This post began, like so many of them do around here, with a recommendation. This recommendation came from a woman who goes by the name Raven Stead. She left a note on our Contact page urging us to listen to a Norwegian black metal band named Blodsgard, and she left links for that purpose.
The first link was to a music video for a song called “Mentalt Minefelt”. The video part of the clip looks like excerpts from a black-and-white silent movie involving nuns, implements of torture, and that fallen angel we’ve heard so much about for millennia, but who knows. What thoroughly grabbed me, however, was not the pictorial part of the video but the music. So I listened to the other songs for which Raven provided links, and fell for it like a chainsawed fir tree reaching for the ground. Just fucking cut off at the roots.
That led to a correspondence with Raven, who has been working as a U.S. representative of the band, which in turn led to downloads of Blodsgard’s music (including several songs that will appear on the band’s debut album) and ultimately to a treat we’re now able to provide NCS readers — a link for the download of new music from this killer band. It’s funny how things work out sometimes if you just go with the flow, particularly when the flow leads to music that so thoroughly seizes your interest, as Blodsgard has for me.
This band started life in 2006 under the direction of Blodsgard’s songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist Fredrik R and now includes drummer Kenneth Mellum (Formloff, Scarvest, Myrkgrav, Mistur) and lyricist Stein Akslen. In its earliest incarnation, Blodsgard created a full-length demo called Nuclear Extinction. Initially, it was created in extremely limited supply for fans, and it sold out quickly, though the band have now made it available for download via their web site. (more after the jump . . .)
More recently, Blodsgard have produced an additional compilation of four songs called Solve et Coagula. I guess you could call it a demo EP, except it hasn’t been publicly released. Instead, the band only gave physical copies to close friends and more recently sent it off to labels. Some of those songs have appeared in YouTube videos, which are among the ones I first saw (and heard) via Raven’s links. Thanks to Raven, I was able to download and listen to all four songs as music files — and I was thoroughly hooked.
The music is shrouded in the aura of wintry bleakness for which black metal is typically known, but each song also carries within it memorable, haunting melodies as well as razored hostility. Tremolo’d guitar chords cascade like falling rain or attack like ice and snow blowing sideways in a vicious wind. Sometimes piercing those baseline melodies are guitar leads that ring like chimes. The rhythms slam and jolt, often triggering that headbang impulse we all know and love so well.
I have to make special mention of the drumming on Solve. Apart from the skillful changes that mark transitions in the music and its mood, the tone is completely natural. The bass drum in particular sounds like a kettle drum or some giant war-drum, animal hide stretched taut and being struck with a mallet. It BOOMS and sometimes positively explodes in pagan fury.
Fredrik’s vocals are also first-rate — caustic, jagged, and impassioned, but his voice wears well. Thankfully missing are the incessant high-pitched, chalkboard-scratching shrieks that make it difficult for me to get to the end of many old-school black metal albums.
The production of the songs on Solve, as well as the newer songs I got a chance to hear courtesy of Raven, is just about perfect for this music. It’s neither muddy nor overly compressed, and there’s a good balance between the treble and bass ends of the register (again, I have a personal prejudice against the almost tinny, treble-shifted sound of some old school BM).
As good as the songs on Solve et Coagula are (and they are very good indeed), the band unfortinately have no plans to release it to the public, at least not in its present form, because, in their words, “the fans deserve a more complete product.” They’ve focused their efforts on finishing a complete album, which apparently will include the songs on Solve and is targeted for release in the summer of 2012.
My only problem with this idea is that I don’t like to write about music when I don’t have any way to give our readers the chance to get it for themselves if they like it. I registered that feeling with Raven, and that prompted her to work with the band to provide a special download of music for fans of this site. More about that in just a moment. But first, here’s a taste of the music, beginning with the first video I saw.
Now, here’s that treat we promised you. We’re going to give you a link that will take you to a Blodsgard page where, in return for your e-mail address, you’ll be able to download three Blodsgard songs (and when you hear these songs, be giving your silent thanks not to me but to Raven Stead for making this possible). The songs are “Mentalt Minefelt” (the song featured in that first music video I saw) and “Sjeler Vil Brenne” (also included above) from the unreleased Solve EP, plus “Mitt Blod Flyter (Svart Eksistens)” — the band’s foray into depressive/suicidal black metal (DSBM), which will appear on the new album. That last song is especially vicious and includes a squalling guitar solo that put a big smile on my face.
For more info about Blodsgard, visit these places:
By the way, the opening line to the Solve demo, in the song “Påkallelsen”, is “Tilgi oss ikke, vi vet hva vi gjør!!” which I understand translates from the Norsk as “Forgive us not, we know what we do!” Damn straight they do.