Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Flight Of Sleipnir - Essence Of Nine

More unfinished reviews from earlier this year coming right up!

The Flight Of Sleipnir's Essence Of Nine was amongst my favorite albums of 2011 and undoubtedly the best in their discography so far. Like Lore, this album contains all their hallmark sounds: fuzzed-out doom riffing, folk interludes and acoustic guitar accompaniment, harsh and clean vocals, and a stark Scandinavian atmosphere. 

Unlike Lore however, is a feeling of energy that pervades the entirety of Essence Of Nine. The album is still whimsical and dreamlike, but the more aggressive tracks like opener "Transcendence" and post-intro "Nine Worlds" are much more intense than most of the material on Lore. This works to The Flight Of Sleipnir's advantage as they carefully balance this out with dense, acoustically dominated tracks like "A Thousand Stones" and "As Cinders Burn (The Wake Of Dawn)." I'm entirely fine with the trade off and it gives the album more of an active listening appeal.

The mixing is of note in that the vocals, like they were on Lore, are mixed low and the fuzzy riffing rules over the rest of the instrumentation. David Csicsely's Snare still sounds nice and loud yet his whole kit sounds organic and fitting for The Flight Of Sleipnir's material. One thing that I did notice was the much louder bass tone. It rumbles and rattles beneath all the fuzz to give a stark low-end to each of the more, shall I say aggressive, tracks.

The folk atmosphere is strongest on here with the acoustics being played up, and as a whole the album feels more coherent than Lore for that reason. "The Serpent Ring" closes Essence Of Nine out nicely. If you haven't heard these guys yet you really should get around to it.

8.5 out of 10

1. Transcendence
2. Upon This Path We Tread
3. A Thousand Stones
4. As Ashes Rise (The Embrace Of Dusk)
5. Nine Worlds
6. The Seer In White
7. As Cinders Burn (The Wake Of Dawn)
8. The Serpent Ring


Friday, December 7, 2012

The Flight Of Sleipnir - Lore

More unfinished reviews. Get excited.

If I had to compare The Flight Of Sleipnir to any band, it would be early Bergtatt-era Ulver with plenty of stoner doom and very minor sludge elements. Their sophomore release Lore is much more interesting than Kvelertak's debut, but that might be because the more 'Americanized' stoner doom sound appeals to me more than half-baked hardcore and sludge sprinkled with black metal. These Colorado doomsters do incorporate the same ethereal folk elements you're used to hearing from Garm and gang into their sound. They even have the whole Scandinavian mythology thematic going for them too, although it is a bit less genuine than their sound.

Much to my surprise on Lore the folk elements and clean vocalwork are what stand out the most. The distorted guitarwork is mostly standard, mid-paced doom fare. The acoustic guitar interplay with the thicker, fuzzed-out chugging makes for a compelling atmosphere that the clean vocals compliment perfectly. I'm not sure whether drummer and guitarist David Csicsely or guitarist, bassist, and keyboardist Clayton Cushman is the primary clean singer, but they both have some coinciding lines and are both excellent at what they do. I know it's a rarity for me to appreciate clean vocals in metal, but The Flight Of Sleipnir keep it low-key enough to maintain their integrity. Then again the vocals are mixed low in general, but I don't mind. Keeps the music sounding distant, like the roaring of thunder in a great fjord.

More on that acoustic guitarwork -- it's beautiful in all the right ways. The acoustic segments are haunting yet not overly cheesy like The Mantle-era Agalloch, organic without sounding forced, and intricate enough to remain interesting. "Fenrisulfr" and "The End Begun" is their peak on the album, with the former being more haunting and the latter being more flowery. There's an abrupt change in tone with "No Man Will Spare Another," as the closing part is the most aggressive I've ever heard The Flight Of Sleipnir. There's even guttural lows hidden in the mix, although that might just be an effect added as a separate layer. The closer "Let Us Drink Till We Die" is aptly morose and melancholic and features female (backing?) vocals.

With a solid mix, great acoustic - electric interplay, and a more atmospheric take on stoner doom, The Flight Of Sleipnir's Lore is a great release. I wish the doom elements were more along the lines of those present on their third release, Essence Of Nine though.

7.5 out of 10

1. Legends
2. Of Words And Ravens
3. Asgardreid
4. Fenrisulfr
5. The End Begun
6. Black Swans
7. No Man Will Spare Another
8. Winter Nocturne
9. Let Us Drink Till We Die


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Kvelertak - Kvelertak

I need to get my shit together. This is 2013 and these are all old reviews I started back in 2012. I'll put them all under December 2012 since I didn't update at all during that timeframe and most of these albums are ancient news now.

I bet most of these will end up sounding half-assed. Let's do it anyway.

Kvelertak's self-titled debut has been out for awhile now and I listened to it back in 2010. It achieved popularity amongst the hipster hardcore crowd, in beardcore circles, and with people who legitimately still think Baroness is quality sludge. It also achieved critical and commercial success, going gold and receiving two Spellemann awards.  Kvelertak merge lite-crust elements into a bright sludgecore mold. Their style is often upbeat, rompous, and energetic. There's no Eyehategod or Acid Bath comparisons to be made here, and maybe that's what puts me off. The infectious riffing certainly doesn't.

These guys are masters at writing simple, catchy riff anthems. Singles "Mjød" and "Blodtørst" are both memorable, the latter for its chorus and the former for its anthemic pulse. They're both solid tracks, and along with "Fossegrim," which has a great solo, make up the best tracks on Kvelertak. In fact, if these tracks weren't on the album, it would be completely forgettable. The second half of the album is pretty unlikable. It's filled with frustrating intermittent cleans ("Ordsmedar av Rang") and the repetitious 'happy' riffing is downright irritating since it seems like you've heard the full breadth of Kvelertak's musical repertoire by that point. "Nekroskop" stands out a little bit because it has some black metal riffing in it at least.

The mixing and production job on Kvelertak's self-titled is alright -- fitting enough for the music. The problem for me comes in the form of style, and while it's hard to really fault the band for what they were going for, it certainly doesn't appeal to me on this album. The upbeat play is flowery and rather innocuous, and the lack of variation makes it annoying by the end of Kvelertak. Not bad if you like Baroness-style 'sludge' though.

6.0 out of 10

1. Ulvetid
2. Mjød
3. Fossegrim
4. Blodtørst
5. Offernatt
6. Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer)
7. Sultans Of Satan
8. Nekroskop
9. Liktorn
10. Ordsmedar av Rang
11. Utrydd dei Svake