Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Ifing:"Against This Weald"
A black metal band that takes it's name from Norse Mythology, in this case the river that separates Asgard from the realm of giants, is about as new as one that releases thirteen minute songs. The opening four minutes is ambiant passage that's slightly more Lord of the rings than Newer Burzum. When the actual metal enters it gallops in on a blast-ridden cascade. The vocals work with the music more like Immortal but with much less of a croak and more of a dry rasp. The folk elements will bring Agalloch comparisons galore I'm sure, especially the use of clean vocals. It's fine by me as Agalloch has evolved past this sound so it's good that some body is doing it.
"The Stream" carries all the glorious epic qualities one might ask for from folk metal, but like Agalloch. The acoustic passages, where the guitar strums along while intricate soloish passages and ethnic instrumentas flow over head. The thing that normally cheeses out folk metal to me is how it takes on a polka like quality and frolics like Viking drinking songs, which is too celebratory for me. Two things are surprising about this band . One is that they are from Michigan, the other is that they are a two piece.
The formula in place on this album is working like a charm as they have already sold out of the 1,000 copies of the limited edition cd for "Against the Weald" which they were selling on the Bandcamp page. Granted the album has been out since May, but for a debut, that is still pretty impressive. I noticed seeing these guys pop up on pages that were pretty selective in what metal they covered, so expect this album to push the band into a larger audience. The Bathory comparison is getting thrown around a lot already, as is the Moonsorrow. I would say Moonsorrow is a better comparison than Bathory, as the do not have the raw aggression of Bathory.
The longer of the two actual songs is "Realms Forged". It continues with the sweeping European feel. This does kinda hit that Moonsorrow spot where, my ears know it's well played and good , but my attention can be drawn away from it allowing it to become background music rather easily. This was not the case with the first song which I was more engaged in. There are some cool and powerfully preformed punches along the way, that might make you look up from what you are doing. When these guys are left alone to pretty much rely on the mid range raspy vocals it all begins to blend in. At the ten minute mark the break down almost makes me think I am listening to "Ashes Against the Grain" as the same synth break with water sound effects begins to flow. They come back blasting in a way that is unique as is under the keyboard and the drums and bass go in first . The bass doesn't follow the drums instead holding the root accent down. Guitar comes back in to employ more of a soloist riff.
The clean vocals return in a choral swell in the final mintues of the song, which does redeem itself in the end. The thing with long epic songs is if any of it is going to drag, let the producer listen and tell you and cut that part out. I would rather have twelve solid minutes rather than eighteen, where I'm during six of those to enjoy the other twelve. Water would be a good place to start. If you are thinking "You know I really enjoyed the sound of water flowing it relaxed me." Then you should go flush the toilet with your head in it and listen to that. The sound you will here is the sound your parents should have made when they brought you home from the hospital.
As a general rule I enjoyed this album and could appreciate what was going on even when lulled away from it. I will give it a 9, as it is pretty solid and die hard fans of folk metal that takes it self seriously will get a hard on the size of Thor's hammer for this. Check out the Bandcamp stream, as you aren't going to find a physical copy of this any time soon as their label is in Finland.