Indie Recordings: Kampfar + Iskald + Woland

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Indie Recordings LogoReview by Jason Guest

Norway’s Indie Recordings has got a bunch of great bands on the label, a few of which we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing here at Midlands Rocks. And today we have three more releases from this great label. From Norse Pagan Folklore metallers Kampfar comes their sixth album, Djevelmakt; melodic black metal bunch Iskald return with album number four, Nedom og Nord; and with their debut, Hyperion, comes Finland’s post black metal band Woland. Hey ho, let’s go…


Kampfar – Djevelmakt

Twenty years in and with five great albums to their name, with number six, Djevelmakt, Kampfar remain as consistent and as potent as they ever were, and then some. Dark, sinister, and dense with a haunting air, the fifteen-second leaden piano that opens ‘Mylder’ tells you everything about album. Where another band would have milked it for at least another minute, Kampfar move rapidly and get straight into it. What follows is an album that is as focussed as it is intense and as balanced as it is accomplished.

With live guitarist Ole Hartvigsen now a fully-fledge member of the band, his presence has  had a significant effect on the writing, as if Kampfar have not only added to their creative resources but discovered new depths within them. Of course, the band’s essence remains but there’s a fire within the tracks that is tangible – most noticeably in the outstanding ‘Swarm Norvegicus’ – a factor augmented by the rough-edged production that compounds the album’s heaviness. ‘Kujon’s dense stomp, dragging melodies, intricate structure and heavy atmospherics are nothing less than astounding. The piano re-emerging with ‘Fortapelse’ for a suitably dark intro, its presence is felt throughout the track continues to unfold. And closing track ‘Our Hounds, Our Legion’ is vast, its eight minutes brimming with the best the band has to offer, ever.

What is most obvious about Djevelmakt is that the whole band is working for the good of each track and so the album has a depth to it that 2011’s Mares almost but didn’t quite achieve. Hartvigsen’s presence has brought to light something within the band and they are all the better for it. If you were under the impression that Kampfar’s consistency suggested that the band would soon plateau or perhaps run aground, Djevelmakt is proof that you were wrong. Twenty years in and we should expect nothing less.

Kampfar 20148 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Mylder
  2. Kujon
  3. Blod, Eger Og Galle
  4. Swarm Norvegicus
  5. Fortapelse
  6. De Dødes Fane
  7. Svarte Sjelers Salme
  8. Our Hounds, Our Legion

 


Iskald – Nedom og Nord

Two years in the making and album number four from Norwegian duo Iskald is upon us. Between seven and ten and a half minutes, the six tracks here see the band displaying the full spectrum of their compositional and technical capabilities in tribute to the northern parts of Norway. And a fine tribute it is too.

Darkness descends with ‘A Fading Horizon’, the icy opening passage calling forth a cavalcade of intricate riffs and arctic atmospherics in a structurally complex track that plots an intriguing arc throughout. While this opening track alone is impressive enough, both ‘Underworldly’ and the self-titled ‘Iskald’ painting broad vistas whilst further honouring the people and surroundings of their homeland. But by now, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s to come with the remaining three tracks. ‘The Silence’ and ‘Nidingsdåd’ may both be good tracks but they do for the most part reiterate what’s been heard already. The quality is there but there’s the feeling that some editing wouldn’t have gone amiss. Like a lot of albums that take on such a mammoth task, it’s the last track where Iskald nail it. Where the other five tracks are striking enough, here they manage to harness what the other tracks approach and oft times offer the occasional glimmer of. Epic, grandiose, and intricately detailed, what’s apparent with Nedom og Nord is that while Iskald aren’t breaking any new ground, their homage to their homeland is echoed in their music and makes Nedom og Nord a solid piece of work. Recommended.

Iskald - Nedom og Nord7 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. A Fading Horizon
  2. Underworldly
  3. Iskald
  4. The Silence
  5. Nidingsdåd
  6. Nedom Og Nord

 


Woland – Hyperion

Formed in 2010, Finnish post-black metal band Woland’s debut full length, Hyperion, is an impressive piece of work, to say the least. From the dark intro of ‘Conquer All’ through to triumphant coda of ‘Elevated Existence’, the album charts an always-intriguing journey. What’s immediately apparent is that the band has spent a long time putting it together, working and re-working tracks to iron out any creases to produce a refined and polished album.

In terms of musicianship, the band is a tight and focussed unit. No doubt having their own studio has allowed this quartet the time and space to hone their craft, develop their identity, and work towards the common goal of musical expression. The band claims that while others “crawl in the mud and idolise the past”, Woland “gazes to the future”, and they are right, partly. Such claims usually reek of style over substance, particularly as they boil down to a pseudo-intellectualised version of the same macho posturing they wish to avoid. While a powerful album that’s moving at times and thought-provoking at others, like most albums developed in the studio, there are times when it can be too convoluted for its own good, ‘None’ and ‘Live Forever’ – both good tracks – being prime examples. But to focus on these minor flaws would be to miss the album’s accomplishments, of which there are many.

Adept musicians with a distinct ear for melody, a keen sense of dynamic control, of intelligent arrangement, and a clear ability to balance it across complex structures, Woland have delivered a remarkable debut. There’s more than enough here to not just keep the listener hooked but to keep them coming back for repeat plays and wanting more from the band. A very good start to what should be a great future.

Woland - Hyperion7 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Conquer All
  2. Art Of Ascension
  3. Living Water
  4. None
  5. Extacy And Rapture
  6. Honey In The Lion
  7. Live Forever
  8. Elevated Existence