Sept. 10, 2018


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Listen to Kvalvaag

The Pitch: Norwegian black metal band Kvalvaag take me back to 1992 with the help of Dusktone. FFO: Emperor, early Enslaved, Taake

What I Like: It feels like a minute since I covered a more traditional black metal band, but Kvalvaag provided the perfect opportunity to get back in the habit. Dusktone is a great label for discovering albums with palpable atmosphere and classic 90's aesthetic; Seid just happens to be the latest and greatest example. Clearly insipired by the likes of Emperor and early Enslaved, Kvalvaag combine ugly riffs with organ and other synths to craft a very theatrical experience. They have a whimsical element of sorcery to their sound, and the stage-like presence is further elevated by the semi-operatic, Borknagar-esque clean vocals sprinkled amidst the grim snarls. Topped off with a bow of purposefully minimalist production, Seid sounds unmistakably second wave. This recording does an excellent job of highlighting the strengths and subtleties of the layered instrumentation without the decidely unkvlt sheen of most modern releases.

Critiques: The first 3 songs feel a bit longer than they need to be, though this fits the mold of the sound they seem to be going for. Even the most lauded of early BM releases had their repetetive moments, and this seems to pay tribute to that.

The Verdict: Seid is the perfect example of how black metal is often misunderstood. While there are certainly your in-your-face aggressors like Mayhem, a good chunk of the 2nd wave represented a tenuous and masterful balancing of beauty and decay. With their elegant compositional skills and skillful implementation of piano, horns, and wind instruments, Kvalvaag show a great respect and understanding of this balance. Highly recommended listening.

Flight's Fav's: Mare, I dyrets tegn, Bergtatt

- Review by FlightOfIcarus

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