Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dødheimsgard - Monumental Possession (1996)

Monumental Possession is the sophomore effort from Norway's Dødheimsgard. Released on Malicious Records in June 1996, just a year and a half after their debut album, this record is an entirely different beast and improves on just about every flaw that existed on Kronet Til Konge. The musical approach is more primitive and straightforward, while the vocal performance is shared between three different members. The average song length is a little shorter and there are fewer of them, as well. It is a mystery as to why this L.P. is the lesser-known of the two, as it is superior in all ways.

After a horrific intro, the album gets its proper start with "Utopia Running Scarlet", which demonstrates just how much the band had regressed by this point. The music is a mixture of the typical Norwegian Black Metal sound and old school Black / Thrash. Some of these riffs would not be out of place on an Aura Noir album. Vicotnik's vocals are done in a very grim manner, correcting the unpleasant job done on the band's first release.

"The Crystal Specter" is another slab of primitive Black Metal, with Aldrahn actually utilizing his voice in a way more suiting the material, this time around. This song features the standard tremolo riffing, along with Thrash / Speed riffs that really drive things forward. It all possesses a frenetic and hellish feeling, rather than the meandering style that the band so often fell into on their debut.

The next song has a rather ridiculous title, "The Bluebell Heart", but the music speaks for itself. Apollyon's vocals are the most impressive of the three, here. It starts out as a mid-paced affair, more in tune with old Celtic Frost, before speeding up. The Darkthrone influence is still present, even though Fenriz is no longer in the band, but it is worked into the song quite naturally and the transitions from one section to the next are smooth. There is an epic quality to the latter guitar melodies, emphasized by the more intense vocal delivery. Everything about this is done well and the band, obviously, knew exactly what they intended to do.

The title track is another one featuring Aldrahn's voice, which is much more tolerable in small doses. Some of the riffs are somewhat reminiscent of early Satyricon, in a subtle way. For the most part, this is a primitive and mid-paced track. The brief solo, around the middle, is a nice touch and should have been expanded upon.

"Fluency" is another Black / Thrash assault, tearing your face right off. Vicotnik's voice is evil and trollish in a sense, perfectly complimenting the atmosphere being created by the music. The pace is very intense and the onslaught seems as if it will only end with your untimely demise. Some of the double-bass could have been dropped, but it does little to affect the overall feel of the song.

"Angel Death" is another vicious song that rips right through you, proof that old school Thrash never died off, completely. The similarities to Aura Noir are too much to ignore, and it is safe to say that this would certainly appeal to the same people. The faster riffs are relentless, while the later Thrash riffs have an almost sentimental quality to them.

This is followed by a song that gives the impression of maintaining the same type of style as on the previous album, though it is also infused with some Thrash riffs. "Lost in Faces" features extended periods of tremolo riffs and blast beats, along with Vicotnik's sinister voice. The final moments almost come off as a cleaned-up version of what Mütiilation was trying to do, around the same time.

The final song, "The Ultimate Reflection", is the longest one yet only lasts six minutes. There are no annoying acoustic guitar intros, here. The bands just gets right to business, annihilating everything in their path. Apollyon's voice is evil as Hell, and the wicked guitar solos add to the overall atmosphere of burning in the fiery depths. As with the rest of the album, this track bludgeons the listener, mercilessly, leaving nothing behind but a charred and disfigured corpse. After a few minutes, the music passes and a worthless outro fills space for a few minutes.

Dødheimsgard did what Darkthrone did not yet have the courage to do, around this time. They made their sound even uglier and more primitive, regressing back to an older sound that better captured the feeling of raw evil and total death. Monumental Possession is an appropriate title as, for one release, the band was possessed by the ancient ones just long enough to create something that was a fitting tribute to the darkness of the past, before moving on to other interests. This is much better than Kronet Til Konge and is highly recommended.