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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Valgaldr - Østenfor sol

Artist: Valgaldr
Release Title: Østenfor sol
Year: 2015
Label: Fallen-Angels Productions
Genre: Black Metal
1. Tusen steiner
2. Et slott i skogen
3. Taakenatt
4. Aske til aske
5. Vargnatt
6. Over fjellheimen
7. Slagmark
8. Begravelsesferd

The debut effort from Norwegian black metallers Valgaldr offers a wholly appealing if entirely cliche and unoriginal take on traditional Norwegian black metal. It’s all eerily familiar work throughout here, with the brimstone-soaked tremolo pattern riff-work giving this a decidedly strong touch of atmospheric flavor that comes from the old-school style of black metal being played and blastbeat-driven drumming that allows for the utterly dexterous and smooth tempo changes from utterly frantic and chaotic driving rhythms to the more prominent mid-tempo gallops that are featured here which allows the riffing to vary according to those rhythms. The idea even of going with alternating tempos where it features a faster track, then a slower, more mid-tempo one keeps this from really overselling the kind of overexposure it really could’ve come off with. It’s all quite expected to be featured here in these kinds of acts, though that tends to be quite easily overlooked here as this is pulled off with a conviction and energy that’s quite lacking in many similar acts who run through the motions. The songwriting dynamics on display of allowing these pretty lengthy and absorbed tracks to remain consistently enjoyable and engaging with the kind of varied tempo shifts and variations to be found here that makes for a much more enjoyable listen. It’s still pretty cliche, but there’s a lot more to like here which does raise this somewhat.

The first half here makes for a wholly enjoyable start to this one. Opening track ‘Tusen steiner’ opens with rattling up-tempo tremolo riffing and pounding drumming through a dynamic and explosive series of dynamic riffing with the pounding drumming keeping this one blazing along at a steady pace with the sprawling md-tempo patterns thumping along into the finale for a dynamic and enjoyable opener. ‘Et slott i skogen’ uses a sharp swirling mid-tempo pattern with stylish drumming working along a steady pace that keeps the heavy tremolo riff-work continuing along through the sprawling, atmospheric rhythms along the mid-section with the swirling riffing leading into the final half for a decent if unimpressive effort.’ Taakenatt’ features rattling drumming with plenty of swirling tremolo-picked patterns through a frantic series of rhythms keeping the pounding drum-work driving the urgent tempos along with the darkened atmospheres swirling through the riffing leading into the blasting finale for a truly impressive highlight offering. ‘Aske til aske’ uses a dark, swirling series of gloomy riffing slowly plodding along into a fine series of howling rhythm patterns and steady drumming as the sprawling tempo matches the atmospheric tone and overall arrangements leading into the blistering traditional rhythms of the final half for a fine and enjoyable effort.

The second half here is much like the first half. ‘Vargnatt’  takes swirling up-tempo tremolo patterns and a rather steady series of drumming whipping throughout the steady rhythms keeping the rather dynamic and impressive mid-tempo gallop throughout with the steady sprawling rhythms carrying throughout the finale for a decent enough offering. ‘Over fjellheimen’ brings along dynamic swirling tremolo patterns and steady galloping drum-work that blasts away through a strong series of classic tremolo rhythms and full-on speed-driven rhythms as the blasting patterns continue on with the fiery tremolo patterns of the final half for another strong highlight offering. ‘Slagmark’ utilizes blazing drumming among the chaotic tremolo patterns with plenty of tight riffing keeping the buzzing tremolo riffs into the sprawling sections as the mid-tempo riffing slows the energy down with the intense tremolo patterns continuing on in the battering finale for a somewhat decent enough effort. Lastly, ‘Begravelsesferd’ uses a plodding series of swirling tremolo patterns to slowly build into an eerie, atmospheric style of riffing with a droning pace carrying the simple rhythms dripping with the darkened, brimstone-scented riffing with plenty of charging mid-tempo patterns carrying through the final half for a decent if unimpressive lasting impression.

Overall this here is pretty much typical second-wave Norwegian worship that doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre but offers such a welcoming and enjoyable listening experience that there’s plenty of fun to be had from this regardless of originality and makes for a stand-out release for stalwart aficionados of the scene or Norwegian black metal in general.

Score: 87/100

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