Reality - larger than mans illusions
or is it me? (DHG)
or is it me? (DHG)
FIRST LISTENING SESSION:
You just know when something belongs to the exceptional category.
How exactly exceptional is this release? Is it an album capable to transcend all temporal parameters? The instant goose-bumps and the uncomfortable sweet heartache are normally an unmistakable sign, but I shall sleep on this for a while…
SECOND LISTENING SESSION:
The bass hurts me.
The keyboards haunt me.
The guitar scalds my skin.
The harsh drumming bruises me.
The vocals unsettle me.
FURTHER LISTENING SESSIONS:
Aldrig Döden Minnas.. is the best track I have heard in decades. The keyboards are insanely eerie yet right in your face: never a ghostly entity has felt so tangible… But the throne is equally shared by all the elements of this architectural masterpiece of quintessential Nordic black metal. In turns, one moment I am blown away by a memorable guitar riff rising from the choral blaze to shred the soul into flakes of icy snow flakes; but then the feral iron fist of the contorted bass lines jumps out to grab me by the hair, dragging me deeper still in a silvery aural blizzard where the drums blast off imperviously like thunder. I feel lost… And alas, the powerful, unforgiving harshness in the voice seems to proclaim that even northern gods do not exist: death swallows all…
Allt är Åter ominously unravels, slowly and proudly, giving me a sense of stoicism borne out of trial and tragedy: to be at the mercy of Nature is as frightening as awe-inspiring.
Askormen: doomingly deranged, stabbed by grimly frightening blasts, its ghoulish melody stirs deep into the guts with snake-like regurgitations from that astounding bass; ominous spells spew from the mouth of the cursed… then a sudden (genius) solitary clean verse thrown in towards the end displaces me completely. Masterpiece.
Hinsides Dagen keeps pressing the fingers around my neck, bruising the already cyanotic skin. The erratic aural movements are arranged to perfection, from a glowing acoustic guitar passage that takes me to high-medieval times to the solemnly tormented Viking choir; but wait, the ghostly gathering stumbles into a schizophrenic jazzy break, suddenly sucked in into a crazy, fathomless dimension for a few instants of brain short circuit... Then it all reappears and the track spirals vertically into a jagged vortex; the vox is like that of a delirious prophet; the keyboards are frighteningly supernatural, while the titanic bass boulders through in the effort to keep a world swirling out of control anchored firmly to the ground, in vain: the whirlwind of otherworldliness eventually takes us away…
Tidlösa Vindar, gloriously juxtaposing acoustic depth to scalding blasts, takes you close to what it must be like to stand in the midst of a spectral storm - take these words literally. As the ominous spell descends upon me, the room transforms into an intricate white icy forest. I am beginning to wonder if this is actually real… A lesson on how to do powerful shuddersome epicness without a mere hint of redundancy! Grim despondency, realism and sobriety, as opposed to suicidal whining, provide a tremendous shot of testosterone, a rare thing in much of today’s weakling/fake (delete as appropriate) black metal.
Till Stilla Falla. The title track alone has enough ideas to fill up the entire discography of some uninspired bands that manage to get deals with aggressive labels churning out useless albums every two weeks. The musical story is bewitching: far more atmospheric than the previous tracks, Mr’s Pettersson’s melancholy mood prevails in the songwriting, bridging towards his De Arma’s sorrowful debut. Aside this track, overall the album has a Bergraven imprint that will excite many, albeit rewritten with a more spartan attitude, taming the ravenous beast of the avantgarde experimentation for the recuperation of the authentic spirit of black metal proudly howling from the Swedish shores…
OPEN CONCLUSION TO MY OWN TALE:
My early impressions are fully confirmed: this is a work of rare force, integrity and intellectual honesty and intelligence. One of the best black metal albums I have come across in recent times, one which refuses to play the trump cards of extreme lo-fi and overwhelming, decadent drama, choosing instead the higher path of balancing bleak despondency with stark sobriety. It reflects a smart, down-to-earth vikingness that rejects the lure of tempestuously romantic Wagnerian scenarios, digging deep in the face of a harsh environment, always a metaphor for death and the void beyond it. In spite of its unsettling ghostly eeriness, what captivates me about Stilla’s sound is a fierce sense of resolve and practical creativity stemming implicitly and inevitably from the constant fight against the elements, always on the edge of madness, always on the edge of survival... Ultimately the Swedes, throughout this bleak, honest, old-school approach imbued with an unmistakable avant feeling that pushes the work above the rest, stare at the ineluctable with a level of self-respect that, lamentably, is rarely encountered.
Till Stilla Falla will keep growing in time, eventually taking its full form when the lyrics will hopefully come forth to me: I am convinced it will be one of the few recent albums I shall go back to whenever I need to restore my faith in music!