Friday, 23 August 2013

Armagedda - Ond Spiritism: Djæfvvlens Skalder Anno Serpenti MMIV

ARMAGEDDA - Ond Spiritism: Djæfvvlens Skalder Anno Serpenti MMIV (AGONIA - LP 2004)
Wow… I have just listened to (five times!) Armagedda’s third and final record titled "Ond Spiritism: Djæfvvlens Skalder Anno Serpenti MMIV". And I just cannot believe that it’s been almost ten years since this album came out! Originally I got this album as a promo CD from Agonia Records at the time of its release, but as soon as the vinyl version came out I purchased it, as I’ve found this LP to be so good, so awesome that I just wanted to have it on vinyl, rather than a promo CD, you know… Later it has been re-released a couple of times I think, but I still have that original gatefold LP, which looks and sounds just killer. Erik from Watain was responsible for all the layout and graphics and he did great job; I like the fact that the colouring is so untypical for black metal records… It is not black and white, but sort of brown and generally (especially the booklet for the CD) looks like it’s been an old occult book or something, and it has been smeared with blood… all in all it looks great!
When listening to “Ond Spiritism” I think the first thing, which amazes me is how the sound of the band has matured since the previous LPs. I mean the debut was more or less, but very harsh, very raw and badly produced black metal, then “Only True Believers” was a step forward to it – with better production and better songs, but still very classic and traditional Darkthrone’ish black metal. And “Ond Spiritism” takes another huugggee step forward, musically developing into something almost completely different than “Final War Approaching”. The production is way better; the album sounds quite clean, but with that raw and black metal feeling; it generally has nice organic sound, very natural, of the band playing live and I must say that I really, really like that kind of production… So, forget the low-fi noise from the debut LP. More so, great accent has been putted on the rhythm section here. Drums’ sound is just perfect and the bass is almost dominating in some parts of the album. Somehow the way bass sounds and the role it takes reminds me bands like Tulus and Khold, where this instrument is very well audible and quite often the whole motif is based on its playing. The same can be noticed on “Ond Spiritism”; maybe not necessarily on the whole album, but in few moments like “Helvetestoner” for example. This song begins with an intro played on bass, what already sounds unusual, I think.
Actually “Helvetestoner” is one of my favourite songs from the whole album. I really like that opening riff from it, which is quite melodic and surely it shows that the band was not necessarily doing the ultimate harsh and primitive black metal anymore, but instead went into more original and less orthodox, but still very black metal sound. And that can be even more audible in the second track “Döpt i oheligt vatten”, which really does remind me Tulus. Bass guitar plays very important role, with the guitar riffs being more like a filling to the entire sound of the song, but generally the whole track is quite atmospheric and grim, but in very original way. For sure it is something uncommon. After that “Afsked” sounds like a classic black metal song, straight to the point, accenting on the traditional guitar riffs and structure. And the same goes for "Ændalykt". The cold, grim and eerie atmosphere in these songs is something what makes me like this music especially… it truly is freezing and has awesome feeling, which is underlined by the ghoulish, raspy vocals of Graav (with all the lyrics written entirely in Swedish, while the previous LPs had mostly the English written texts… and I definitely like these Swedish lyrics, as the vocals sound better). Also pretty much the whole album is either midpaced or slow, speaking of the tempos. Unlike the previous LPs you won’t find here too many of those simple, monotonous fast black metal songs, with one or two riffs played in one constant speedy tempo, like it was taken from “Transilvanian Hunger”. I guess “Afgrundsvisioner” is the only exception here, as it provides some outbursts of uncontrolled hatred and speed, but the whole song is more varied and for sure it cannot be described as monotonous, so in the end I think this is one of the best, if not the best, track off the whole LP.
Sadly “Ond Spiritism” is the final album from Armagedda. The band stated that “…We decided after the release of “Ond Spiritism” that it was for the best to put this phenomenon of ours to the past, we felt that we had achieved everything we needed and seen in our dreams. To continue would have been a move in the wrong direction…” and well I can surely respect such decision, when the band calls it quit, if feels that the album they just did will definitely be a pinnacle of their style and it would be difficult, or almost impossible, to come up with something better (or at least as good) in such style of music. Sometimes it is better to finish one chapter, instead of repeating yourself endlessly and fucking the same corpse over and over again, while it rots more and more and smells worse and worse and you know it won’t get fresh anymore. So, in that way I do respect the decision of Graav and A., but from the other hand I remember I was quite disappointed to see this band finished so soon… especially as either LIK or Lönndom managed to capture my attention so much. But well, that’s another story… Certainly though “Ond Spiritism” will remain to me as one of the better black metal records from the previous decade.
Standout tracks: “Helvetestoner”, “Afgrundsvisioner”, “Döpt i oheligt vatten”
Final rate: 90/100

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