As time goes on, more and more boxes are checked off when it comes to metal. Initially, something extreme would come into fruition and explode. With a plethora of new inspiration and plenty of unexplored material, genres like black metal could cultivate innovative sounds for decades. We’ve seen black metal be a counterculture to thrash and death metal. Then we’ve seen it start to get incorporated into the things it stood against such as grandiosity and ambiance. Then when it came for the third and fourth wave of black metal bands to start making music, an entirely new breed of black metal band was born. Black metal unto itself, dabbling in atmosphere and venturing into entirely different aesthetics and even forgoing the notions of metal. But what happens when you try to create Black Metal with entirely different sonic elements? An incredibly interesting angle tackled by the likes of Botanist, possibly Panopticon and now Eldjudnir. It’s tough to judge whether it’s good or not, but it’s absolutely unique and interesting.
Eldjudnir have a very minimalist approach to their sound. Very minimal guitar effects, tones and distortions with plenty of breathing room between chords and arpeggios. A very strong and beefy bassline keeping things in line. A drummer that dips his toes in blast beats and huge fills, but mostly keeps things at it’s medium pace. And to top things off there’s strange clean vocals that range from eerie to grunge-esque. The rest of the album is peppered with interesting moments. There’s a wonderful guest spot from Nanna Barslev of the folk metal act Huldre on the track “Skade”. Ultimately, it’s a very low key and possibly repetitive sound, but it manages to flourish with moments you won’t find in any other black metal.
You need to hear this record for yourself. It’s a strange mid-tempo experience. It’s somewhere between seventies Prog Rock such as Yes and Pink Floyd and Gorguts. But even trying to pin it down doesn’t give credit to how involved it is in it’s black metal foundation. The minimal distortion and crisp sounding production lets it transition so seamlessly between moments that it’s hard to make adequate distinctions in their influences. Somehow, it’s fundamentals are simply weird black metal despite being so varied.
So have Eldjudnir found an unexplored niche in black metal despite the logical extremes having been tested by decades of music before it? Is minimalist progressive black metal with clean vocals an untapped market or is this just lightning in a bottle? Either way, it’s a great listen that manages to capture a bleak and dark feeling.
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