I’ve never been an authority when it comes to post-metal. I’m familiar, of course, with bands such as Sólstafir, Alcest, Au–Dessus and Tombs, but my knowledge of the genre limits itself in bands that tend to use black metal as their go-to sound. I’m also familiar with In Mourning and October Tide though – bands that share core members with Antarktis, a new outlet co-founded by guitarists Björn Pettersson (In Mourning) and Tobias Netzell (In Mourning, ex-October Tide). Jamming together, they created what was the embryo for the band and by 2013 – with the help of vocalist and bassist Daniel Jansson (Ikhon) and drummer Jonas Martinsson (Me the Tiger, Necrosavant) – Antarktis was ready to see the light of day and play some kick-ass post-metal.
‘Ildlaante’ is the debut album by the Swedes, and is set to hit the shelves on October 6th via Agonia Records. It features only 6 tracks, all being fairly long and somewhat complex. You won’t need to listen to this more than once to see that these guys are completely comfortable with their sound and are definitely doing something they wanted to do for a long time. The whole effort is surrounded by a sorrowful and melancholic aura reminiscent of the northern ways of playing death/doom metal. But the melodic elements scattered throughout the endeavor spice things up in a cool way, making the experience feel beautiful and chaotic at the same time.[metalwani_content_ad]
I often say that metal is not just about the music itself. Several pieces need to intertwine to form a good and respectable metal album, from the album cover to the band member’s presentation; and hey, these guys get it. The cover art alone – simple and elegant, yet dark and scary – is enough to transport you into the coldest depths of the northern mountains. It matches perfectly with the musical proposal, and is courtesy of well-known artist Emy Rojas of Arrache-toi Un Oeil. The song “Svalbard” illustrates this in a very competent way, combining the raspy, sad vocals by Jansson with raw instrumentality and several atmospheric elements such as keyboard samples and background choirs to form an interesting, albeit not unique, tune.
Despite looking to follow a singular purpose and not deviate too much from their primary musical objective, these guys actually manage – to some extent – to differentiate each song from the other by adding minor details and changes of pace here and there. While the aforementioned “Svalbard” is somewhat of a compilation of the other tracks, “Notes From the Underground” and the title track merge somberness and aggressiveness. The dual “Cape Meteor” Parts I and II serve as windows to showcase instrumental prowess and some post-modern cleverness.
Production-wise, they’ve done a decent job in the mastering and mixing, even though the drums sometimes seem to sound a bit flat and the bass lines tend to disappear amidst all the atmospheric effects. However, this ends up not being that bad given that there is always something going on in the background; and every song is layered and full of nuances.
Truth be told, I was expecting sheer boredom from ‘Ildlaante’. Instead, I got 52 minutes of pleasant surprises and the realization that not every post-modern group is buried up to their heads with pedantry and pretentiousness. I may not be the best guy to judge where the album ranks among the best post-metal releases in 2017, but I know good metal when I hear it, and this is good! As the promotion says, this is best suited for fans of Cult of Luna, Neurosis, Rosetta, Junius, Bossk, Tiger Lou and such. But I would advise a listen even if you’re (like me) not a post-metal junkie.