Monday, 7 June 2010

Lönndom - Viddernas tolv kapitel (2010) 60/100.

I must admit, I never saw this change in direction. After Lönndom’s full-length debut, ‘Fälen Från Norr’, I had expected the twosome to continue on a path similar to that of their previous band, the highly contagious Lik. Although Lik were evolving into Lönndom and dumbing down the occult black rock style, the two musicians, S. Sandström and A. Petterson, had decided to keep some of the aspects which made Lik what they were. However, this sophomore full-length, entitled ‘Viddernas Tolv Kapitel’, has almost completely stripped out the Lik style, which involved heavily repetitious, entrancing bass, guitars and vocals -- which were a mix between clean and harsh techniques -- the new style has alluded the occult black rock sector of underground music and taken on a much more folksy sound, leaving behind the snappy percussion and biting guitar distortion in favour of acoustics, cleanly sung harmonies and samples of nature, which add a subtle, but glorious touch to the already natural, organic sound of the band, though they are a sparse addition to this album.

Instead of sounding akin to their former acts, which is what I had expected, the musicians have leaned more towards bands like the Chilean doom metal act Uaral (but without the metallic structure), the well known Ulver during their own folksy stage (in particular ‘Kveldssanger’) and bands like Norway’s obscure, but treasured Vàli. Hopefully this gives you, the reader, an idea of how much Lönndom have transformed from their debut. In some ways I would consider this sophomore a much more successful edition to their discography. However, I don’t find this purely folk album as accessible as their previous work, despite the increase in maturity and compositional prowess. Although each song filters into the next and there is much beauty to be found in the atmospherics of this light album, folk without a metallic swing to it isn’t something I can see myself enjoying time and again, over and over, or incessantly. There isn’t a longevity to this style as there was on Lik’s albums. The acoustics, samples of singing birds, or blazing fires on ‘Uttorkad Vare Forsen’ can only do so much before the folk becomes overbearing.

Albums like this only find their way out of the darkness of the cupboard and into the light on cloudy, grey and gloomy days when the raining is trickling down from the sky and nature is in a vengeful mood. Unlike bands like Chile’s Uaral who, whilst maintaining a folk base to their compositions, successfully intertwine a metallic edge giving them more depth and accessibility to someone like myself who craves a mixture of the two -- folk and metal -- whenever he opens up his soul to folk music. Each song, including the impressive ‘Vindaflykt’, which clocks in at 9 minutes long, easily becoming the longest song on the record, do manage to hold my attention through the sheer beauty of the sorrowful acoustics, but the atmosphere is a bit bear without the inclusion of percussion and the infectious riffs these two musicians have become known for in recent years. Their debut needed a sufficient amount of work doing to it to even come close to comparing to that of Lik’s earliest albums, but I’m not entirely convinced that this new image will take them to a more successful route than the one they were previously on.

The one remnant that has remained is the clean vocal style, though the two musicians seem to collaborate more so now than ever before. Their vocal exploits, and particularly that of the main vocalist, are still as entrancing as ever, but without the backing of the previously pivotal guitars, some songs can end up becoming, dare I say it, a bit dull. Take ‘Höstdagar’ for example. The song floats along amicably. It’s “nice”. Samples of waves and, strangely, a hooting owl. Images of the night sky, stretching into the distance with millions of blazing stars come to mind. It’s all very peaceful and the chanted vocals towards the end are exceptionally handled and brought into the atmosphere to give it a bit of pep, but this doesn’t detract from the fact that, although beautiful, a lot of the work seems forgettable. I tend to find most acoustically based music needs something more substantial than just beauty to fall back on and though the vocals are a good addition besides the acoustics, they don’t sweep me off my feet and take me on drug-like trips that the old material once did. Likeable and good to listen to if you’re intent on having a relaxing afternoon, but this album transforms into decent background music after a few songs.

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