Sunday, September 4, 2011

Setherial - Nord (1996)

Released in 1996, Nord is the follow-up album to In the Nightside Eclipse. Unfortunately, it was released by Setherial and not Emperor. However, upon first listen, most listeners would hardly be able to tell a difference. Indeed, it would seem that these Swedes had their eye on the Norwegian Black Metal scene and could hardly take notice of the musical movement in their own country until a year or so later, when they decided to rip off Dark Funeral.

Musically, Nord is rather solid. Outside of the fact that songs like "In the Still of a Northern Fullmoon" and "Över Det Blodtäckta Nord" are much too long, the songwriting has little to complain about. In the case of the lengthier tracks, it simply comes down to the fact that, unless you are a musical genius, you should not be attempting to go past the nine or ten minute mark, lest you risk sounding too repetitious or convoluted. Everything here is standard fare for a Scandinavian Black Metal album from this period. The vocals, production, composition and overall atmosphere are exactly what one would expect. The sound is crisp and a little cold, while being dirty enough to keep an underground feeling. The bit of synth that is utilized is done somewhat tastefully, and it never really comes out of the background and dominates the sound, as many other bands allowed.

Really, there are no surprises on this record. While this can be good if you need another dose of this all-too-familiar sound, in order to help the real classics stand out all the more, it comes off as rather generic and uninspired. Of course, there are some good riffs to be found, but it has all been heard before, and there is also the knowledge that the band would not even stick to this style, instead opting to hop on a different bandwagon by the time they recorded their next full-length. While not being a total clone band, there just is not enough original thought or going on here to warrant any level of respect for Setherial. Had they mustered the energy to display some level of talent, beyond mimicking their favourite bands, perhaps things would be different. Pick up Nord only if you are desperate for a handful of throwaway tracks that would have fit nicely on In the Nightside Eclipse. Otherwise, just stick with higher quality bands and skip this.