Stridsmenn - Stridsmenn
Northern Silence Productions
Black Metal
7 songs (38'55")
Release year: 2009
Northern Silence
Reviewed by Alex

When listening to Stridsmenn eponymous full length debut my mind fixated on a couple of thoughts all connected with my familiarity with the music subject matter. It isn’t if anyone can look up some history on Borgarholt and Austkrigar, two bands formed by Arnjeir, the sole individual behind Stridsmenn, since both of them were, well, one-man underground bands which released their demos to the narrow circle of friends. Sounds pretty much like Stridsmenn itself. The thoughts circulating in my mind were that Stridsmenn, the album, very much represents the brand of black metal I have heard from Northern Silence before. This independent German label has cultivated this style on its roster, issuing releases by Angantyr, Nasheim and Draugsang, where black metal is not overly brutal, has significant melodic presence and authentic do-it-yourself production, which makes the music sound from the heart.

Saar serves as one great example, an excellent song, building up from the prefacing gloomy acoustic Nattestid, unfolding through the series of melancholic riffs, adding layers of intensity in both drum and guitar department, reaching apex before you can anticipate it. Stridsmenn songs aren’t heavy on fast tempos and multiple riff changes. Instead, like in Sortsorg Vinters Skjebne, they possess primal quality of Taake, grinding and reverberating around one simple riff to pound you into submission. The longer epic cuts, like the closer Dod, are a lot less about the production and orchestration, but instead alternate heroic splashes and choral laments, a little awash in reserved synthesizer melodies.

The other thought that stubbornly did not want to let go was Stridsmenn comparison cycling back to the early Windir days, before Windir became a full band. Just like Valfar (RIP) did it on Soknardalr and Arntor, Stridsmenn has stoic Northern melodies (Boldvatn, Ondskapen Selv), building up to disintegrate into brooding melancholic acoustic moments. Although nowhere near as folky as Windir, Stridsmenn does have those raw energy flashes, also characteristic of the early Enslaved, the extreme passion of Den Sorte Sti receiving unexpected piano splashes. This is not to mention Stridsmenn was also the name of the unreleased Windir song which only saw the light of day after Valfar’s passing. Unlike Windir and Enslaved, Stridsmenn vocals are less edgy, shrill and cutting. Instead, they are coming from the deep cavern, from behind the fog curtain, depressed and dejected, and that is what makes Stridsmenn close to Draugsang.

If my review sounded like a series of comparison points to you, it is because the style played by Stridsmenn was done before, specifically in Arnjeir’s native Norway circa 10 -15 years ago. Nevertheless, Stridsmenn, the album, is quite enjoyable if unrefinely produced melodic melancholy is your thing. It seems to me that both Northern Silence and I have close tastes in black metal.

Killing Songs :
Saar, Ondskapen Selv
Alex quoted 76 / 100
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