REVIEW: VINTERSORG – “Till Fjälls: Del II”
Vintersorg is a Swedish band from Skellefteå. They were formed in 1994 and are still going strong. While most of their sound traces its origins back to traditional black metal, they are known for blending in folk influences and melodic passages. Essentially, it’s a two-man project with a bunch of session musicians chipping in.
Lyrically, their early work dealt with paganism and nature but later transformed into more denser subjects like astronomy and cosmology. The new record is a follow-up to their landmark 1998 release called ’Till fjälls’, which roughly translates into ‘To The Mountains’
With the new album ‘Till Fjälls: Del II’, Vintersorg are back to nature and its mystic ways. “Jökelväktaren” kicks the album off in a frenzied but comfortably familiar black-metal blast beat driven shredfest. The vocals are sung in Swedish. At the 3 minute mark, the folk metal influence shines strong and for a second, I thought I was listening to Finntroll. The next track to greet our ears is “En Väldig Isvidds Karga Dräkt” which harks back to medieval times. Acoustic passages grace this track with alternate clean and harsh singing. “Lavin” is as close to a Vintersorg ballad as you can get, but never lets the intensity dim down.
“Fjällets Mäktiga Mur” features one of the best piano intros that I’ve ever heard on a song. From there on, the song takes a step back and sits comfortably in the folk metal mold. The only issue I have is that it feels safe. In a sense, too familiar, and I expected a bit more variation amongst tracks. “Obygdens Pionjär”, “Tusenåriga Stråk” and “Allt Mellan Himmel Och Jord” run in a similar fashion with brutal black-metal assault pummeling faces with passages of wonder and beauty. It’s a standard affair, and enough for any fan of the genre to feel satiated. The standout track for me was from disc 2 of this 2 disc release. I have always been attracted to pagan sounds that sound very emotional and personal. “Svart Måne” is that track for me. I was all on board with this track and it will easy be one of the best tracks to be released this year.
Andreas “Vintersorg” Hedlund, the mastermind behind this project, brings us a fitting follow-up to the iconic 1998 release. Supported by axeman Mattias Marklund who puts layers of bone-crunching guitar work, this new album does what it was meant to do. It’s important to understand the context of this album in terms of how Nordic music has historically been made. This album transported me to the icy mountains of the north. I could picture the northern lights, the melancholy and how significant the winter is to humanity as whole. There is some beauty in the dark and the chill landscape.
It is interesting to see how consistent the sound is on this record. It is not too polished which in this case, works well since black metal was never meant to be a polish sounding music genre. Vintersorg‘s ‘Till Fjälls: Del II’ stands on its own as a unique piece of music, while comparisons may be made to its predecessor.