Review Summary: Dissection's crowning glory.
Dissection are one of those bands that strike terror into the hearts of poseurs and produce grins of delirious ecstasy in tried and true metal heads. If you haven't heard this album, rush out and buy it ASAP. It sits up there with Transylvanian Hunger, In the Nightside Eclipse, At the Heart of Winter, and Hvis Lyset Tar Oss as one of the greatest pieces of black metal ever committed to disc.
The production is surprisingly crisp and clean for a black metal album. Everything is extremely evenly produced while still retaining a harsh sort of 'cutting' feeling to the guitars. The drums are triggered and rather echoey and hollow- evoking a sort of live feel to the ensemble of instruments. The guitars are of a slightly thicker tone than the high pitched buzzing of Darkthrone, but serve as a medium to push the intricate melodies into the forefront. Jon Nodveidt's growl is a venomous rasp not too far removed from a more gargled version of Ihsahn's fry croak, pushed into the middle of the mix and serving as more of an extra instrument rather than the role of a 'frontman'.
The crafting and instrumentation of the songs are the reason for the high status of this album. Each song is lovingly rendered into a miniature symphony, taking phrasal riffing to a whole other complex dimension. When there is repetition, it only goes on for a good fifteeen seconds or more before seamlessly sliding into another melody. A certain amount of Iron Maiden influences are present here, such as the melodic flurries in Where Dead Angels Lie and Retribution. The key point here however, is the presence of a multitude of emotions in every song- much like the volatile feel of Beethoven's works. Joy, sorrow and anger can be found in equal amounts in certain points of every song- take Thorns of Crimson Death for example- the triumphant galloping patterns in the beginning slides onto a more dissonant and dispairing set of riffs complemented by drums gradually increasing in density and speed and proceeds to sound more and more pissed off with each transition into another phrase. The song then starts on an upward curve towards the middle in a sort of dark crowing triumph that culminates at the end of the song. Needless to say, renderings like these are quite rare nowadays in the repetitive, boring and cyclic nature of modern metal (cough) Dimmu Borgir (cough). There is no symphonic element physically present in the recording, but the song structures and melodies alone are enough to envoke an epic feeling that many bands try for, but fail miserably. All in all, Dissection's masterpiece is a successful hybrid of melodeath (done right), black metal, and classical music- creating a masterpiece that will never fail to send chills down the spines of metalheads and causing Hot Topic Cradle of Filth worshippers to *** and piss their pants simultaneously in awe.
R.I.P, Jon Nodtveidt.