Isvind - _Dark Waters Stir_
(Solstitium Records, 1996)
by: Henry Akeley (9 out of 10)
Totally compelling and totally no-frills, this band easily earns comparisons to the mighty Darkthrone and, especially, the latest incarnation of Ulver. It's earnestly impassioned and steadfastly harsh, with considerable clandestine craftiness and no conspicuous polish or pageantry. Blindingly fast, technically adept drumming with great cymbal work underpins an abrasive guitar sound - treble-charged and highly distorted as usual, but with a bit more metallic ring and a bit less wooden buzz than much Ulver and Darkthrone stuff. The riffing technique is basic harsh/fast Norse black metal - no Celtic Frost-isms, and no two-guitar-line stylings. Vocals are also in the standard blackened style, and like everything else on this CD, they're performed well. The mix is fairly rough, but has an overall openness which contrasts nicely with the more cramped tones of many rough-production bands. And as with much material of this harsh and crusty nature, if you let your ears wade deep into the forest of distortion, you'll encounter some pretty interesting sonic wildlife... a consistently deadly interplay between intriguing sonic twists and the insistent, hypnotic iteration of harsh, basic sounds. Very highly recommended - but only for those willing to listen closely for the shimmering sonic traces of something elusive, unrepentant and untamed.

(article published 12/8/1997)


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