Friday, 15 January 2010

Lönndom - Fälen Från Norr. 75/100.

Both A. Petterson and S. Sandström seem to be fussy musicians, obsessing over image and minor genre details. In the search for perfection, they seem to have overlooked one massive detail and that is the fact that this project and a previous one in particular are almost identical. If asked to name all the major differences between this project, named Lönndom, and the recently disbanded Lik, I would be hard-pressed for answers. As far as my ears are able to tell, there have been very few changes to the projection of the music from Lik to Lönndom and yet, both musicians have still felt the need to disrupt the flow of excellence by changing minor details which have no bearing on the outcome of the music, though they do sour my opinion slightly. Personally, I love Lik’s contagious occult black rock style and felt there was absolutely no need for the transformation which now always seems inevitable when these two are involved.

For some strange unknown reason, they’re drawn to chaos, washing everything they had down the drain by moving away from all previous ties. Perhaps the well is running on empty and the ideas are drying out? The changes, although minor, seem to express an underlying problem which we, the public, may not be entirely aware of. Perhaps the musicians, who’re undoubtedly talented in this and related fields, feel that if they change their image, people will forget the fact that they’re merely recreating the same sound over, and over, and over again? With Lik, things were perfect as they were. To me, the changes are like a beautiful woman having needless surgery on a part of her body which doesn’t need altering and the results are catastrophic as she transforms from beauty to beast overnight.

I mustn’t be too bashful because I actually do like ‘Fälen Från Norr’, believe it or not. I, like many others, am just left scratching my head and wondering why both musicians felt the need to convert to a different way of projecting almost the exact same music. As you can tell from the band pictures of all the bands they have been in together, they have moved from a traditional black metal images, face paint and scary postures and all, to wannabe cowboys with their dashing hats and attire, sitting on a rock, blessing nature with their harmonious acoustic music. In some ways, I cannot help but feel that the band are somewhat pretentious and trying to pertain to a level of accessibility that this type of music will never have. I still don’t believe that the musicians have cracked the code to accessibility. The music remains as inaccessible as the black rock style - which even has black metal fans divided over its usefulness. However displeasing the image of the band is, though that isn’t too important, the aesthetics of the music are still as good as ever, though I must say I do miss the old hissing vocals.

They were so disdainful and full of hatred that I couldn’t not love them, given my taste in music. Mostly, the vocals are clean here. On occasions, the vocals will stretch to a growl, as shown on songs like ‘Stállo’, but this is a rare occurrence and, I assume, we’re now meant to believe that the musicians are building a career around folk music simply because they use clean vocals instead of the old hissing, raspy vocals that partially made Lik who and what they were. I have no real issue with how the new vocals sound within the spectrum of the music. They sound fine. However, I still feel the droning, hypnotic effect was maximised by the use of harsh vocals over harsh instrumental passages, as done by the Lik entity. The music is, essentially, one and the same. It revolves around repetitious, hypnotising bass lines and guitar riffs. In some ways, the bass on songs like ‘Nordafejd’ reminds me of a less innovative Joy Division. Amidst the usual style of the band, the bass sticks out like a sore thumb, repetitively leading the way and taking precedence.

Songs like this force the tempo of the record to alter and therefore stutter, moving from a fast pace to a mere walk as the clean vocals move in to showcase their talents. I’m not fond of this ploy and would much rather the band stick to the harsher patterns and eliminate most of the “folk” from within songs like this, as they do towards the end of the song. To me, adding the odd tambourine here or there does not make a folk record. The percussion has more license to roam, but doesn’t stray far from the origins of the music. I’m not sure whether I’d consider this a creative record. It certainly isn’t groundbreaking considering the musings of the Lik opuses. ‘Fälen Från Norr’ could be considered more varied because of the vocal approach but, musically speaking, the remains of Lik have been scattered all over this record, making it feel like the continuation of Lik. Though the lyrical themes have changed, the current themes have connotations to the old themes with spirituality being at the forefront of the soul of this band. Impressive in parts, inconsistent in others.

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