Review Summary: Kvlt!
For 25 years Shamaatae has been pillaging and plundering the black metal landscape under the Arckanum banner. The Swedish one man horde attacked the scene ruthlessly with three stellar releases in the late 90's before disappearing for 10 years. After coming back in 2008 he left a trail of bodies in his wake with 3 EP's, a split, and 6 full-lengths, with Den förstfödde dropping a few months back. Today I'll be focusing on the past with his second release Kostogher. A blistering, frost-bitten assault from start to finish.
The album opens with the strongest track Skoghens minnen vækks. It begins with a howling wind sample in addition to the hooting of an owl, the clanking of metal and the angry ramblings of a man that sounds like he's forging weapons of war in the icy wilderness for the battle to come. Drums enter the fray and soon so do the guitars, building up gracefully before Shamaatae's vicious vocals enter the mix. The track picks up in aggression and speed briefly before slowing down again for the masterful melodic dirge to take over. Violin and clean vocals are also incorporated on this track, helping fuel the epic atmosphere to even higher proportions while setting the listener's blood on fire. It closes with a somber guitar solo yet it doesn't feel like the battle is over. This is just one track and although it's far and away the most dynamic and memorable song on the album the rest of the record is pretty hard-hitting too.
Tracks 2-5 are unrelenting black metal numbers that lack the experimentation but retain the strong balance of intensity and melody of the opening track. You'll find plenty to headbang to especially on Et sorghetog with it's galloping riffage . Some of the clean male/female yelled vocals on the record at times fall flat but at other times add to the record's charm. It depends on the song for me but they don't do enough to detract or add points to the record, they're kinda just there. After track 5 you're greeted with a folksy, wintery instrumental called Gamall uvermark. It opens briefly with female vocals before the violin, owl and the wind samples return, subbing the anger for melancholy. This sequence reminds me of that one Game of Thrones scene from season 7 where The Hound revisits the farm of the father and daughter he left to die and with all the accompanying feelings of sadness and guilt. This instrumental runs for 3 minutes before the album returns to it's true nature. And what a track it could lead into. Oþer trulhøyghda is my second favorite on the record which features a similar template to the opening track minus the violin and wind samples. The tempo breaks off into a slower section before a man's clean vocals are layered with what appears to be a demon's, adding a nice theatrical touch to the track. It thematically could be of a man losing himself to the beast within or it could be a vengeful man fighting off a clan of trolls who murdered his family. It doesn't matter the theme because Kostogher stimulates the imagination quite easily. You can just project your own scenario with the music. That same looming dirge from the opener crawls out from the grave to make it's presence known once more, lending more inspiration to your own twisted storytelling .The 5 remaining tracks are more of the same but feature enough nasty riffage, one more violin cameo and a bag of candy corn catchy hooks to keep you entertained.
Early on in his career Shamaatae proved to be a formidable force in black metal which makes it all the more surprising that his earlier albums aren't as circulated and renowned as many of his peers and countrymen. Regardless of that, if you haven't heard Kostogher already I suggest you to get on that as soon as possible. This is ice cold black metal with fiery passion and adventurous songwriting. What's not to love"