Album: Blod og Jern
Label: Vendetta Records
Release date: 03 November 2023
Format reviewed: High-quality digital recording
A band that has been recently creeping its head in the black metal underground, Ildskaer, unleashed their true might with their sophomore full-length Blod og Jern. A deeply melodic, slightly raw accompanied by melancholic synth passages and blast beats, it is a true atmospheric black metal opus, and perhaps, the record that will pave the band’s road to glory. Released towards the end of the year may have caused it to fall a little bit under the radar, but any self-respecting black metal enthusiast knows how spectacular this album ended up being.
There are a plethora of reasons why Blod og Jern can be considered an atmospheric black metal masterpiece, and the one that tends to stand out the most is its undoubted originality, which can be observed in all aspects, from the music itself to the atmosphere and the production. The eye-catching album cover is also guaranteed to grab your interest for the record. The quality of the songs is also impressive, as well as the tempo variety and the overall way the songs are executed, both in terms of instruments and vocals.
Blod og Jern can be described at a first listen as being an easy album to listen to and enjoy, and that is actually true, despite being surprising. The raw production of the album is part of the reason why, given that it is used in a way that tuned down the aggression of the music, leaving the focus more on the melody and emphasizing the atmosphere, instead of making the instruments sound harsher and more abrasive, which would make the album much less appealing to people who don’t necessarily dig that style of sound for atmospheric black metal. The drums are quite faded into the mix, which gives them a very relaxing feel, almost like a quiet pulse for the songs. The rhythm variety also helps bring out all the different moods that are found throughout the album, ranging from blast beats to more slower, doomy rhythms.
The riffs are, perhaps, the best part of the album as a whole. They are, of course, very melodic, despite being written in classic black metal fashion, a quality which could make them appealing outside of atmospheric black metal. They are drenched in melancholy and carry that mood into the atmosphere, which is once again made even more touching by the occasional synth passages, that sometimes can feel quite epic, without blocking out the more gloomy sound and mood. Another interesting aspect of the riffs is that they seem to be slightly more technical, but not so much that they become overwhelming or experimental. It is a sign of a high degree of musicianship within the band, which is always something pleasant to notice.
The vocal work on the album is also impressive in its own right. It features both classic black metal singing and lower styles of growling in the style of melodic death metal. A little quirk of the vocal performance that makes it all more interesting is the use of a clean singing technique that still carries elements from harsh vocals, something similar to Kampfar, perhaps. The main emotions present throughout Blod og Jern are obvious here as well as in the other album elements, which makes the vocals all the more touching.
The album spans around 45 minutes and features 5 tracks, all of which are, obviously, on the lengthy side. This reduces the possibility of filler content throughout the record and only offers the listener the best of the best. Given this fact, picking out standout tracks is more difficult than in other situations, however, some songs that caught my ear would be AErens Mark and Et Lidet Fattigt Land.
All in all, Ildskaer surely did an outstanding job with this record, and for atmospheric black metal enthusiasts, this is surely not a record to miss out on. I personally loved it, and it is surely an album I will be coming back to. 9.5/10 Ioana
9.5/10 Epic Storm
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