You only have to take a walk through the forest in Norway it seems there’s every likelihood you’ll trip over a Black Metal band. One such is Dødsengel and this revered outfit have an excellent new album out in the form of Interequinox.
Dødsengel formed around 10 years ago, releasing debut album Visionary in 2009. The pairing consists of Malach Adonai (drums) and Kark (vocals, guitar, bass). Two further albums followed fairly swiftly but this new release is their first offering to the dark gods since Imperator in 2012.
Pangenetor is a rousing opener, well-paced with great riffage, uplifting guitars and Kark’s hellish growls which gradually become more desperate the further even we go. While fitting squarely enough into the Black Metal tin, Dødsengel aren’t afraid to prise back the lid and take a peek outside.
Nor are they a band who feel pressured to stick to the Black Metal template and as such their music is not afraid to navigate at least some unchartered waters. ‘Prince of Ashes’ is full of rasping vocals but what gives the song its intensity are the protracted punishing riffs which labour rather than charge, giving the song a deeper more evil feel and sound.
Dødsengel are happy to loosen the reins too though and on ‘Værens Korsvei’ the tempo is upped. At times Kark almost takes on the maniacal rantings of a goggle-eyed pentecostal preacher, dispensing his blasphemous barbs to anyone brave enough to listen.
The mood is less black metal, and more doomlike on ‘Emerald Earth’. Gone are the usual throaty barbs to be replaced by a husky spoken word around which a myriad of patterned riffs add flavour, the song wandering off into an almost avante garde arena. Kark is howling like a wolf at one point but the whole thing is a resounding success.
Malach dispenses some machinegun drumming on ‘Opaque’ and when the sharpened guitar edges arrive it does sound as though Dødsengel are paying homage to their Scandi heritage and the likes of Darkthrone.
The creative union of Malach and Kark combines to make Dødsengel a rewarding experimental experience. On ‘Illusions’ the track builds splendidly before escalating into a pulsating theatrical climax embellished to wonderful effect by some superb haunting female vocals.
‘Palindrome’ swirls around you like some kind of spiritual being that threatens to suck the very life out of you while on ‘Ved Alltings Ende’ the stench of evil is palpable through the pounding rhythm and eye-gouging riff attacks.
In a decade, among the still compelling arena of Norwegian Black Metal, Dødsengel have established themselves as one of the more eclectic, innovative and masterful exponents of the genre.
Basking under the self-appointed crown of ‘Norwegian Angel of Death’ is truly merited, the progressive approach adopted in a song such as ‘Rubedo’ a pleasure to take in, with some luxurious warm singing, superbly directed and channelled within the maelstrom of bewitching grooves.
It’s difficult to think of too many Black metal acts who would attempt to engage with a song such as ‘Rubedo’ and the fact that Dødsengel do so without inhibition speaks volumes about their maturity and readiness to break down walls and respond to fresh challenges. A commanding militarized intro is accompanied by Kark singing cleanly with passion and honesty. It’s in stark contrast to some of his more blistered attacks and yet this new openness resonates powerfully, providing one of the highlights of the entire album. At seven minutes, the album’s longest track, female vocals again return towards the end to help bring things to a sumptuous close.
Penultimate number ‘Gloria In Excelsis Deo’ is another multi-faceted track with more loops than a bowl of spaghetti, taking you one way and then the next but with confidence levels at such a high that getting lost in the maelstrom is never going to be a possibility.
Having explored a myriad of black corners, a number of which scarcely at times fit within the accepted realms of Black Metal, Dødsengel do at least bow out with the brief but bloody ‘Panphage’ in which that raw evil stench of the sewers sets the hairs in your nostrils dancing like dementers.