Domgård – Ödelagt

Rating: 3/5
Distributor/Label: Carnal Records
Distributor/Label URL: http://www.carnalrecords.com/
Released: 2017
Buy Album: https://domgardband.bandcamp.com/track/delagt
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/DOMGARD/

Band line-up:

Vindkall – Guitar, Synth & vocals,
Mardröm – Guitar & Vocals,
Hrimner – Drums & Vocals,
Askr – Bass & Vocals.

Track Listing:

1. Niþanvarþa
2. Svartdjupets Lockelse
3. Töckenhöljt
4. I Geirröds Hall
5. Aldar Røkkr
6. Kynjagaldr
7. Ödelagt
8. Lögr Óðreris – Urblodets Trollmakt
9. Grottkvinnans Hemlighet
10. Sejdmannens Förbannelse
11. Förgånget
12. Ødhe Vi

Review

The trouble with a lot of metal, in general, is an over-reliance on aggression. Now that may seem an odd statement to make, considering metal is known particularly for being an aggressive genre. Make no mistake, the aggression is absolutely necessary, lest the music sound half-arsed. Rage is a fundamental requirement in this genre that we love. But there comes a point where a lack of inspiration results in it all becoming an almost incoherent blur – just writhing guitars, blasting drums and incomprehensible vocals. Yet, when bands broaden their horizons and songwriting palette, things can really take off.

A solid piece of black metal should at its core, channel aggression in spades. But that only sets it up as solid. Is solidity all you’d want from the genre? If the answer to that is in the affirmative, then you’re a very easy person to please. But what will it take to drag merely “good” black metal to “great”? How about a consideration for writing something music? Celebrated forefathers EMPEROR can be cited as a classic for combining the unbridled rage of black metal, with hints of melody and emotion – theirs is almost the blueprint. So on only the third outing in the band’s entire twenty-year history, how have Sweden’s DOMGÅRD fared?

“Ödelagt” ostensibly draws influence from the genre’s early heyday, with shrill guitars whirling away atop both blasts and grooves, amassing about gurgling shrieks. So far; black metal 1-0-1. “Svartdjupets Lockelse” sets the stall out nice and early, with snaking tremolo guitar melodies and reanimated corpse vocals assaulting the senses with verve – its’ chaotic aggression laying the foundations for the vast majority of the album. All very well and good, but it’s on the rock ‘n’ roll-influenced “I Geirröds Hall”, the noisy “Aldar Røkkr” and the stellar epic “Förgånget” where DOMGÅRD hit their stride.

In fact, it’s the latter where the (black) magick truly takes hold in a classic case of “ember to inferno”: slow and smouldering to begin with, eventually erupting into full-on black metal hellfire towards its centre, before dying down in achingly beautiful melody. A sprawling, sixteen-minute epic will always be welcome on any metal fan’s album, but it’s especially welcome when it actually has the feeling of a journey being traversed. It’s this added dimension that provides another sense of focus, that makes for a far more compelling listen. When considering the album in its entirety, it seems to be more prevalent in its second half.

There’s the feeling that DOMGÅRD had to hit a few checkpoints on their way to completing “Ödelagt”. The aggression is perfectly fine, as are the melodies on offer (be they the snaking runs to begin with, or the sprawling, emotive ones later on), but it feels at times really rather familiar. Perhaps the aforementioned blueprint has adhered to a little too closely? It’s no bad thing, but one wonders what makes DOMGÅRD stand out from the pack? It’s only a feeling that creeps up every now and again, but it does nag somewhat after repeat listens.

At the end of the day, if you’re looking for an hour of no-frills black metal to soundtrack the dark nights of winter, then you could do worse than listen to DOMGÅRD’s “Ödelagt”. It’s light on innovation, but heavy on aggression and makes for a compelling channel for catharsis. It’s varied enough to avoid becoming stale, with elements of rock ‘n’ roll, noise and ambient woven into the classic black metal fabric, whilst the execution presents a band filled with passion for their craft. On the evidence displayed here, DOMGÅRD’s twenty-year existence culminates in something both strong and dark – like a dependable whisky.

Review by Lee Carter
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