Today has been one of those days when most of the NCS slaves, including myself, have been diverted from NCS slavery by other compulsions. Without meaning to take anything away from the one review and one premiere we’ve furnished today, we just haven’t had time to do more.
This state of affairs gnawed on my brain to the point when I decided I would at least provide another quick hit of new music. I chose the songs in an odd way: I didn’t listen to them before making the choices. For a while this morning I was in a place where I could write but couldn’t listen, so I wrote first and listened later, and then wrote a bit more before having to bid NCS good-by until tomorrow.
Admittedly, I wasn’t taking a complete shot in the dark when I picked this first song without listening to it. First, duh, it’s Skepticism. Second, I’ve heard the song before… sort of. Allow me to explain.
On October 26th Svart Records will be releasing a new version of Skepticism’s 1995 debut album Stormcrowfleet, in the sense that it has been newly re-mixed and re-mastered from the original tape reels by producer Anssi Kippo, supervised by the band. Part of the reason was to enable the production of a vinyl edition of the album for the first time. Here’s another part of the explanation by keyboardist Eero Pöyry:
“In the remix sessions, nothing was added or changed in the original recordings. The mix was done at Astia-studio with high-quality analog equipment. In fact, most of the equipment used did exist already in 1995. What did not exist back in the day was more than two decades of audio-engineering tradition dedicated to processing extreme metal. In this process, that tradition manifested in the form of Anssi Kippo – multiple-award-winning producer who handled the mixing in cooperation with the band members. In short, the target was not to do a different mix, but one with the original vision for the album with better equipment and engineering.”
I should add that Stormcrowfleet was one of the first funeral doom albums I ever heard — not when it came out, but more than a decade later. It made an enormous impression at a time when I was still a relative newcomer to extreme metal. It still makes an enormous impression.
The song you can hear now from this updated edition of Stormcrowfleet is “The Galant Crow“. For me, it was a vibrant re-living of a formative musical experience. It is now as it was then — an absolutely magnificent piece of music. For all the deep sorrow it captures and channels, it’s also rapturous, a kind of exaltation of the spirit that might dwell within our marred and fleeting forms.
My second choice for this small collection was more of a shot in the dark than the first one, but not a completely blind choice.
The song is “I Flammar Skal Du Eldast” (which, my Norwegian friend eiterorm tells me, means “In Flames You Shall Age”) and it’s the first single from an album named Element by the Norwegian group Orkan (Norwegian for “hurricane”), which was formed in 2008 by Taake’s live guitarist Gjermund Fredheim and ex-Byfrost drummer Rune Nesse. The lineup is completed by bassist Sindre Hillesdal and frontman Einar Fjelldal (ex-Gravemachine).
I chose the track because I was an ardent fan of the band’s last album Livlaus, and despite not hearing the song before choosing it, I was not at all disappointed. In part, the music is a familiar black metal sleet-storm, a gale of cold, stinging riffs and howling-wind vocals, accompanied by the rapid percussive assault of baseball-ball sized hail. It would be enough to cause your poor cabin in the woods to shiver and splinter. But that’s not all the song is.
There is bleak grandeur in the soaring cascades of melody, and terrible tragedy and groaning pain in the music, too. In addition, the song rocks hard, without becoming any less grim or intense. Overall, through all of its multiple changes (which include the vocals), it’s so impassioned, so sweeping, and so senses-filling that it left me feeling as if every nerve in my body were firing at the same time.
Element will be released on October 5th by Dark Essence Records.