song here is "When Heavens End", which is another boring song that seems mediocre and does nothing to create any real atmosphere. It is just sort of there, which is the same thing that plagues much of this album.

Kronet Til Konge is a record that needed more work before being released. The songs are not terrible, but they are not great, either. The riffs show a lot of potential, and Fenriz does his best to add some depth to the music with his bass work. However, this material is lacking something in arrangement and execution. Perhaps, replacing Aldrahn with a better vocalist would have helped, but the album still would not have been anything more than average, without more time and effort put into it. Do not expect too much from this album.
 
(26 Oct. 2011)

 
 

Monumental Possession is the sophomore effort from Norway's Dødheimsgard. Released on Malicious Records in June 1996, just a year and a half after their debut album, this record is an entirely different beast and improves on just about every flaw that existed on Kronet Til Konge. The musical approach is more primitive and straightforward, while the vocal performance is shared between three different members. The average song length is a little shorter and there are fewer of them, as well. It is a mystery as to why this L.P. is the lesser-known of the two, as it is superior in all ways.

After a horrific intro, the album gets its proper start with "Utopia Running Scarlet", which demonstrates just how much the band had regressed by this point. The music is a mixture of the typical Norwegian Black Metal sound and old school Black / Thrash. Some of these riffs would not be out of place on an Aura Noir album. Vicotnik's vocals are done in a very grim manner, correcting the unpleasant job done on the band's first release.

"The Crystal Specter" is another slab of primitive Black Metal, with Aldrahn actually utilizing his voice in a way more suiting the material, this time around. This song features the standard tremolo riffing, along with Thrash / Speed riffs that really drive things forward. It all possesses a frenetic and hellish feeling, rather than the meandering style that the band so often fell into on their debut.

The next song has a rather ridiculous title, "The Bluebell Heart", but the music speaks for itself. Apollyon's vocals are the most impressive of the three, here. It starts out as a mid-paced affair, more in tune with old Celtic Frost, before speeding up. The Darkthrone influence is still present, even though Fenriz is no longer in the band, but it is worked into the song quite naturally and the transitions from one section to the next are smooth. There is an epic quality to the latter guitar melodies, emphasized by the more intense vocal delivery. Everything about this is done well and the band, obviously, knew exactly what they intended to do.

The title track is another one featuring Aldrahn's voice, which is much more tolerable in small doses. Some of the riffs are somewhat reminiscent of early Satyricon, in a subtle way. For the most part, this is a primitive and mid-paced track. The brief solo, around the middle, is a nice touch and should have been expanded upon.

"Fluency" is another Black / Thrash assault, tearing your face right off. Vicotnik's voice is evil and trollish in a sense, perfectly complimenting the atmosphere being created by the music. The pace is very intense and the onslaught seems as if it will only end with your untimely demise. Some of the double-bass could have been dropped, but it does little to affect the overall feel of the song.

"Angel Death" is another vicious song that rips right through you, proof that old school Thrash never died off, completely. The similarities to Aura Noir are too much to ignore, and it is safe to say that this would certainly appeal to the same people. The faster riffs are relentless, while the later Thrash riffs have an almost sentimental quality to them.

This is followed by a song that gives the impression of maintaining the same type of style as on the previous album, though it is also infused with some Thrash riffs. "Lost in Faces" features extended periods of tremolo riffs and blast beats, along with Vicotnik's sinister voice. The final moments almost come off as a cleaned-up version of what Mütiilation was trying to do, around the same time.

The final song, "The Ultimate Reflection", is the longest one yet only lasts six minutes. There are no annoying acoustic guitar intros, here. The bands just gets right to business, annihilating everything in their path. Apollyon's voice is evil as Hell, and the wicked guitar solos add to the overall atmosphere of burning in the fiery depths. As with the rest of the album, this track bludgeons the listener, mercilessly, leaving nothing behind but a charred and disfigured corpse. After a few minutes, the music passes and a worthless outro fills space for a few minutes.

Dødheimsgard did what Darkthrone did not yet have the courage to do, around this time. They made their sound even uglier and more primitive, regressing back to an older sound that better captured the feeling of raw evil and total death. Monumental Possession is an appropriate title as, for one release, the band was possessed by the ancient ones just long enough to create something that was a fitting tribute to the darkness of the past, before moving on to other interests. This is much better than Kronet Til Konge and is highly recommended.
 
(5 Nov. 2011)
















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