Archive for the ‘Dodheimsgard’ Category

Dodheimsgard — A Umbra Omega

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Dodheimsgard first came to broader attention with their debut album on Malicious Records, Kronet Til Konge, in 1995. As a three-piece, including Darkthrone’s Fenriz and the unmistakable vocals of Aldrahn, Dodheimsgard’s first full-length album was fairly straight down the line Norwegian black metal, albeit quite an outstanding effort in that context. The band’s third release was an EP, Satanic Art, which saw an expanded lineup and the beginnings of experimentation that would explode from the gates on the subsequent album, 666 International. DHG broke free from the earlier conventions they had mastered and flung themselves with abandon into a more industrial and progressive approach, developing a sound that would prove distinctive of the many other projects the members were involved with (such as Ved Buens Ende, Virus, and Code). This deviation also heralded much longer stretches of time in between releases. Until last week, it had been eight years since DHG’s last record was produced. In 2015 they have returned, at last, with yet another cerebral avant-garde masterpiece called A Umbra Omega.

To those familiar with DHG’s previous work, perhaps what is most immediately noticeable about the new album is a dramatic difference in production. There is something less primitive and noisy about the overall sound, a spacious dynamic not so reliant upon the midrange as per the Metal Commandments. It is tempting to say there is a cleaner aspect to the mix; yet, this is not to suggest there is an antiseptic or “overproduced” quality. There’s a lot more room and life in the sound than on previous albums. This was undeniably essential; with so much detail present it could all so easily have been lost.

The band’s trajectory towards prog, lined with complex time signatures and a phenomenal density of riffs and movements, is expressed with an even greater unhinged fever than we’ve heard from DHG before. Sinewy attachments to black metal roots remain in terms of the odd blast of violent tempo, but the crisp and clean guitars and vocal styles throughout A Umbra Omega serve to put great distance between the album and even the most recent experimental takes on black metal elsewhere. The restless shifting between musical motifs and demented pace at which this occurs puts both this album and the band itself at the most avant-garde end of the musicians’ other projects.

Demented and haunting chord progressions have long been a signature of guitarist Vicotnik and are, therefore, expected to be plentiful on the new album. The addition of a new guitarist, L.E. Måløy, to the ranks appears to have expanded DHG’s repertoire when they transmute into moments of hypnotic beauty. The dark jazz influences are more prominent and confidently executed. Terghl, the other new member, brings a much different sound and style to the drumming. In this sense, DHG have moved on yet again, leaving behind the industrial elements they experimented with on the previous two albums.

Vocally, A Umbra Omega is a wonderful development. There are still hints of that special tone of Aldrahn’s that made his early works so essential (check out Zyklon-B’s Blood Must Be Shed). Here he has broadened his stylistic range to beef up the experimental feel of the work. His use of effects brings out particularly pleasing results, most notably in some of the more ethereal post-rockish passages in the songs.

To dissect each song here would be overdoing things, as in their great length they swarm with ideas and surprising moments. Expertly and briefly decorated with some unusual instrumental appearances, the high level of detail makes A Umbra Omega something which requires extensive revisitation to appreciate for all of its worth. Dodheimsgard have produced something that reflects stunning creative growth over a vast period of time, suitably epic and twisted in a manner that ensures their uniqueness amongst their peers is preserved.

A Umbra Omega is out now on Peaceville Records.

The Black Captain DJs this week at The Electric Funeral Club on March 25 and Crux on March 28.