Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dødheimsgard - Kronet Til Konge (1995)

Dødheimsgard was yet another Norwegian Black Metal band to emerge in the mid-90s. They did not exist long before recording their first album, bypassing the demo phase and going straight to making a full-length. At this point, about all it took was for a band to hail from Norway and a record deal was almost guaranteed. In this case, the band had an even better shot since the bassist was none other than Fenriz, of Darkthrone. Released in January 1995, on Malicious Records, Kronet Til Konge provided yet another dose of Norwegian Black Metal, though the end result has often been rather overrated.

The album begins with a pointless intro, before "Å Slakte Gud" bursts forth from the speakers. All of the traditional elements are present, from the opening moments. The pace is quite intense, carried forward by blast beats and tremolo riffs. The drumming displays some variation, though not much. It would seem that Vicotnik was influenced by Fenriz a bit. Speaking of the latter, his bass lines are quite audible on this album and add a sense of gloom. Aldrahn's vocals are a little disappointing, as he sounds like he is simply shouting at times, with little harshness to his voice. The riffs are not terribly interesting, though there is a nice cold melody near the middle. Overall, this song is probably a couple minutes too long and would have been better off ending a little earlier. Still, it is not a bad track to start out with.

"En Krig å Seire" features a mid-paced riff and a sombre bass line, before picking up the pace. This song was my introduction to the band, hearing it on a college radio show many years ago, and was the impetus for my subsequent search. The pace alternates back and forth, with some adequate guitar riffs that come off as somewhat average, with a bit of Darkthrone influence. Again, this may be one of the problems with the album; due to Fenriz's involvement, there are inevitable comparisons to his primary band and Dødheimsgard simply does not match up well.

The next song is "Jesu Blod", which possesses a memorable tremolo riff near the beginning. The riffs that follow are not of the same high quality, but not bad either. Later on in the song, that first guitar melody re-emerges before leading to a slower section. It is very clear that this part of the track was of particular interest to the members of Watain, as one can hear its influence on albums such as Casus Luciferi.

"Midnattsskogens Sorte Kjerne" is where the album starts show real weakness It begins and ends with a clean guitar and spoken word part, which sounds far too neat for an album like this. For the most part, the album features a production job that maintains the underground Black Metal sound, somewhat raw but not poor by any means. The intro and outro do not fit in with the bulk of the song, which boasts several decent riffs, though they are not showcased as prominently as they should have been. In addition, the vocals become grating by this point.

"Kuldeblest Over Evig Isøde" is one of the best tracks on here, yet simplistic as well. The song is built around three riffs, with the first one being a fast tremolo-picked riff that does not reappear until the end of the song. The next riff is utilized to build a bit of tension, also allowing for some variation in the drumming, and then the middle section is a bit slower and gives off a lifeless feeling. The arrangement is not complicated at all and the only real complaint here is regarding the vocals.

The title track shows the band experimenting with the drumming, which ruins the song. The majority of the song sounds like Darkthrone-worship anyway, so not much is lost by simply moving on to the next one .

"Mournful, Yet and Forever" starts with another clean guitar passage that sounds completely out of place. This track sees the band attempting to expand their sound a bit and to utilize different rhythms and tempos, resulting in a mess. There are definitely some decent riffs to be found, but the drumming ruins it. These melodies called for a straightforward, minimalist approach and Vicotnik failed.

This is followed by "Når Vi Har Dolket Guds Hjerte", which is a rather solid track. It is average, but at least the band does not attempt to extend beyond their boundaries. The overall effect is kind of dull and one cannot help but think that a different vocalist would have been able to do wonders for this.

By the time "Starcave, Depths and Chained" arrives, listeners may be growing tired of the uninspired songwriting on display. Aside from Aldrahn's horrendous voice, the main problem is that the riffs are running together and none of them really stand out. It is less a matter of the material being bad and more that it just is not very good.

The final song here is "When Heavens End", which is another boring song that seems mediocre and does nothing to create any real atmosphere. It is just sort of there, which is the same thing that plagues much of this album.

Kronet Til Konge is a record that needed more work before being released. The songs are not terrible, but they are not great, either. The riffs show a lot of potential, and Fenriz does his best to add some depth to the music with his bass work. However, this material is lacking something in arrangement and execution. Perhaps, replacing Aldrahn with a better vocalist would have helped, but the album still would not have been anything more than average, without more time and effort put into it. Do not expect too much from this album.