Stunningly gorgeous album. The guitar tone and overall atmosphere is beautiful, in a majestic, hopeful, and warm way. But it’s not just hopeful, it’s hope in the face of danger. When I listen to this album I feel like I’m a villager in a small village up north, cira 1700s. A raging snowstorm is outside, winds howling and rapping against my windows. My family and I are warm by the fire, while the storm continues to bellow outside. We tell stories to pass the time, laughing, but in a somewhat nervous way. We are safe for now, but if the winds grow too strong, the door will be blown open, and all hell will break loose. There is a feeling of tentative security in the face of nature’s great force. However if we do make it through the night, we know there will be serenity in the morning. I think of the hope we have not only for the sunrise, but for making through the winter, looking forward to a potentially great harvest, so that my family may enjoy the hopefully bright future that awaits them. It feels warm, comforting, but with caution.
Feelings aside, the music is fantastic as well. While the other three tracks are good but not great, Blood is god damn amazing. The main chord progression throughout the track gives me chills, and paired with the dazzling choir section makes it a wonderful track to behold. The one major aspect holding this album back is how repetitive it can get. While I get that repeating riffs endlessly is kind of a big atmo black thing, I feel like the two shorter tracks just don’t give enough variety to surge this to AOTY contention. Sure the atmosphere is majestic and awe inspiring, but by the 4 minute mark I’m starting to think “ok I think I get the picture here, let’s move on please”. And they don’t really move on, that’s the problem. While as Blood and Spirit of the North had breaks and change-ups, the other two tracks don’t have that as much. Not that I’m saying they’re bad tracks, but the album certainly has a weighted nature.
This is really the first black metal album this year that I’ve really loved. Hopefully that doesn’t stay that way. For now I’ll just return to my village home in my head and hope there’s door insurance in rural 1700s northern Europe.