|Black Metal, Viking Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
May 17th, 2011
Release length: 35:37
Demonaz sets up the Viking Metal influence and lyrical concepts through the introductory track “Northern Hymn”, which is essentially what the title dictates: A viking hymn against acoustic guitars. It sets up a cold atmosphere to the recording, and after a few brief moments of silence, “All Blackened Sky” kicks in with classic Black Metal chords coupled with a strong Viking input to give the song a madatory headbanging vibe with strong music that hammers away at the listener with an epic atmosphere and rhaspier vocals that feel more harmoniazed then a traditional rhaspy shriek. The song never lets up from the moment it begins, captivating the listener with grim passages that are simply epic. This becomes the main vibe of March of the Norse, but other songs take on a stronger Viking presence then Black Metal, and that is where the album truly shines since the background Black Metal input on these songs just makes them sound so much more unique from anything the band has done in the past, as well as becomes something quite memorable and influential to today’s scene for both styles.
“A Son of the Sword” is easily one of the best tracks off the recording, and really highlights why having a strong Viking Metal focus works so well for the group. The music has enough of an epic vibe to it that will bring up concepts of Bathory immediately, utilizing the rhaspy harmonized vocals with somewhat cleaner vocals throughout the song to give off such a strong, emotional sense that matches the darker atmosphere of the recording. The song retains it’s heavier musical sound, and like “All Blackened Sky”, simply does not let up with the listener. The chorus itself becomes as emotionally moving as the entire song is involvuntarily headbang worthy. But even that song will be pushed out of your temporary memory with “Where Gods Once Rode”, which takes some of the Viking Metal concepts of that song and weaves another emotionally spellbinding track with epic chords and hammering music that truly sounds unique, and even includes a brief moment where the music slows down with a great transition and issues in some low voiced hymn chanting that is harmonized to suit the viking style. Of course, these vocals continue to build up the epic sound with the regular vocals kicking in behind, making the whole song just sound phenomenal.
Each track on this release seems to get better thent he last, whether by intensity, atmosphere, or overall epic material. The only problem is that, as it goes on, some of the songs start to sound like they start to sound similar as far as the performance goes, but not necessarly enough to make the album come off repetitive, more in the sense of the band’s relying on a chugging guitar chord approach to the music that doesn’t necessarily do much but offer different sounding chords after a while. “Under the Great Tress” features these kinds of chords that sound unique to the song, but feel like you’ve heard it already since “March of the Norse” and onwards. The band does include some moments during the songs to break things up as well, such as the slower hymn chanting passage of “Where Gods Once Rode”, and even “Under the Great Fires” has a slower build without the harmonazing hymn chants that carries a similar reflective sound, but has some chords that hammer away with the drums periodically that lead into a beautiful guitar solo to ring the music back in. This becomes one of the growing faults of the album, and easily the only fault, but rarely does it prove to be that big an inconvenience given how well the band executes the music and how stunning it all winds up coming across.
Despite all that, the final product of the album is quite overwhelming. The material here is solid, and the production really makes it sounds great. The music is heavy and crushing with the bass audible the background just enough that you can pick up on it, and it helps to make the material heavier. The guitars may sound similar after a while, but the drums manage to retain enough differences to stay a little more unique in the mix, and are at the proper levels as well that they don’t drown anything out. The vocals seem slightly lost in the mix, giving way to the more epic music ont he release, but still clear enough to be audible as long as the vocals don’t go too low. The music itself even retains the kind of atmosphere that one would expect from earlier Black Metal acts, but overall sounds much richer in the final product, giving off a sleep, yet vinyl-like quality to the early Black Metal atmosphere, similar to that of the debut I recording.
In the end, the album doesn’t quite retain as much unique material as it should from one track to another, but the bottom line is that each track here is epic, and will have you headbanging along to each and every song despite it’s faults and your ambitions. For a debut recording, this is a highly impressive album, but it’s the quality that you would expect from such prioneers of the Black Metal scene. The music could do with a little more work, but each track here is solid and will have you headbanging where you sit or stand with the pounding, catchy riffs that give off a true epic Metal environment. March of the Norse is an album well worth exploring, even if you’re not a fan of the style, or even the lineage of the members involved, just to experience some of these truly epic viking homages.
01. Northern Hymn – 0:57
02. All Blackened Sky – 4:28
03. March of the Norse – 3:42
04. A Son of the Sword – 4:41
05. Where Gods Once Rode – 5:12
06. Under the Great Fires – 6:35
07. Over the Mountains – 5:06
08. Ode to Battle – 0:43
09. Legends of Fire and Ice – 4:12
|Overall Score: 9/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.