The album starts with a curious intro made of weird, ancient-sounding chanting, which really sets the mood for what the band is trying to do. It sounds like they are about to tell us some stories of when the world was a much darker, colder and dangerous place.
What kind of music is used to tell these stories? Some cold, fast and evil black metal riffs alternated with quieter acoustic moments, and vocals shrieking about the shield wall technique or whispering about being born into being an executioner. Kaldvard uses all the good black metal riffs. Maybe these are a bit overused, but this band plays them pretty well and knows how to use them to create an atmosphere. They prove it’s still possible to make great, cold and eerie Norwegian black metal, and still sound fresh with that already very overused style, still immerse you in the stories they are telling.
The best example of their storytelling is in the title track. This is a heart-wrenching 6 minutes dialogue between an accused witch and a judge condemning her to being burned at the stake. Hearing the band directly act out that situation makes it sound completely real, and creates a very raw, hit-you-in-the-guts experience. This is a song that you will keep thinking about, with a chill down your spine and righteous anger at things that really happened, and still happen in some parts of the world.
Unfortunately, the rest of the impact rarely has that same impact. It’s unfortunately short, and it leaves you wishing there were more stories told over a nice black metal backdrop. The other songs also don’t always work. I’m not sure if the chorus screaming “shield wall!” in the third track is ridiculous or kinda works. The last track just sounds more like a black metal-inspired ending theme for a fantasy TV show than an actual sound with effort put into it.
But that’s just a few minor complaints. Overall, this is a pretty good album. It has some good ideas, some nice riffs and a nice sense of storytelling. I’d still recommend you listen to this, especially to the title track.
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