Thursday, January 23, 2014

Kampfar: "Djevelmakt"

I am more than guilty of dissecting something down under the genre microscope, to try and figure out  if it's black metal or not. The lines are sometimes blurred in a positive ways particularly with black metal project that have been around since the 90's, such is the case with Kampfar's much anticipated  Djevelmakt or  Devil power. It opens with a piano line and explodes into some pretty nasty grooves from there.

By most standards this would be considered blackened in the same way Vreid has crossed over, They do return to the blast and do so within the album first two minutes. They also include some clean vocals, which hold more rasp than what Enslaved does, but creates a similar mood. The drums are pretty amazing and the playing on this album is impeccable. Folk elements are still intact, though the forest the occupy is set on the songs outskirts.

"Kujon" or coward, tramples you under the double bass and the monolithic riff, as the vocals take on more of chant. Cleaner vocals chime in like a battle cry in the background. This one pretty much hammers you like their older stuff, just in a much more refined manner.The nuanced song writing is where most of the growth has occurred ,as despite the hype, this is just a logical evolution from "Mare", though not too far removed from it at all.

There are moments of straight forward in your face rocking , in fact they occur more often than not.The vocals generally stay in a similar harsh space. Keyboards on songs like "Blod,  Eder og Galle" are warmed up by the synths in the background, these moment should appease longtime fans who want something familiar.  

Of course the albums darker moments are the highlights for me. "Swarm Norvegicus" has a creepy throb to the riff, the bass comes up in the mix . The vocals are really well produced, creating a cavernous sound for them to roar out into with out them getting lost in the black hole they occupy. The call and response section is some fine tuned song writing on every front, making the vocals a priority to this album rather than just the icing on the cake.

They tend to not relent on the speed factor, especially in the latter portion of the albums, though things like clean vocal chants do crop up, but I don't think this should repel long time fans or even make them doubt if this is black metal. The symphonic interludes are nothing older Dimmu hasn't employed, they really add more kick to the sections when they punch back in.There momentum can at times propel the album at such a thundering blur, until it fades into the rumble of the background.

The closing track "Our Hounds , Our Legion" offers a respite from the pounding , by opening up with an acoustic guitar.The song roars back with a lot of groove to it's accented intensity, before reverting back to the blast. So to compare them to Rotting Christ in terms of straying from black metal is not accurate at all. This album is pretty fucking good, though the song writing is more innovative in the first half , I'll give it an 8.5 and see how it grows on me.      

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