Vinterriket / Northaunt
posted on 11/2005 By:
Call it what you will; dark wave, dark ambient, black ambient, new age, whatever, it’s a tough sale for most Metalheads. Personally, I think the genre can be interesting and fulfilling, if it’s done right. Projects by Nordvargr, or MNEM, for example, definitely have a place in my 'mood music' collection. I find it comforting to fall asleep to, or for winding down after listening to blistering Black Metal all day. Unfortunately, because of the seemingly simplistic nature behind the creation of such music, there’s a lot of bad stuff to sift through before one finds something they actually find interesting, or even worth listening to. Right now there’s probably a 14yr-old Norwegian kid trying to earn his 'underground chops' by sneaking sips of schnapps and piddling with a $50 Casio keyboard in his room. Quite tragic. Even more tragic is the fact that I could be swindled into buying said project if some tiny record company were to label it 'an underground-kult-ambient-black-metal masterpiece'.
Please pardon the diatribe, and let’s move on to the Vinterriket/Northaunt dark ambient project. Is this split worthy of the more adventurous Metalhead's hard earned cash? In my honest opinion, no. If you were to drop the Vinterriket half of the album and concentrate soley on the Northaunt material, I’d probably answer differently.
The four songs done by Vinterriket made me feel as though I was listening to my roommate's paused Final Fantasy game. Seriously. I think tracks 1, 3, 5, and 7 were intended to make one think of bleak, cold winters, instead they drifted through my head without much notice. Correction, I actually did notice track 3, “Am Brennenden Nordlichen Firmament”. The keyboards on this song are a bit more 'active' and sound exactly like something one would hear as they watch a storyline unfold in any number of Playstation RPG games.
Northaunt’s material is on a different level entirely. It’s hard for me to determine exactly why I found their contribution so much more compelling, but I can tell you I favored their songs before even knowing who was responsible for each track. “Until Dawn Do Us Part” definitely has an ‘impending doom’ feeling that’s missing entirely from the Vinterriket material. Maybe it’s the creepy bell noises, maybe it’s just a different formula, I really don’t know. Track 4, “Shadows Over The Barren Land”, is straight up spooky. It eventually floats into the sounds of a woman whimpering and crying, along with the angry shouts of some unknown man. Unsettling to say the least.
Overall, I’d say the Vinterriket/Northaunt split is exactly that...split. If you’re interested in this particular genre, the Northaunt creepiness might make it worth while, but if you’re just curious, i’d definitely do some more research.
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