Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Isarnheimr - Isarnheimr. 68/100.



Something tells me this band take their work too seriously. Perhaps its in the fact that the band split up due to political differences between the musicians? Probably. Politics has always been a part of life that I’ve tried to block out. I understand that politics is everywhere, it is our lives, but being drawn into political debates is about as rewarding as religious debates. I don’t know which is more tedious, but this bands political beliefs, or namely, the belief that Christianity should be the only thing in life to rot in hell (how ironic), is spread all over this record for all to see. The political strands of bands has never appealed to me, nor has the belief of spreading hate and propaganda through music. Having said that, I don’t like to judge bands based upon their beliefs. That is left up to them as its their lives, not mine. I understand that records like this self-titled one are meant to reward the listener with some sort of sermon on how anti-Christian the band are and how you, the listener, should follow their ways of life as if they were Anton LaVey themselves.

Whether this band is Satanic or not, I do not know, nor do I particularly care. It doesn’t make me judge the instrumentation any differently to how I normally would, so issues of politics and religion will be left aside for a short while before I stupidly bring issues up that I know little about again and rant endlessly about them. So, Isarnheimr are precisely what I was expecting of them to. Aggressive, fast and non-stop. There is never a feeling throughout the entire duration of this record that the band are giving up on their ceaseless style. There are slower segments in between the aggression and the tremolo distortion, but these are sparse. ‘Eldkveikja’ is an example of the chaotic roots the band has and how they’re living up to the stereotypical standards laid down for them many years previous with the departure of the second wave and the arrival of the third wave, which began in a similar fashion to the one that left it behind in search for peace and tranquility in the afterlife. To eternity, and beyond!

Isarnheimr, though not the most experimental band, are affective at what they do and it has its own quirks hidden within the distortion that overrides the other elements. Bass is almost shot to pieces by the chaotic style. When the elements are slow down to the mid-paced style that the band rarely operates at, until songs like ‘Livlost’ come along and add to the clichés by providing us with a total cloning of the Burzum style. The ambiance is minimal, which is a shame, but when it is accessible, it is good. I have a few issues with the bands structures that make them as inaccessible as possible. There seems to be a problem with the production, unless my ears are playing tricks on me again. The songs fluctuate from one sound texture to another, causing me to feel drunk almost. Drunk of the naivety of the style and unaccomplished management of the song writing that often leaves a lot to be desired. The instrumentation seems to come second best, like a threesome gone wrong as the atmosphere has a tendency to be overwhelmed by the shortcomings in the production and the vocals, that lead the band into oblivion and beyond.

Isarnheimr seemingly forget what they’re attempted to do and place obnoxious vocals over the top of everything, thinking it produces a more “evil” sound, which is truly doesn’t. For me, the cold and distant feel of dissonant black metal, like this, has always been reflected in the instrumentation first, then the vocals. Of course, attached to the instrumentation is the atmosphere, connotative workings of the atmosphere and the soundscapes, all of which are by far more important to the music than the vocal portrayal, which is typical and unappealing for the most part as the vocalist cannot seem to decide whether to scream and shout, or rasp his way to mediocrity. The band don’t stick to one influence for too long as they like to intersperse elements of one band with elements of another, namely Burzum and Darkthrone. Again fluctuating from Burzum clone to Darkthrone rip-off but, nevertheless, there is a unique charm to the approach that allows me to continue on my journey of chaos.

Other songs like ‘I Evighet’ remind me of Burzum, through and through. The clichés attached to this record won’t appeal to anyone who hates the modern day style that attempts to rejuvenate the olden days with lessened atmospheric pieces. The production is a constant hindrance to the sound and is, ultimately, annoying and unforgivable. Isarnheimr, as a tribute band, would be fantastic. As their own entity, they have some work to do before they can lay a claim to the throne. So, besides the fact that the band have a familiar feel to their sound throughout, conjuring memories of the second wave in a way that will leave a lot of people disappointed, and the production really does need work, Isarnheimr are OKAY. Nothing more, nothing less.


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