Wednesday, February 3, 2010
RIMFROST "VERALDAR NAGLI" (Season of Mist)
Technicality has very few footholds in the black metal universe. Black metal is usually equated with some sort of primitivism philosophically or ideologically, a return to simpler times and more singular visions of "spiritual" existence and oftentimes that belief manifests musically by a very "amateurish" approach. I hesitate to use that word because it isn't exactly what i mean but it approximates the idea best-one could just as easily say "bedroom black metal" and convey the same theory of intent. If you think about it too much the immediacy is lost and the power with it. Some bands, especially the "olde worlde" BM bands from the Europes and Scandinavias, have mastered this technique and made it into something unique, otherworldy and frightening. But for every Vlad Tepes and Mutiilation there are 100 other shitty bands trying to do the exact same thing and failing miserably. Where does all of this leave the truly technically adept band? There's two resolutions-to either become so convoluted and technical that you alienate the majority of receptive listeners (Ved Buens Ende and Blut Aus Nord spring to mind) or you disassociate from the true black metal tag and play the fuck out of your instruments like the world was crashing down around you. Rimfrost choose the latter position and bring some seriously rocking thrash riffing to their dense, precision-laden blackened attack. I could go on and on and tell you how fast and tight everything is, how it all feels like a hammer being slowly pulled back on a gun before the bullet comes racing out of the muzzle but i think i'll just make an apt and illuminating comparison. Rimfrost are the Metallica of the black metal world and "Veraldar Nagli" is their equivalent to "And Justice For All". It's THAT precise. It's THAT tight. It's THAT controlled and it's THAT fast, and yes, it's THAT complex too. There are tons of riffs on this record, enough that a second record could easily have been made had they just spaced things out a little more. It's relentless in its pacing and merciless in its assault. Production is crisp, clean and aggressively hyper. Every guitar part is palm-muted and compressed until the resultant tone is like a fuzz drenched knife set slashing at your ear drums. The problem with this sound is that after about three songs in the refreshing brutality wears off and the record becomes a static blur of speed and frenzy with few standout moments. Everything begins to sound the same and by the time you're heading into minute seven of track four you're wishing the whole thing would just be over. Rimfrost are extremely good at what they're doing and i doubt there are any bands who could do blackened thrash this well, but the album is way too long at 52 minutes. Half that would have been ideal-just enough to cut you up and leave you bleeding out on the streets. Instead the thing lumbers along at breakneck pace with no time for recovery or contemplation, riffs spinning by so quick that they barely even register. When you get to the solo on the final track you feel elated because it's the first time something different has happened since the record began and you know the whole thing is almost over. An exhausting, jackhammering listening experience not for the timid.