Review Summary: Iskald create one of the strongest melodic black metal albums of the decade.
In our not so new millennium, a truly strong black metal release is quite rare. The notorious genre reached the height of its popularity in the early to mid 1990s, with legendary bands such as Emperor, Burzum, and Immortal. Fast forward 15 years, and one will find that the majority of those classic metal bands have now dissolved, have been imprisoned, or are simply releasing ***ty music. One could say that the genre is past its most successful point. There are exceptions, but for the most part these bands have more predominant styles over classic black metal (see Enslaved
). However, deep underneath the outer shell of mediocre and/or experimental black metal, there are some fantastic bands that stay true to classic black metal roots. Iskald
are one of those bands.
are a melodic black metal band from Sortland, Norway. Founded by Simon Larsen (guitar/bass/vocals/keyboard) and Aage Krekling, (drums/vocals) the band has gone through numerous session members since their inception in 2005. Revelations of Reckoning Day
is the band’s second album, released on September 15th, 2008, and is already amounting up to be among the year’s top metal albums, as well as one of the strongest black metal albums of the decade. Their sound is very much like taking the frosty, chilling atmospheres of Emperor or Immortal, the epic Norse tendencies of old Enslaved, and mixing in some of Dissection’s melodic death metal stylings. All of this is complimented by the crisp and clear production, giving tRevelations
a classic, yet current feel.
The album itself is eight tracks (“Endtime” is merely an interlude) of epic, furious black metal, highlighted by fantastically arranged riffs, and Larsen’s aggressive rasps. Granted, there is not anything entirely original featured here, rather Iskald
take everything expected of a strong black metal release nowadays, and improve upon it. There is enough variety amongst the songs to distinguish them apart from one another, whether it be chilling symphonic arrangements, atmospherics, intense melodic riffing, or creepy clean interludes. For that reason, the songs fare very well on their own, and when listened to as a full album.
Larsen and Krekling are admittedly fueled by a love of Norse mythology, as well as the frozen environment of their surroundings, and this is clearly conveyed in their music. Each song has the ability to drop the listener in the middle of a frozen wasteland in northern Scandinavia. One can visualize the intimidating Silhouettes of Viking ships over the horizon
as much as they may feel or experience the insanity of being alone in a dead forest. Larsen’s impressive rasps have the intensity and emotion of a lost, frostbitten Norse warrior. The bass is very well heard, especially for a black metal record, while the kick drums are mixed in highly and thunder throughout the album like a thousand galloping horses, providing the album with a heavy hitting rhythm section. The guitars convey an immediate frosty mood. The keys are mostly used to accentuate these atmospheres, but there are more tan a few moments where they take center stage and add haunting symphonic elements to the music (the highlight being the two minute interlude “Endtime.”). At the peak of its intensity, the album is like being caught in the middle of a harsh blizzard, while its most emotional and melodic parts are more akin to witnessing a gentle snow falling over a vast ocean as far as the eye can see.
In the end, Revelations of Reckoning Day
proves to be an excellent melodic black metal release, especially for such a young band. There is room for improvement (mainly in the originality department) but all in all, Iskald have crafted a very enjoyable release that all extreme metal fans should look into.
While every track is fantastic here, I would suggest A Breath of Apocalypse
and Journey to Hel
and primary standouts, while the epic Warriors of Northern Twilight (pt. II)
is an excellent showcase of everything about Iskald.