were among the pioneers of the second wave of black metal era in the early nineties. Which was distinctive from the first wave, with increased influences in the death metal, crust and punk genres. But through the course of time, they have been liberal composers who have capitalized on other genres of extreme metal. Their twenty thirteen effort, The Underground Resistance
, rocked out mediocre. It was a capricious mix of cheesy pagan metal and a rough strain of thrash black. Then the twenty sixteen album, Arctic Thunder
, was notably darker and more melodic. It had a lot of menacing doom styled compositions, intermingled with some ornamental heavy metal textures. Old Star
is their eighteenth studio release, in the twenty eight year span of time since their ninety one debut album. Which shows that they are a hard working band, albeit not firmly committed to the black metal that brought their fame.
The first song, I Muffle Your Inner Choir, abruptly jumps into speedy riffs that chop out an upbeat rhythm. The bass music is swiftly played, blending in with the guitar and the drummer steadily beats along without much variation. The vocalist bellows out his lyrics with an air of repulsion. “I muffle your inner choir, rehearsing twisted screams.” “Level
the jester’s dream, numbing your live wire.” Then about three quarters of the way in, the tempo slows down with the same black heavy style. Vocalist Nocturno Culto holds a day job as a teacher and has raised a family, like ordinary people do. He joined the band in eighty eight, a year later than the other members, but has been an integral part of all of their albums. He employs a distressed throat quality and he can scream with prolonged hang time. His voice sounds somewhere between Cronos
and Tom Warrior
of Celtic Frost
As you probably know, this has been a two man band since the original guitarist quit in ninety three. So Nocturno also plays both the guitar and bass music. In ninety six he was a member of Satyricon
, under the name Kveldulv and performed the rhythm guitar on Nemesis
Divina. The guitar music is more dominant in the black heavy styled tracks, with articulate riffs that chop and grind. While the bass music is more prominent during the slower black doom compositions. The fourth track, Alp Man, breaks out with a catchy guitar melody at medium speed. The bass music follows along with waves of heavy notes, as the drummer casually pounds along in cadence. Nocturno hollers out his lines umglamorously. “Half hearted black hearted rams, interstellar fugitives.” “Doing their bit for the universal dam, coined as the black metal prairie.” Then the tempo slows down about halfway in, with a macabre guitar riff and the bass music bolsters this with gruesome midrange notes.
The final number, The Key inside the Wall, begins with a slow doom styled guitar riff and heavy bass lines with wavering notes. But soon the tempo becomes faster and the music transforms into a black heavy texture. The drummer consequently diversifies his beat tone patterns. “Confused isolation heroics, chilled concern fragments.” “Morbid
Kaleidoscope draws you in, stigmata of satan pulls you out.” So this track goes on alternating between the black heavy and doom textures. Fenriz is their original drummer and the senior band member. For his day jobs, he was a member of a city council and runs sorting machines in a post office. Through
his musical career, he has worked with Valhal, Isengard
, Storm and other side projects. He beats along adequately, but not so dazzling during the faster songs. In contrast, he shuffles with more tonal depth and cymbal crashing during the slower tracks. There are a couple of modest drum rolls from time to time.
The lyrics were written by Fenriz, all of them carrying different subject matter. Each one is very simple with angry sarcasm and looks like he may have been drunk when he wrote them. One central theme seems to be that people don’t appreciate what they have, until it is lost. It contains six tracks, three of which were composed by Nocturno and the others by Fenriz. The textures are of the black heavy genre and some are a mix of black heavy and black doom. The album rocks out mediocre, without a harsh black metal song worthy of a good playlist. Despite
their reputation they haven’t released a pure black metal CD in well over ten years. In some cases a genre change would move a band into the progressive category. But the word regressive is more applicable to this current situation. In my opinion Old Star
rocks out with moderate quality and is better than The Underground Resistance
, but equals Arctic Thunder
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