Trying to stand out as an original Black Metal band in Norway isn't easy, especially when your band happens to comprised of members with Christian beliefs. So what do you do" Well, you create the most original form of Black metal that you possibly can. That's exactly what norweigan Metaller's Lengsel did in 1997 when they recorded the Black Metal masterpiece, "Solace".
When talking about Lengsel, its impossible to not mention the connection with Extol, seeing as all three members of Lengsel now play in Extol. But before the members would start switching in and out of fellow Norweigan metallers' band, they would go and created an emotional masterpiece which is part beauty and part chaos.
The band was comprised of guitarist/vocalist Tor S. Magne Glidje, bassist John Robert Mjaland, and drummer Ole Halvard Sveen. Tor lays down some very inventive rhythm guitar lines and very appropriate leads here and there. Not much soloing but the songs don't need it, in my opinion. Bassist John Robert plays very interesting and inventive bass lines, a perfect compliment to Tor's guitar parts. Sometimes its hard to hear the bass underneath the wall of noise that Tor and Sveen create, but when you can hear his bass, you'll notice some really good playing that fits perfectly in the songs and carries the sometimes-hard-to-distinguish chord progressions. Drummer Sveen compliments his bandmates well with his erratic drumming, very spastic and fast pace, albeit a bit sloppy, it still fits perfect for this style of playing. He keeps rhythm quite well, especially considering the fact that this band loves to use odd time signatures. Also, Tor's vocals tend to be typical black metal shrieks, albeit very listenable, and sings cleanely from time to time, which is also tolerable.
The album is primarily filled with trebly guitar chords (typical noisy black metal sound), but not the typical chords that you would expect a black metal band to use, you know the ones, the minor chords that play minor 2nd progressions which they use to try to sound 'evil'. Instead of conforming to this cliche, Tor spends a lot of time playing odd and unique chord progressions and spends a lot of time actually playing high chords on the top 3 strings of the guitar which makes for very interesting contrast to the Johns bass lines. Also, through out the album, acoustic parts (very reminscent of early Opeth) show up and piano/keyboard/organ parts as well, all contributing largely to the utterly sad and depressing atmosphere of this masterpiece. And talking about the atmosphere, I cant' help but notice that this album has a very depressing and dark atmosphere very similar to the afformentioned Opeth's third album "My Arms, Your Hearse", and was actually recorded the same year as that disc. There are tortured screams, sad-sounding organs and acoustic guitars almost enough to make one cry, not to mention the lyrics which only help intensify the melancholy mood.
The lyrical subjects on this disc deal primarily with the meaning of the band name, longing and yearning for something more than this world can offer, and the petition of God's love in a world that is cold and apathetic, something very contrary to the typical Black metal which promotes hatred, violence and opposes anything to do with God/organized religion. However, if you are not a Christian or just don't like preachy lyrics, you have nothing to fear, these guys are definitely not preaching here. What they manage to do though, is paint a picture of a fallen and torn world, and the feeling of being overwhemled by sadness and hate.
Now after hyping up this album so much, let me go into a bit of detail of the specific songs so you all can get a taste of exactly what I'm talking about
This is just an intro that is just a bunch of reverb and random sound effects, VERY eerie and leads perfectly into the next track...
This is the first actual song on the cd, and comes at you without warning, a barrage of double bass drums and the sweet tremolo high chords that are prevalent on the rest of the album. This is followed by odd altered vocals and then the onslaught of Tor's tortured black metal screams. This is about the point where the album draws you into its sad twisted world of the morose and chaos and takes you on a wild ride you are not soon to forget. The song finishes up with some singing done by Tor which fits perfectly with the closing chords. 5/5
This song starts out with a harpsichord intro in addition to a wierd soundclip of a woman gasping. The guitars come in and imitate the harpsichord theme until Tor's screams come in over a nifty drum beat. Great song start to finish. 4.5/5
The longest song on this disc clocking in at 7:05. It starts out with a catchy riff and then goes into its odd progression guitar mayhem and carries out through most of the song. The middle of the song slows down and gets into more of a Doom metal mode, eerie soundclips only help the dark mood heighten in emotional tension, very cool. This is also the first song where we encounter Tor's acoustic playing, which, to me, sounds very spanish-inspired, in contrast to Opeth's folk-inspired acoustic parts. After this the song goes back to the main riff/theme and closes out. Amazing song. 5/5
5.Coat of Arms
A spooky piano part opens up this song, sounds like a soundtrack to a murder movie. Shortly after a nice little bass line, played very fast with the fingers comes in as the guitar intensifies the already building crescendo of piano and drums. Blast beats are prevalent in this song and at the end the song shifts gears to an outro that seems TOTALLY unrelated to the rest of the song. Still a good song nevertheless, although my least favorite on this cd (that isn't saying a whole lot considering how great this album is as a whole). 4/5.
Here we are, my absolute favorite song on this cd. It starts out with one of the most saddest and utterly depressing organ parts i've ever heard in my entire life. This is followed shortly after by the usual Lengsel torrent of guitar bass and drums then we get into the main theme of the song which has a piano playing a lead over the rhythm guitars and Tor's clean singing. The next part has Tor screaming over a BEAUTIFUL, again spanish-inpsired, acoustic part and creats a feeling of contrast as he sings and screams at times you would think he should do the opposite, and the drums also the same thing, as Sveen plays a kind of softer blast beat during the acoustic part. The song goes back and forth through these part and finally we get to a stop section where Tor has two acoustic parts playing at the same time, blending marvelously and creating a sound of aural bliss and tranquility. Also, note Mjaland's bassline, which is very catchy and almost dance-like. This is followed by some sweet black metal riffs and closes with Tor's cool singing lines harmonizing with each other. The whole song is sung in norweigan, let it be known. 6/5
7. The World Monotone
This song contains probably the most catchy riff on the whole cd, it is probably the most evil sounding of all the songs as well. Towards the end of the song there is a really cool guitar/bass progression followed by a nice drum pattern to carry it a long. There is also an Opeth-like acoustic break for a moment before being assaulted with more typical Lengsel riffs and closing the song. 4.5/5
8. Avmakt (Paralysis)
This song starts out with a nice blast beat and Tor's guitars chords ripping relentlessly over John's distinct winding bassline. Tor proceeds to do some more clean vocals before more chaos is brought. Eventually there is an acoustic break and more heavy riffs with underlying synths to propel the song into a higher emotional plain. About a bit past halfway in the song, we get to what has to be one of the absolute high points of this album, and that is the piano interlude. Its absolutely stunning. I'm not sure whether its Sveen or Tor who play the piano but its utterly beautiful and is a nice break from all the madness that was prevalent before. After this, a new section of awesome metal riffs kick in, more synths then a return to earlier themes and more acoustic guitars and singing. The song closes with a sweet spanish-sounding acoustic passage and you have now completed your journey. This song also is sung in Norweigan but there is an english translation in the booklet. 5/5
-unique take on black metal
-wonderful mix of melody and madness
-perfect atmosphere to compliment lyrical subjects
-great instrumentation and composition
-I wish the production was a bit better, although it no doubt adds to the mood of the album.
Well, there you have it folks. One of Norway's best kept secrets, I hope most of you will enjoy it as much as I do.