- Band(s): Dødsfall
- Label(s): Drakkar Productions
- Release Format(s): Cassette, CD
- Release Year: 2022
- Review Date: March 4, 2023
- Author(s): Para Bellum
Swedish based artist Is (a.k.a. Ishtar) is now the only member of Dødsfall judging by the line-up listed on the band’s sixth album ‘När mörkret är på väg’. His former bandmate Telal, a Norwegian drummer, left the band. So the band is actually Swedish now, not Swedish-Norwegian (according to Is in an interview with Metal Jacket Magazine he has “never said that the band is entirely Norwegian”). Even though Is is Mexican-born (this, by the way, explains the presence of a song in Swedish about Xibalba on the new opus – ‘Dödsfärd genom Xibalba’ i. e. ‘A Journey through Xibalba’). Nevertheless, if the material of the previous album ‘Døden skal ikke vente’ could be described as an attack of the second or whatever Norwegian Black Metal echelon, well, something in the spirit of Taake, Tsjuder and Urgehal, then on their (his) new album Dødsfall offer (offers) really Swedish Black Metal. Almost.
The thing is that Is made a move not only in space, but also in time: from the very first song ‘Helveteselden’ we hear echoes of old-school Swedish Black Metal, in particular early Dark Funeral. No less often, especially in the second half of the album, you can spot the influence of Dissection, primarily in the solo parts, the most revealing songs are ‘Skogen vid nora änden’ and ‘Isborg’. While Norwegian old school Black Metal can be found, if only in the mentioned ‘Dödsfärd genom Xibalba’ – it has something of Immortal in it as well. Now dissonance, which is actively used in modern Black Metal, is not particularly in demand among Dødsfall: a fast almost atonal riff in the final part of ‘Nattens svarta djävlar’ and an opening one with atonal guitar picking in the spirit of Mayhem in ‘Evighetens onda salar’ – that’s probably all. Yes, there is little that breaks the old-school atmosphere here.
The shrieking vocals are also a bit reminiscent of what you could hear on Marduk’s albums before. However, Is often sings/declaims with a clear voice (‘Helveteselden’, ‘Skogen vid norra änden’, ‘Isborg’ and ‘Dödsfärd genom Xibalba’). Add to this that keyboards are used on ‘När mörkret är på väg’ sometimes (‘Helveteselden’, ‘Nattens svarta djävlar’, ‘Isborg’ and ‘Evighetens onda salar’), as well as acoustic guitar (opening Bathory-like picking in ‘Helveteselden’ and the flamenco passage at the end of ‘Götaland’). There are a lot of blast beats on the album, but on the whole the tempo changes several times in the piece, and we are witnessing both high-speed outbreaks of fury and melodic slowness. Well, here are the main elements of Swedish Melodic Black Metal gathered.
For all that, Dødsfall accepted thrash metal tinges in guitar riffs noticeably. Starting with the first ‘Helveteselden’, the palm muting technique in Thrash Metal attitude is used quite frequently throughout the album. And the matter is not limited only to it, Dødsfall quite often enter the territory of Blackened Thrash Metal like early Absu – the sixth ‘Götaland’ is the most indicative in this regard.
However, Is did not stop at bringing only Thrash Metal into his music. No less often we hear Heavy Metal touches on the album, the matter is that such riffs are not so easy to catch and identify due to the evil and raw guitar sound. However, the finale (including the solo) of the first song is almost clear Power Metal, ‘Nattens svarta djävlar’ also has a Heavy/Power Metal lick, and so on until ‘Dödsfärd genom Xibalba’, which being the most mysterious (while very vicious) unexpectedly ends with Heavy Metal technical feats.
Stylistic abundance and melodic richness is best demonstrated by the third ‘Skogen vid nora änden’: it cannot get an acceleration for a long time, but finally picks up the pace, while harmony and consistency are preserved at any speed. There is a lot of old-school Swedish Black Metal touches in this song, even Swordmaster comes to mind at speed, there is also an abrupt transition to a typical Swedish tremolo picking lead line here, while the final solo reminds of Dissection. But on the other hand there are plenty of palm muted riffs here too: the song opens with an evil almost pure Thrash Metal palm muting. In addition, ‘Skogen vid nora änden’ is full of Heavy Metal elements. As contrasted to it, by the way, the last ‘Evighetens onda salar’, also filled with passages from different genres, does not sound so harmonious, and what is more obvious – it is clearly overlong.
‘Døden skal ikke vente’ was recorded, mixed and mastered by Tore Stjerna, so it would be interesting to compare the new album with it in terms of production. Of course, what was created in Necromorbus Studio was a little softer, cleaner and noticeably more distinct. In his turn, Is also kept his end up when mixing the new work (right, he did everything himself): ‘När mörkret är på väg’ has a fairly clear production, it is not a raw D.I.Y.-recording at all as is usually the case with numerous one-man Black Metal projects. Nevertheless, it would be better if Is created his new opus in the previous studio, after all, this material is quite technical to refuse the services of a more experienced sound engineer.
Perhaps Is wanted to add some rawness to his new creation, which seems quite natural due to the acquisition of an old school tendency to his material. Yes, there is something in the combination of ornate music and rawness, this is an interesting maneuver. However, the drums sound suffered a lot because of such an approach: we got these terrible typical modern metal plastic triggered (or even programmed) drums. The ‘Nattens svarta djävlar’ beginning generally creates the feeling of a drum machine: yes, we see a live drummer in the video for this song, but what are we supposed to do with what we hear? Although Tore Stjerna also often gets blamed for such “plastic” drums, he makes the sound much more natural. Much worse is that these “plastic” drums don’t fit well to the rather raw guitar sound.
Summary. ‘När mörkret är på väg’ will appeal to those who prefer both evil and melodic music. Old schoolness is the foremost attraction of the album, although compared to the classical standards the songs are quite feature-packed. It is not certain that the album will be 100% accepted by the fans of the former Dødsfall, but it will help to find new fans.