|Review: Sorgsvart - Vikingtid Og Anarki|
|Vikingtid Og Anarki|
Label: Einheit Produktionen
Year released: 2008
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: January 27, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
for:Vikingtid Og Anarki
Rated 4.25/5 (85%) (8 Votes)
Holy Fucking Shit. That is what I thought when the title track of Sorgsvart's Vikingtid Og Anarki roared out of my headphones and into my ears and seeped on in to my blood. In all honesty I feel under-qualified to review this album, as it is an amalgam of more or less every metal genre (except Doom Metal) and it is done with such a degree of excellence I can hardly take it all in. We have Traditional and Power Metal with their furious drumming and soaring guitar melodies, we have Black Metal with its harsh riffing and vicious vocals and we have a very healthy dose of Folk to tie it all together with a remarkable, uplifting theme.
So there you go, quite the intro hey? It's going to be hard to convey the general awesomeness of this album; I'll start by talking about the massively varied instrumentation where we have guitars, drums and keyboards, all expertly played and intertwined. We also have jaw harps, flutes and a glut of traditional Norwegian instruments, each expertly written into the songs and masterfully played. Sorg, the only member of Sorgsvart, plays all instruments and this really is a powerhouse display — nothing is half-assed and if there is a word like polymath for musicians, then Sorg is one. The production is superb; it is clean without being polished, and every instrument is clear and audible. The guitars have a harsh tone that is more in line with Thrash/Speed Metal than Black Metal, and the drums have a fat bass and sharp snare and roll around the tracks effortlessly. Each instrument is tracked wonderfully, never competing for space to breathe and never pushed to the back to be another bit part, each is placed to take advantage when it takes the fore and to not interfere when it is supporting the other instruments. The instrumentation does not display the virtuosity of Wintersun, but fuck, who needs virtuosity when presented with songwriting of this caliber?
Vocally Sorg provides as much diversity as he does instrumentally, from a sharp Black Metal rasp, through a rousing folk baritone to a soaring Power Metal clean (albeit not reaching the lofty heights of the better Power vocalists), he keeps each track interesting by changing between styles frequently as the music demands, and the melodies are so catchy you will be singing along on your first listen (well trying to anyway). The soaring vocal melodies and epic composition delivered as "Opp Kamerat" builds to its climax are just stunning.
Now I come to the songwriting — think of the diversity (and to some degree) style of Ásmegin but with a more focused approach, and properly stretched across 5, 10 or 15 minutes, rather than crammed into a bunch of two or three minute tracks. There is also a big Windir influence throughout Vikingtid Og Anarki (the instrumental "Trøst" could have been penned by Valfar himself), being much more a spiritual successor than Vreid are. Sorg effortlessly slips between vicious Black Metal riffing, soaring proud Power Metal, stirring Folk and beautiful acoustic instrumentation, normally all over the course of a single track, and at no stage does any of it feel forced or disjoint, even when the style changes abruptly. Each of these tracks is a lesson in Folk Metal — from the exquisite acoustic outro of the instrumental version title track, through the bombastic "Hedersman" with its oddly bouncy chorus, to the incredible and epic "Bleivikmaen ein Haglandsfaen", each track takes you on a journey though lands of ice and sun, of ancient warriors, of anger and hate, and of the beauty of nature. In fact, the 15 minute behemoth of "Bleivikmaen ein Haglandsfaen" serves to demonstrate this — it begins with a rolling tom based drum beat that heralds a two-step guitar riff before a folky keyboard almost jigs in over the top, followed by some strangely harsh humpa riffing before bursting into some excellent folk-style metal with clean vocals. Then we get some soaring vocals over a rolling drum beat with jaw harp accompaniment that sweeps into a series of wonderful Power Metal style guitar melodies and clean vocals before segueing into a faster Black Metal paced melodic riff with harsh vocals — and the track has only been going for 5 minutes so far! This track also exposes perhaps the only real flaw of the album — a very jarring and poorly done change around the 11:30 minute mark where one riff fades out and another fades in at its back, and then the same jarring change into a purely acoustic folk interlude. The changes are jarring, sounding largely like some left over sections that have been tacked on the end, and it is mainly for this reason there is no + after that 5 up the top.
The lyrics are all in Norwegian so I have no idea what is being said, but the diatribe in the CD booklet makes Sorgs distaste of authority and religion plain (and thus the theme of anarchy).
For fans of Folk Metal this is a no brainer, you simply must own this album, but given the very heavy folk influences you should probably pass if this is not your style. Power Metal fans will find much to enjoy here as well, as will Black Metal fans. Really, everyone reading this review should at least click the band website link and listen to a couple of tracks of this album (4 tracks of this album are available as mp3s), a lot of you will be discovering something magnificent, and that opportunity just doesn't present itself everyday.
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