Saturday, 24 July 2010

Fenria - De Åt Döden Vigda (2006) 15/100.

I always fear the absolute worst when a black metal album opens with a lengthy song that begins with a few minutes of ambiance. This is precisely how Fenria’s full-length debut ‘De Åt Döden Vigda’ begins. I find these ambient openings to be very ominous. Occasionally they lead to a really impressive middle and end but, for the most part, they fall by the wayside and deteriorate as time goes on. Fenria are a relatively unknown band who remind me somewhat of acts like Ossein who, on their only black metal album entitled ‘Declination’, have long periods of ambiance in between the instrumentation. Although the ambiance on Ossein’s album feels somewhat warranted, though it could always have been reduced to a shorter time frame and still made the same impact, the ambiance on the opening song to this album, which is self-titled, is a disgrace.

Given that this album is a three-song affair, I’ll describe each song as it comes. Although I’m not fond of track-by-track reviews, it feels like a necessity when an album only contains a few songs, one of which should simply be discredited since it’s only just over two minutes long when the other two songs eclipse the ten minute mark, with the opening self-titled song going on for an agonising THIRTY minutes. Now, moving away from the dull ambiance where only a few indecipherable sounds are omitted, the self-titled number does actually include some genuine black metal music, though it isn’t at all good. I like the pace of the song once the instrumentation actually gets to grips with the shambles of an introductory passage. It’s very slow, very mournful and the vocals are worked terrifically into the atmosphere.

They’re distant and excruciating in their approach. They identify emotions like anger, pain and loneliness well, as one would expect any black metal vocalist fronting this type of band to do. The music has been described as depressive black metal on occasions, but I’m more inclined to think of this as a simplistic atmospheric black metal type of affair. Songs like this tend to run in circles. So, whilst the song begins with pointless ambiance, we known that it isn’t going to last for thirty minutes plus. The ambiance does give way to underwhelming instrumentation of a black metal kind. The bass is a lot more accessible than I thought it would be. In fact, throughout the self-titled song it is very clear and throbs away like a heart which is experiencing increased blood pressure. The bass is very generic and doesn’t really suit the style of the album.

The production for all songs is poor-to-average. The vocals are densely worked into the atmosphere whilst remaining an incredibly distant feature of the album. The vocals are good, perhaps the only strong point of the entire thing, or at least the only consistent aspect. The bass and drum work is very repetitive throughout and doesn’t like to include much variation. The bass is too obvious for me. It should be buried beneath the guitars but, instead, it is used alongside it and often over-the-top of it causing the guitar riffs to sound incredibly timid and unreaching in their efforts to cause any sort of emotional rise in the listener. There is a limited connection between me and what goes on during the album. As I said, the vocals are fine, they do their job, but the instrumentation, particularly the bass, is too raw and the guitars often feel like a Darkthrone spin-off meshed with a generic riff from the depressive sub-genre. The drums feel like they could be programmed, they’re very limited in their approach. In fact, they don’t offer anything.

As is expected with both of the first two songs, the stylistic approach runs in circles, as I said earlier. The opening song begins with dull, unmoving ambiance and ends in it, too. Whilst the second song, entitled ‘C.D.W.D’ also does the same thing. However, the second song uses feedback to generate ambiance and takes less than a minute to build to the actual content of the song, unlike the opening track which takes a full three or four minutes to actually go anywhere. Both songs lack direction and any real quality to speak of. Both are heavily repetitious and muck up the layering to catastrophic extents. The vocals, as on the first song, are fine on the second song, but the bass is too misshapen and the drums are flat, have no impact and lack energy. The song needlessly contains around seven minutes of ambiance towards the end which really could have been stricken from the remark. The ambiance serves to annoy, not move. Although the third song actually does something with the ambiance, it still feels unpolished and underwhelming. A really, really terrible album.

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