To label Vintersorg
's debut album as a standard black metal album would be a great insult to a band that is versatile, musically talented and capable of playing any kind of music they dare. I say "they", though I wonder if I should just say he. After all, the man of the hour is Andreas "Mr. V" Hedlund himself. It has many of the elements that are so typical of the genre; low production, growling vocals, inverted tremolo picked power chords, etc. So why is this any different than Mayhem
or Vlad Tepes
The way in which the low quality of the album is arranged, first of all, is not typical with the standard stereotype of black metal. Rather than the whole mix being buzzing and filled with hiss, the guitars are, for the majority, dominated by hiss. However, there is just enough audibility for riffs and melodies (and even guitar solos) to be heard!
Secondly, we see in this album a continuation with what Mr. V had in mind with his previous band Otyg
: that is, combining the aggressive rawness of black metal and the epicness of folk music, with more emphasis on the folk than the black. Here we see exactly that: we hear plenty of acoustics, atmospherics, keyboards and Vintersorg
's clean singing baritones for the win! But kvlties shouldn't worry about this sounding too stylistic and skillful: there's plenty of growling to make you feel like this is still somewhat a black album.
So, what else is good about this album? While trying very hard to keep this from being a track-by-track, let us dive into Till Fjälls
. The first four tracks are a good way to start out this album: "Rundans" is a nice contrast between atmospherics, keyboard and acoustics with the semi-heavy guitars backed by V's clean singing. "För Kung Och Fosterland" explodes with all the energy and vibe of a black metal hit, complete with growling, blast-beats and tremolo picking. As the song progresses, we get a few licks of a guitar solo that eventually plays itself later on in the song and a little mid-passage that is the melody to Edvard Greig's "In the Hall of the Mountain
." "Vildmarkens" has just enough tension to sound black without growling, as well as showing off Vintersorg
's impressive vocal range even at this early stage. He is both singing with his baritone standard voice and reaching decent highs more reminiscent of Cosmic Genesis
", the title track, is perhaps everyone's favorite song from the Vintersorg
catalog. For the most part, it features inverted power-chords and keyboard passages with Vintersorg
's low key voice singing Swedish lyrics. Unlike most black metal songs, this one has a clear verse and chorus structure rather than just being several minutes of formless noise. There's plenty of chanting, and the chorus is truly hair-raising, proving that you don't have to be a Bruce Dickinson
"sound alike tenor" to raise the roof! But don't worry, there's enough growling to give this the strength you so desire. But then we have a nice acoustic/atmospheric passage that really flows well with the song. One can almost see the cawing crows flying "to the mountains."
To keep this from being a "track by track", we'll just focus on the tracks that stick out: though, to be perfectly honest, this whole album is a good one. "Hednad..." is a full keyboard track with no metal at all, just some nice chanting and singing by Vintersorg
. It's a nice respite from the bordering-on-repetitive black metal-style guitars and vocals (this album's one down-point, but not a down-point to the fans of old school black metal, which means that this album will capture the attention of even the kvlties). "Isjungfrun" follows the same style as the other songs - acoustics, low-fi guitars and chanting - but features guest singer Cia Hedmark, who also appears on the last track and several on Ödemarkens Son
, the next album. At the time, it was definitely a rare thing to see a woman in black metal, so this is definitely an attention-getter. "Asatider" is featured here because it features some of Vintersorg
's best baritone-only singing. Yes, it is a rare treat to see the low-register singers make their mark in the heavy metal scene, and that's why "Asatider" gets a deal of attention. Aside from his singing, this song also features that medal of guitarist excellence that black metal guitarists have conveniently avoided under the pretense that it is cliche: GUITAR SOLOS!!!
While repetitive at times, Till Fjälls
is still as viking as ever, as epic as ever, and as metal as ever. Getting a hold of it or a chance to listen to it should be a requirement for Viking Metal
fans, along with listening to Bathory
album. You will not be disappointed.