Written by: AP on 07/08/2011 23:02:40

For those who miss the cold and grim days of authentic Norwegian black metal of the 90s, but have certain reservations about music that is intentionally recorded and produced to sound as repulsive as possible might be interested to know that aside his duties in Kvelertak, vocalist Erlend Hjelvik has also produced less festive underground music together with Trond Ciekals of Ljå, and Mannevond of Khold and Urgehal fame. The project, which by their own words is black metal infused with a melodic darkness, is called - bluntly - Djevel, which should beg no translation; their debut album is called "Dødssanger", which translates roughly to "Death Songs"; and the artwork accompanying is equally morose, featuring two upside down crosses against distorted blackness. Voilá, with an effective first impression thus, the stage is set for one of the bleakest and forlorn albums likely to be released this year.

But while the misanthropic and anti-religious sentiments are certainly present, so, too, is an appreciation of the pagan and folk metal genres, as well as the acknowledgement that black metal need not sound like white noise in order to be considered kvlt. "Djevelheim" serves as an excellent introduction to the band's sound, pummeling forth with a foreboding, yet weirdly alluring melody that recalls the works of Bathory and old Enslaved. The soundscape is completed by Hjelvik's ferocious shrieks backed by funereal chanting courtesy of Ciekal, descending at one point into a genuinely disquieting mock tape recording of a satanic rite. The dark pagan and folk influences continue into "Mørkefødt" and "Dakvinnenebrant", the former of which balances between conventional slow black metal and faster sections that wouldn't sound out of place on an Amon Amarth record; and the latter of which recalls an early Fintrollish mushroom trance.

But while melodies run rampant on "Dødssanger", Djevel never venture too far from their Norwegian black metal ancestry. Like the crucial bands in the genre's formative years, Djevel, too, capture the aural essence of titanic ice blocks, dead forests and desolate thundras through eerie melodies and prolonged instrumental tremolo passages. The production may not be as ugly, but it sure isn't polished either: the mix is muddy and distorted, but still enables the individual instruments to be studied in detail, making the more traditional black metal songs that have been grouped at the end of the album - "Paakallelsen", "Vi Malte Verden i Sort" and "Paktensendeisatanseie" (try pronouncing it) - sound much more epic and expansive than those of, say, Darkthrone.

Indeed, the success behind Djevel's formula lies in their ability to conjure atmospheres that at once evoke feelings of power, grandeur, and insidious malevolence. At no point, despite subtle injections of, for example, rock n' roll rhythms and other such quirks, do Djevel lose sight of their vision to create barren, melancholic and calamitous black metal that both fans of the old and new schools of true Norwegian black metal should be able to appreciate. But although the band's appropriate moniker, the album's title, the song names, and the lyrics all come in the band's native tongue, "Dødssanger" should not be considered an exclusive Norwegian privilege; the sheer wealth of texture on the beast can be enjoyed even if the lyrics make no sense to you. But suffice it to say that it has once again been proven that only a Norwegian band is able to faithfully replicate this sound.


Download: Djevelheim, Mørkefødt, Paakallelsen, Vi Malte Verden i Sort
For the fans of: Kampfar, Ljå, Ragnarok, Taake
Listen: Facebook

Release date 01.08.2011
Aftermath Music

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