Review Summary: A swedish band rises above the norwegian black metal scene at its peak
Dissection is one of the most notorious names in the black metal genre; up there with the likes of Burzum and Mayhem. Much like these two bands, Dissection have gained their reputation and fame through cold blooded acts and by releasing what many consider to be two classic black metal albums.
Their first album, The Somberlain
, took the black metal roots and turned them into something more melodic and riff oriented than what the band’s Norwegian peers were doing. In 1995, with Storm Of The Light’s Bane
, the band took the sound created on The Somberlain
, adding slight tweaks and improving on some parts, and created what is considered by many to be the best black metal (or at least the best melodic black metal) album of all time.
Right from the start of Nights Blood
it is easy for the listener to see the monster album his ears are about to consume. The sound is raw, evil, heavy but keeping distinctive melodies that separate it from the basic black metal sound other bands of that time were going for. Nödtveidt and Norman deliver an onslaught of riffs ranging from the classic tremolo picking to melodic leads and even combine both together. There are no more short acoustic songs like on The Somberlain
but rather prog-metal-like acoustic breaks within some of the songs (Nights Blood, Where Dead Angels Lie
and Thorns Of Crimson Death
). These allow the band (or rather Nödtveidt) to show his versatility but without breaking the flow of the album since they are incorporated into the songs (unlike on the last album).
The drumming is just as spectacular as the guitar playing. Öhman delivers blast beats and double bass at blistering speeds to add to the overall heavyness of the sound and to match the rapid barrage of riffs constantly being delivered. But he doesn’t settle for being just another “speed drummer”. Öhman throws in many technical fills that often have him using almost all of his drumset. Songs like Nights Blood
and Thorns Of Crimson Death
could be listened to exclusively for the drumming (but it would be a shame to miss everything else going on in those songs so I don’t recommend it).
The vocals are also superb. Nödtveidt sings in a raspy, high pitched scream. His scream is very strong and powerful and displays a big array of emotions. Anger, hatred and power are easily discernable in every song.
Production-wise, the album is nothing short of perfect. Every instrument is clearly discernable (except the bass but…well…yeah…) but the sound keeps a slight fuzzy sound that will please the fans of black metal. None of the riffs gets drowned in distortion or covered by the drums and the singing is clear, crisp and powerful.
Although the album does sound very straightforward, some parts do take a few listens to sink in. The three songs mentioned earlier all have pretty clear cut, technical melodies that will hook almost any fan of black metal (or even extreme metal in general). Unhallowed
, on the other hand, have a sound that is much closer to classic black metal than those three. They have an overall heavier sound and the melodies aren’t quite as straightforward. Repeated listens will allow the listener to uncover nuances in the heavyness. Small things like a certain lead not played under a certain chord or a lead riff that is a bit lower than the chords being played. Finally, the album’s closer, No Dreams Breed In Breathless Sleep
, is often ignored and thrown in the same category as all the other boring metal-piano instrumentals. If one takes the time to listen to the song fully, one finds a calm, depressing piece that is perfect for closing off the heavyness that has just passed.
From its ominous opener to its calming close, Storm Of The Lights Bane
delivers an intense experience that is raw, heavy, melodic and emotional all at once. Impressive instrumental delivery, powerful vocals and perfect production make this an undeniable classic.