When an artist so strongly backs the sound of his main band, it's often hard to imagine that artist creating any other kind of music. One such example is none other than Darkthrone drummer extraordinaire, Gylve Fenris Nagell A.K.A. Fenriz. Unknown to most, but while his main band was off creating Norsk Arisk Black Metal, Fenriz was in the shadows, laboring over on his own, personal Black Metal excursion, Isengard. Drawing influence from everything to classic, death and folk metal, Isengard was a unique beast, that released 3 demo's over a course of 4 years. The final demo, Vandreren
was a diverse and unpredictable outing, that never stuck too long in one set direction.
begins immediately, mid-paced hard rock influenced guitar riff, a quite audible bass line and most surprisingly clean vocals courtesy of Fenriz. He has quite a good voice, being able to hit low as well as high notes incredibly well, never attmpting to over extend his range. The music is also very atmospheric, with light, airy, choral chants lighting up the background. Gjennom Skogen til Blåfjellene
is an instrumental track consisting solely of harmonized guitars and background keyboards, once again providing excellent atmosphere. The guitars in this song, while not technical or challenging, are hauntingly melodic and catchy. Another great attribute to the guitars is the fact that while they are harmonized, neither guitar is playing exactly what the other is playing. Each deviates only the slightest bit from the other, creating unique melodies as separate, but joint entities
Ut i Vannets dyp Hvor Morket Hviler
is more along the lines of Darkthrone-esque Black Metal, with harsh, growling vocals, droning guitars and fast, pummeling drums. On this track, Fenriz gets to demonstrate his skill with his growling vocals, which are gruff and phlegmy, perfect for the music being played. Dommedagssalme
is a doom metal influenced track, that opens with crushing, slow power chords and a pounding drum beat. This flows into harmonized chords and finally the verse where Fenriz is singing clean with a heavy reverb effect. This song is definitely the weakest on the album, feeling like it lasts much longer than it's five minute song time.
The 5th track, In the Halls and Chambers of Stardust - The Crystallic Heavens Open
sounds like it could've been directly poached from Burzum's last two albums Daudi Baldrs
with it's medieval influenced keyboard. The simple tune brings images of Dark Age period castles, and knights roaming the land, looking for new challenges to conquer. This is another low point of the album, and really does little for the listener. Fanden Lokker til Stupet (Nytrad)
is another instrumental, but this time, it manages to keep hold of attention, by incorporating many folk influences. The majority of it's main sound is based mostly on Melodic Black Metal, but it also introduces a plethora of folk instruments such as flutes and acoustic guitars. Its a great instrumental track, with dynamics that'll keep the listener entertained until the end. The last track Naglfar
, is another disappointing track, using re-hashed, generic, mid-tempo riffs. Also, Fenriz's voice isn't quite in the key with the music, becoming more and more irritating as the song progresses.
Although not a great album by any means, Vandreren
is a solid demo album, that demonstrates the different influences of Fenriz, not quite shown in Darkthrone. It's interesting to hear how much different Fenriz is when seperated from his main squeeze. From folk flute, to slow doom, to even medieval piano, Vandreren
squeezes them all into one. Its not flawless, perfect or a classic, but the good definitely outweighs the bad, and this album should not go without being given a fair chance.