Friday, 10 December 2010


Ealdulf have produced one of the most spirited and subtly inventive black metal albums of recent years. Featuring three members of the depressive ambient entity Self-Inflicted Violence, yet sounding sufficiently different that you can tell they are separate entities. There's some of that mournful melancholy associated with the depressive genre (if you must, that's never sat right for me - helplessness and Black Metal are not compatible energies, or lack thereof) but those emotional tones are used to colour a music operating on a grander scale, and the combination is incredibly effective.  From the very first moments of the self-released Hrimcealde Sæ you can just feel there is more going on with this band than the forested album cover would have conveyed on its own; it opens with angular stabs of bass that sound like Martin Hannett is sat in the producers chair goading some kind of urban dystopian aggression out of them, then the sheets of treble shift into the foreground and all the BM influence comes rushing back over the top, driving drums rush along and pull the heavily tremeloed rhythms guitars up towards a faster more trance inducing state. The vocals have a good range between screeching and guttural bass There are echoes of some of the great viking/pagan bands such as Enslaved or Falkenbach in the heroicness of Mod Geondhweorfeð (The Memory Of Kinsmen), but the constant presence of a thick bass tone keeps their sound with a foot along either side of fantasy and reality, their songs are possessed of a grip a grounded grip round their throat that stops them getting too flighty, even when the lead guitars lean back and soar off into pealing solos, and that constantly lean, taut, pulsing rhythm section still keeps the whole thing locked down. very many standout moments and tracks on this record; a few more to finish before an example: Three minutes into the relatively folky Oft Earmcearig (Bereft Of My Homeland) there's a pause in the music, a weighted silence then a savage sped-up StoogesDarkthrone riff in the distance of Eald Enta Eeweorc (The Ancient Work Of Giants), overlaid with vaporising sheets of misty guitars, and the epic introduction to the climactic Ofer Waþema Gebind (Over The Frozen Waves) like riff comes crashing through the silence barrelling towards a rocking finish than gets time-stretched down to its conclusion; and the encroaching canter of

Like I said at the start, a band with a surprisingly subtle yet devastatingly effective sound and the tightness to execute it with style. Absolutely essential.

Ofer Waþema Gebind (Over The Frozen Waves) from the album Hrimcealde Sæ

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