Thursday, November 3, 2011

Armagedda - Ond Spiritism: Djæfvulens Skalder (2004)

Ond Spiritism: Djæfvulens Skalder is the third, and final, full-length album from Armagedda, released in 2004 on Agonia Records. Though their work was still showing overt influences from others, the band seemed to find their path with the previous album, Only True Believers. However, their third album is a little less consistent and gives off the impression that they had just discovered Bethlehem, as well as getting better acquainted with the old Burzum albums. Getting bored with playing Black Metal and seeking to move on to something else, A. and Graav decided to lay the band to rest after this recording, which proved to be somewhat lackluster.

"Helvetestoner" begins with a clean guitar passage that lasts far too long and does not fit in well with the rest. Once the track really gets going, things seem a little more interesting. The morbid riffs are accompanied by the chiming of a funeral bell. This seems to pick up from where "Endless Fields of Sorrow" left off, opting for a slower approach and a more dismal atmosphere. The production is quite similar, though a little more cleaned-up, perhaps. Graav's vocals have continued to develop, utilizing a sound that moves between a raspy growl and the strained voice of a human in pain. The riffs are not the best, but do a decent job of conveying the desired feeling. There is a mournful melody that arrives late in the song, adding a bit of depth to the track.

The next song starts out in a manner similar to the first, which is a bit annoying. Whatever they were trying to accomplish should have been re-worked. "Döpt I oheligt vatten" takes a minute or so to really get underway, though the listener's patience may run thin by that point. There is an eerie, otherworldly vibe present here, due to the clean guitar parts that accompany the main riffs. It sounds out of place and, though one can tell that they had something interesting in mind, the execution of the idea was not successful. This track seems more reminiscent of the band's first effort, The Final War Approaching, as it is boring and comes off as haphazard and uninspired.

"Afsked" skips the nonsense and gets right to the point. Unfortunately, the riffs are mediocre and the song falls flat. Some blast beats are utilized near the end, but even this part is ruined by the ridiculous clean voice. It would not have matter much, anyway, as the riffs are generic and pointless.

"Ændalykt" is the longest song here, clocking in at nine and a half minutes. The pace is a bit faster and the riffs actually possess a gloomy feeling. The pace increases as the track progresses, and the riffs maintain the same dismal and morose atmosphere, with everything falling into place, finally. Some of the melodies remind of Darkthrone, but not in such an obvious way. The drumming helps differentiate it, also, and the fact that the double bass is buried deep in the mix prevents the song from sounding terribly modern. Later in the track, the guitar melody is left alone, more or less, and this adds to the sombre vibe. While this song can seem a little repetitious, at times, this works to the its benefit and enables the riffs to really work into the subconscious of the listener. Things slow down, near the end, and the guitar riffs rip into your chest. A feeling of lifelessness creeps over you, threatening to strangle the last bits of hope that you possess.

The track that follows, "Döden styr livet", is another boring piece that further exemplifies the great departure from the previous album, in terms of style and quality. As the record continues, it becomes more and more clear why the members decided to put an end to the band.

"Gravgaardspsalm" is an instrumental that would have worked better had the last song been cut from the album. It features some eerie guitar work and the sound of falling rain, but not much else.

"Afgrundsvisioner" is one of the best songs on this album; i.e. one of only two or three that are worth listening to. It starts out with fast tremolo riffs, blasting drums and grim vocals that all hearken back to the early days of Darkthrone, before the pace slows a bit and the Burzum influence takes over. This song actually features a good amount of variation in tempo and the different riffs all flow together nicely. The atmosphere is morbid and gloomy, though not sorrowful as some of the other tracks attempt.

As for the outro, it serves no purpose and is merely there to fill space. It is annoying that so many bands feel the need to include intro and outro tracks that do absolutely nothing, as if they are simply fulfilling some obligation.

Ond Spiritism: Djæfvulens Skalder is a weak album and should be neglected in favour of Only True Believers. This would have been better if it had this been reduced to only three tracks and released as an E.P. Do not be fooled into thinking this is anything more than a mediocre attempt at seeming different and progressive, when it really just points to the creative bankruptcy of the band members and the fact that they both preferred to be playing folk rock.