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Norse (1993)

Ildjarn is a name that has come up a lot, whenever talking with someone that is deeply fond of the Norwegian bands from the '90s. For one reason or another, this project never really appealed to me. Every now and then, someone would let me hear a song, and I was never impressed. When I first picked up the debut full-length, just looking at the sheer number of tracks and the brevity of many left me with the feeling that most were likely incomplete or poorly written. One friend, in particular, kept pushing for me to give the band another chance, providing me with the Norse E.P. a couple years back.

Recorded and released in 1993, this would seem to be a rather safe listen. Few in the Norwegian scene had begun to stray too far from what black metal was supposed to be about, at this point. This seemed like a good place to try to begin with Ildjarn. So, knowing little more than that the main guy played in Thou Shalt Suffer with Ihsahn and Samoth, and that he was really bad at coming up with song titles, I gave this one last shot.

The music isn't so terrible. From the opening moments of "Mørklagt Sti", one can hear the typical sort of black metal sound that one would expect from a Norwegian band around this time, sharing surface similarities with Darkthrone and Burzum. The songwriting is rather primitive, with only the most basic variation. After the first song, you have pretty much heard what this recording has to offer. The other tracks do not offer much else. The riffs are rather boring and absent of any sort of dark feeling. In fact, there is no atmosphere present at all. This just comes off as pointless noise. The poor drum programming does not help this, either. Even the vocals are rather lifeless, sounding incredibly generic and not possessing an ounce of feeling.  

The sound is pretty bad, though not in a good way. An example of a poor production job that works well for the atmosphere of the music would be Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul by Mütiilation or Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger. This just sounds off, somehow. The guitars seem overpowered by the bass, lacking a sharp and cold feeling. The sound is more like an old punk rock demo than black metal. The Misfits sounded more menacing than this, over a decade earlier.

After failing to earn my interest, time and again, Norse represents my last attempt to give Ildjarn a chance. It has all of the elements that one would expect, yet it delivers nothing but boredom. Despite hailing from Norway and being released in 1993, this does not deserve to in any way be associated with recordings like Under A Funeral Moon, Det Som Engang Var or even A Sorcery Written in Blood. Avoid this.
(10 Jan. 2014)

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