Skogen Kaller (Reissue)
posted on 12/2008 By:
Skogen Kaller is a reissue of the 2003 debut CD from Norway’s Massemord. Massemord seems to have gone through some line-up changes in the years following this release and at this point in time call Italy their home. In 2003, however, Massemord were based in the black metal wellspring of Bergen, Norway and led by one Lord Hastur Warmachine. The band, on this release, draws from a broad spectrum of Norse black metal influences, from the icy blasting of early Immortal to the epic sound of Bathory’s Viking period.
The opening track “Naar Solen Doer Bak Fjellet” displays the band’s tendency for chameleon like shifts of style, blasting out of the gate like a track from Panzer Division Marduk, but quickly slowing to a stately groove with some atmospheric keyboard embellishment, and then closing with some mellow acoustic guitar. “Solen Skinner Ikkje” begins similarly, but switches to a bouncy, folk-like melody in the middle section. “Eternal War” sounds strikingly like Immortal circa At the Heart of Winter. "I Have Sipped the Blood of Christ" has a death metal middle section wherein Lord Warmachine abandons his usual Abbath-like rasp for an impressive death growl. The fact that the band flirts chunkier riffs at other points in the recording and the presence of the full-on death metal bonus track “Nothing but Pain” lead me to believe that Massemord might have some death metal roots. In any case, some meatier riffing is a nice counter to the typical black metal tremolo picking. “Demon Storm” is a stomping groove based track that recalls the recent work of Satyricon. The album properly closes on a subdued note with the somber acoustic number “Soldnedgangen”. In addition to the aforementioned “Nothing But Pain” the album features the bonus tracks “Hekeldicht” and “Raintime Depression”. “Hekeldicht” sounds like it could have come from an Isengard album with Warmachine doing a dead on impersonation of Fenriz’s vocal style. The aptly titled “Raintime Depression” is perhaps the only fly in the ointment here, the track is a 2008 recording which features eighteen minutes and twenty two seconds of rain sound effects interspersed with some mournful black metal. This misstep aside, the balance of the album's fifteen tracks are no less diverse and equally enjoyable as those mentioned.
The production on Skogen Kaller is quite robust for a black metal album. The guitars retain the icy sheen typical of black metal, but possess an underlying heft that gives them a fuller sound than is common for the genre. Surprisingly, the programmed drums sound decent. The drums are necessarily a bit stiff, and fills are scarce, but they do not negatively impact listening enjoyment.
Massemord’s principal flaw is that they do not really bring anything new to the table. Even five years ago, at the time of this album’s original release, the material on Skogen Kaller was hardly groundbreaking. Originality is not everything however, and the band more than makes up for the lack with diversity and quality songwriting. Skogen Kaller would be a fine addition to any black metal fan’s collection.
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