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Friday, January 03, 2014

Bleak, beautiful textures from Iskald on Nedem Og Nord

MELODIC death metal - groans all round already when those words are uttered. Images of overly serious corpse painted types, triply complicated structures etc etc. And when it is Norwegian Melodic Death Metal....

But Iskald have gone beyond the clichés and the ridiculous copyists on Nedem Og Nord, producing an album of depth and ferocity that is more notable for its textures and icy lyrical and musical rhetoric than many of similar ilk.

Perhaps it is the subject matter - the Arctic wastes of Norways Nordland. Perhaps it is the attitude that produces no mere short snaps of music - the shortest track, opener A Fading Horizon, clocks in at seven minutes and four seconds.

Whatever the reason Iskald's fourth full release has helped the band evolve beyond previous releases towards an album that feels like a complete epic rather than bits and pieces .

Half of the six tracks lyrics are in Norwegian, half in English, but neither approach dims the fierce cold light shone upon a landscape with weirdly aurora borealis and days in darkness or full light.

Self-titled track, Iskald is a revelatory song, changing pace and tone in just the right amounts, while the 10-minute plus closer - Nedem Og Nord - is truly a black metal epic.

The band is the brainchild of Simon Larsen and Aage Krekling. And with more than two years passing since their last release, The Sun I Carried Alone, Krekling is well aware of the effort that it took to get Nedem Og Nord.

"It has been a long and hard working process to get this record realised," he said. "But in the end it turned out as we hoped for. We are extremely satisfied with 'Nedem Og Nord' and believe it is our best album to date.

Iskald's Simon Larsen and
Aage Krekling
"After the last album we talked about trying something new, both music and production wise. We wanted to focus more on feeling and mood in our songs, without losing our defined expression, We did not focus too much on the technical elements and wrote longer and more atmospheric songs."

It is that atmosphere that really comes through on Nedem Og Nord's six tracks. On first listen ears perk up to the dynamics, but on further plays it is easy to get caught in the dense soundscapes, which really do conjure up the ethos of the people and the culture of Nordland.

Krekling explained: "I believe these six tracks contain more soul and character than before. At the same time the songs can be described as more complex and studied."

However 'studied' they may be there is no sense of a pre-ordained path; if anything this is an organic listen. Well worth a listen.

Nedem Og Nord is released worldwide on Indie Recordings on January 13th.

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