Release Date: June 27, 2014
Label: Napalm Records
Two years ago almost to the day, I had my very first Vintersorg listening experience. I was assigned to review the band’s most recent album to date, Orkan – and once I’d heard it, I had to acknowledge my embarrassment for never having checked the band out before. I was really impressed with Vintersorg’s unique sound and the energy of some of the tracks on Orkan. Most of the time, when I review an album by a band I’m not already familiar with, I tend to stop listening to the album for good once the review is published. That wasn’t the case with Orkan; I went back to it numerous times after completing the review, sometimes just to get another dose of “Istid.”
But now, I have to admit that I’m having trouble figuring out what to say about the band’s latest effort, Naturbål – which, incidentally, is the third part in their four-album series about the natural elements. Jordpuls was dedicated to the element of earth, while Orkan focused on air; Naturbål is all about fire. What’s tripping me up here is the fact that Naturbål is so similar to its predecessors, and yet, it’s different in a myriad of ways. It has all the “elements” (see what I did there?) that I loved about Orkan – vocal harmonies, mighty growls, symphonic keyboards, and progressive guitars. The melodies are the kind that stick in your head, and they feel comfortably familiar after just a spin or two. But unlike with Orkan, at some point while listening to Naturbål, I stopped noticing where one song ended and another began. This album works incredibly well as a complete piece; it flows more like water than fire, in fact. There’s really no point in doing a track-by-track breakdown here, since basically every song offers all of the above-mentioned aspects combined in a unique and beautiful way. Start anywhere you want, and you’ll find something to appreciate, whether you’re a fan of black metal, folk, or even classical.
That all sounds pretty great, right? So now comes the part where I have to explain why I’m giving Naturbål a score that’s half a point lower than the one I gave Orkan two years ago. It comes down to something so purely subjective that it’s hardly worth mentioning, but since I’m the one doing the reviewing here, I have to mention it: Vintersorg’s latest effort is heavier on the female vocals than their previous one was, and I’m personally just not a huge fan of clean female vocals generally. That’s absolutely not a judgment of the singer herself, who is really very good; for some reviewers, the female vocals might actually warrant a higher score. Just…not for me. I like my vocals as deep and/or growly as possible, thank you. Luckily, Naturbål delivers quite nicely in that area, as well – there’s really something for everyone here. If you enjoyed Vintersorg’s last two releases, chances are, Naturbål will spark your interest as well.
1. Ur aska och sot
2. Överallt och ingenstans
3. En blixt från klar himmel
4. Lågornas rov
5. Rymdens brinnande öar
6. Natten visste vad skymningen såg
9. Själ i flamma