Varde is the full-length follow-up to the Norse Black Metal act Gjenferdsel, and what a solid second album this one is. While many people are raving about excellent bands in this style able to create a very eerie aura atmosphere in their works, or stand out because of the production being raw or too polished and things of that nature, Gjenferdsel manage to keep things simple with this release by creating an album that has the general production quality one would expect from a metal band these days, all the while sticking to a simple second wave Black Metal formula. Some may say that this style is dying out with the wave of exploration, as well as the quickly growing and expanding third wave Black Metal applicants, but it’s a good thing no one told Gjenferdsel this bit of information since Varde is such a well crafted piece of metal that all fans of the style can readily enjoy.
Varde kicks off with the sound of a fire and a slight musical introduction with guitars and drumming that sounds almost as if the vocalist is bracing to start chanting along in some sort of ritualistic fashion. The fire itself is not too roaring, perhaps one you would expect to hear at a campground with individuals telling ghost stories. This fire sound works as the perfect introduction to the album considering the lyrical content about natural Norwegian aspects and other generic topics such as pain, mostly of the physical kind. It gets your ready for an album that doesn’t come at you in much of a blistering pace, but for a release of mid-tempo Black Metal that doesn’t go too over the top and manages to keep things rather simple, yet strong. While all the general expectations for one of these releases are there, including song structure and the expected rhaspy vocal work common to the style, once in a while the band does throw you a curve ball by throwing in some gutteral vocals, such as on the song “Illverk” and “Vesaldom”. The only real downfall to this is that once you have a taste of this, you would expect, or at least hope, that the band would continue to do this, or the multi-layered vocals on “Illverk” that gave a bit more emphasis during this song as well, but neither really show. Instead, for just about every other song on this release you get the common single vocal style, but it happens to have another layer put atop it that often will not properly line up with the original vocal layer and sound as if there are two vocalists performing the same song but are just slightly off.
Aside all of that, the band simply doesn’t overdo it with their music. Each song on here is a strong stand alone track that doesn’t push the time limits to create a longer album, and there is absolutely no filler anywhere here from “Illverk” to the closing track “Manngard”. It’s hard to sit down and try to pinpoint which songs really make the album as they all are equally as solid. Perhaps the only downfall would be that there isn’t much of a difference between them sometimes. “IllverK’ and “Vesaldom” really stand out thanks to the additional vocal approaches they have, which include the addition of gutteral vocals, and “Desember” which features some acoustic guitar work that come off as a sort of bridge at times within the song and does add to the song which is already great with some fantastic guitar chords and drum work that doesn’t quite compare to some of the other songs off the release. The only odd part about the song that kind of hurts the flow would be the random fade out then fade in that occurs about three and a half minutes into the song before fading out again to officially close the song.
As mentioned, there isn’t much as far as differing aspects of the music outside of the mentioned songs, but that doesn’t mean Varde is a repetitive album. The band has found a steady sound that works for them, and they pretty much just follow through with that sound. Each song on here is unique to the other, but the flow is just so good that it continues right from the first song to the last. While “Vesaldom” may feature some great vocal approaches to the music, songs like “Desember” and “Manngard” just have some great riffs that really set them apart from the rest, and “Intet” is just a great song that, yes, is not that unique a song for this release, but is still a highly engaging track that simply doesn’t let up or stop the pace it has from the start until the very end of the song.
In the end, Gjendersel presents a well composed Black Metal album that is solid from start to finish with no filler, and a flow that doesn’t get lost anywhere on this release. It’s rare to hear such well done Black Metal without any gimmicks or trying to experiment with other styles in today’s age, which makes this album a very welcome additional any metal fan’s library. Gjenferdsel is a band that you simply must make yourself acquainted with, and is a band to keep a close eye on with great expectations for future releases that are as solid as this one.