Wednesday, 23 January 2013

#246 Koldbrann - Vertigo

Koldbrann are one of the bands I frequently use as an answer when someone asks the question; "so, does Norway have much of a black metal scene any more?". Having been active since 2001, it's safe to say that the band hail from a younger generation than the mainstays and founders of the genre, but at the same time, aren't afraid to play black metal which sounds suitably old-school. Their third album, currently up for streaming on the Hails and Horns website, managed to creep up on me - it's good to see the band back in action once again.

Based on the artwork alone, it's safe to say that I had no idea what the music in this new album was going to sound like - the previous albums have appeared instantly cold and malign, while this one was very different indeed. I needn't have worried though - A few songs in, it became apparent that the band had crafted a solid album. While "Vertigo" doesn't quite boast the necrosound and sheer venom of an album like "Nekrotisk Inkvisition", it certainly has enjoyable aspects which it can boast. While neater, perhaps more shiny and clean, the production and tone doesn't disappoint - the music still manages, unfettered, to rush through the speakers like an icy gale. Vertigo is one of those black-metal albums which has a tumbling, fist-pumping majesty; the music is cold, and extremely dark, but also strong and proud - something which should always be welcome in black metal. Another thing which the album provides that I'm always happy to welcome is lower tempos; with plenty of bands out there playing nothing but blast-beats, Koldbrann slow things down a little, allowing the atmosphere to seep and ooze from energetic and fist-pumping mid-and-low tempo riffs, with tangled but grandiose guitar melodies and occasional solos.  The gruff vocals, too, add to the music's powerful, almost militant sounding edge.

Perhaps one of the notable twists on what the band did before is that this album has embraced a dose of punk-elements, with punk-influenced drumming and riffs making their presence known throughout the album, in small servings for the most part, but occasionally becoming very prominent indeed, for instance in "Stolychnaya Smert", which has the raucous, almost sing-along edge very reminiscent of Darkthrone's punk-influenced material. The interesting thing is that such belters share the album very comfortably with genuinely dark and evil sounding music - many of the songs bring as much atmosphere and frostbitten devilry  as any I can think of, and there are certainly some songs on the record which qualify as near-perfect quintessential black-metal. At the same time, the underlying spirit of the album seems to be very inspired by punk - you certainly get the feeling that this is an album with plenty of spit and energy. It's good news indeed that the band have not done this clumsily - the reconciliation of the more upbeat and the more grim elements is fairly seamless, and Koldbrann are clearly more intent on making the music they want to make, than on any other agenda. That in itself is very admirable. On top of these facts, the album sounds solid, and even better, sounds fresh.

Above all, Vertigo is an interesting record, and one which I was genuinely looking forward to listening to when I discovered that it was streaming.As probably the first black-metal album I've listened to in 2013, it has safely assured me that the genre is still thriving.

It's a good one. 8/10.

Koldbrann Official Site
Koldbrann on Facebook
Koldbrann on Metal Archives