Style: Folk/progressive metal
Release date: 2012-06-27
2. Ur Stjärnstoft Är Vi Komna
6. Havets Nåd
For those who know me, it is no big secret that I am a huge fan of mr. Andreas "Vintersorg" Hedlund and most of his bands. Apart from his main band Vintersorg, the only band that has ever given me such emotional feelings is Otyg - and what do you know - he's the man in charge there as well. In the late 90's and early 00's - Vintersorg released a trio of albums that hasn't been challenged since. Last years "Jordpuls" was a major improvement over those albums that came closely behind that one - even though they weren't bad at all. But with "Jordpuls", it felt that Andreas and his guitar-partner in crime, Mattias Marklund had once again fallen in love with those elements that started the V-universe all those years ago. And what do you know, with the announcement that new album "Orkan" (Hurricane) is the second album in a quartet of the four elements and the even bigger announcement that Otyg was brought back from the dead, it seems as though my suspicions were correct.
The album opens with the incredible "Istid" which immediately starts with an unmistakable Vintersorg-verse, albeit with a little bit more keyboards than we've been used to lately. And one cannot help but smile when one hears how smoothly the song bounces from a grim black metal outburst into a pop-chorus. Extremely effective! We're also given a great interlude with what sounds like orchestrated flutes in combination with soothing keyboards. This is one hell of an opener of an album and equally as good as last years opener "Världsalltets Fanfar" was.
After this somewhat classic-sounding Vintersorg track, we're greeted with a more experimental and prog-like midtempo song called "Ur Stjärnstoft Är Vi Komna". This is the kind of style that the band first explored on "Visions From The Spiral Generator" (2002) and later on "The Focusing Blur" (2004). I have no problem whatsoever with this sort of music, but when I think of Vintersorg - I am primarily thinking of the first MCD and three full-lengths. Also, if I were to compare this to the more proggish track from last year - "Stjärndyrkan" - this one is vastly superior. As I stated, not bad at all, but I know there will be stronger songs further into the album...
And what do you know!? The third track "Polarnatten" became an instant favorite due to it's amazing keyboards, fantastic verses - which includes both grim and clean vocals - intense guitars and then that son-of-a-bitch-chorus which gets stuck to your head like glue. It's easy to compare this song to last years' "Klippor och Skär" due to some similarities in both the chorus and the keyboards, but in comparison, the band managed to make the entire track on monster of a song.
The fourth song "Myren" begins with a wonderful soundscape that really sets a dark and sinister mood right away. You instantly know that this will be great and once the guitars start I felt a shiver all across my body the first time I heard it. The chorus is groovy as fuck and really gets my feet going. While this also is comparable to some elements from "Jordpuls" - there are also lots of vibes from "Ödemarkens Son" (1999), especially the little speech Mr Vintersorg gives halfway into the song. First time I heard it, I just smiled and thought of the last lines from "Månskensmän" from said album.
|Mattias & Mr. V|
The sixth track "Havets Nåd" is a little bit too much prog for my taste, but the symphonic elements in combination with a few black metal outbursts still give me lots of pleasure. Some of the guitar work between the verses and the chorus brings back memories from the bands back catalouge, but I can't really put my finger on exactly what and where. But that alone pleases me a lot and this song really grows on me after a while.
I remember how happy I was some while back when I heard that the band once more had invited Cia Hedmark (Otyg) to do some guest vocals for the first time since "Ödemarkens Son", because I've really missed her beautiful voice in Vintersorg. The song "Norrskenssyner" is an obvious nod to the classic "Norrskensdrömmar" from the bands first offering - the MCD "Hedniskhjärtad" (1998).
The song is built up quite like it's predecessor, without any real chorus - just soothing verses which are abruptly interrupted by small black metal-outbursts. Effective as hell! The dueling-song between Andreas and Cia is a joy for the ears and it almost feels a bit spooky in a way.
The last song is called "Urvädersfången" and due to it's soothing atmosphere and acoustic guitars, I was sure that this was another Vintersorg-ballad, just like the band has done on every album since "Cosmic Genesis" (2000). But it's actually not a ballad at all, the drumming and keyboards adds more aggression to the song and then there's suddenly electric guitars and grim vocals all over the place, until that abruptly stops and it's all quiet and slow again. Impressive change of dynamics in the song. My only complaint is that the song is a tad too long for it's own good, but that is just a minor complaint.
All in all, it seems like Mr. Vintersorg took the best parts from it's predecessor "Jordpuls" and some works from the past - including some nods to the incredible "Ödemarkens son" - mixed it with some new symphonic elements and churned out the best goddamned songs he had up his sleeve. An interesting thing that I've noticed is that this is the first Vintersorg-album ever (and correct me if I'm wrong) that has grim vocals on each and every song on the album. This makes the entire album have a quite sinister and cold atmosphere which fits the overall "concept" like a glove.
"Orkan" is of course a strong contestant for the best record of the year and I'll be damn surprised if that's not the case. I haven't heard the band sound this fresh and vital in a long time and even though I've always loved every single one of their albums - this is actually the first time that I feel a new album is up par with the first two classic albums.