Review: Kirkebrann / Visegard “Kirkegard” [Odium Records]

Review: Kirkebrann / Visegard “Kirkegard” [Odium Records]

- in Reviews

At the end of last year Odium Records have released new split Kirkegard between two Norwegian black metal bands Kirkebrann and Visegard. Actually, this is not their first collaboration, seven years earlier they have released together another triple split “Tønsberg 17 04 15” (along with Djevelkult). Once again we are provided with almost one hour of high quality black metal, created for pleasantly hurting our ears.

These two bands have a lot of common apart from two splits together. Both bands are from one Norwegian county (Vestfold og Telemark), both play classical black metal, both have one studio album, both sing in their native language and both bands recorded this material in 2016/2017. Yeah, a lot of common, but still a lot of differences as well. Kirkebrann is a classic example of Norwegian black metal straight from the 90s, with all the respective attributes like satanic views, uncompromising aggression, craving for blasphemy and brutal rawness. Whereas Visegard started to play symphonic black metal and now focus more on the ethnic black metal side without real fondness for church burnings and misanthropic preaching. And when you listen to these six songs from each of the band, you really can hear the difference, their black metal is close, but only in vague concept, both bands have their own views how black metal needs to sound.

First side belongs to Kirkebrann, igniting the spirit of Kirkegard with pure violence and crude muddiness. Almost half-hour is a competent length to really perceive the depth of their music. This music sounds almost unhealthy, so emotionally overdosed and so maddeningly belligerent, that you are soaked under this torrent of hate and fury. And that’s perfectly fine, this music isn’t for spineless sissies, this is fucking Norwegian black metal, what else can we expect from Kirkebrann? In fact, it’s kind of black metal which is based rather on traditional metal than adjacent to death or pagan metal. And it’s still atmospherically engaged, but without moody and pensive breaks (no need for them to create this thoughtful ambiance with the help of synths). “Vederstyggelig Samsara” is based on thrash/speed rhythm, sounding darkly positive, while “Lange Netter” is almost transformed into black ‘n’ roll. We can hear some strange melancholic echoes throughout “Terroritt” and acoustic ending on the last track “Hedensk Dødsmarsj”. But generally this music is full of fast riffs, primitive harmonies and penetrating vocals. Draug doesn’t spare a single emotion while screaming in terrorizing agony, making his voice a nasty and shrill instrument of torture. So simple, so gross, but eventually catchy.

Visegard doesn’t strike as an overwhelmingly aggressive band that survives on church burnings or bloody sacrifices. But still their music lacks progression, sophistication or any traces of complexity. They also prefer to express themselves through monotonous mood and repetitive chords, rarely playing with rhythm. Visegard also doesn’t sound too atmospheric, never stressing their need for mood shifts. So, they are not as aggressive as Kirkebrann, but they also aren’t in good terms with depressive/suicidal direction, focusing rather on primal instincts and folkloric traditions. But their love for pagan melodies and heathen rites isn’t too accentuated, black metal’s part still prevails, but this combo of ethnic and black metal roots invariably creates something unordinary. The most specific moments belong to passages with clean voice (“Hvor Gausta Rår” or “Jerva Jakop”), when the folk side opposes their origins. The melodic shards soften a bit the overall sound, especially when you can hear the sound of acoustic guitar (“Skogsdømt”). There are not so much speedy passages; only “Fortapelsen” hints on something thrash metal-based. But to tell the truth, despite these distant folk echoes, Visegard is much closer to the first wave of black metal (while Kirkebrann is a solid example of the second).

Every band has prepared a surprise for black metal lovers. From Kirkebrann’s side we can hear the mighty Nattefrost and Vrangsinn from Carpathian Forest (who is responsible for the mix of vocals). But Morfeus from Limbonic Art is responsible for all the production from Visegard’s side. This split is carefully considered and compiled, making it wholesome and holistic, despite the diverse musical ideas and philosophical views. But like illustrated on the cover art, it’s all about nature, history and barbaric rituals, this music has a lot of common – to show the human vices in a most aggressive way that, by the way, never change. In spite of all the informational and technological progress, the humanity is still full of shit.

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