Kampfar - Ofidians Manifest
Indie Recordings
Black Metal
7 songs (40:39)
Release year: 2019
Indie Recordings
Reviewed by Goat

Since 2011's Mare, Norwegian pagans Kampfar have been on a more than solid run, releasing diverse and interesting albums that pushed their folky style of black metal in a more progressive and experimental direction. Their sound is better compared to the likes of Moonsorrow or Primordial than countrymen like Darkthrone, and Ofidians Manifest (the band's eighth full-length) is another more than solid slice of darkness that deserves more ears. Opener Syndefall is a violently blasting good time that unfortunately also reveals the album's main drawback - the production. Highlighting the vocals and drums to such an extent that guitar lines are often drowned out is hardly ideal for this subgenre, and although it's not quite so bad as to ruin things altogether, it does distract you enough to be a problem.

Fortunately this is quickly resolved by the shimmering opening to the following Ophidian, which doesn't so much push the vocals to the background as feature less of them, the stop-start style of riffage initially doing plenty to grab your attention and the ensuing atmospherically epic tone keeping it spellbound. Some restrained backing choral vocals at the end are downright theatrical in a Rotting Christ sort of way, leading well into the whispering orchestral flourish that opens Dominans - a real highlight of the album thanks to guest vocalist Agnete Kjølsrud (also known as the annoying one from that Dimmu Borgir song) who fits the creepy, witchy vibe perfectly with her gabbling and ululations. And the following Natt is a real throwback, epic Viking vocals over a blackened torrent that manages to be both violent and melodic, like Enslaved in their early-millennial peak albeit given a serious dose of metal steroids in the form of riffs.

From then on things are impossible to criticise, beginning with the slower-paced but just as intense pounding of Eremitt, Dolk's ranting vocals taking the lead but not drowning out the rest of the band, some icy piano adding wintry grandeur with the backing choral vocals. The triumphant Skamløs! and especially eight-minute finale Det Sorte are the icing on the black metal cake by then, the latter indulging more in expansive progginess including more piano and a beautiful cello-backed finale section. Perhaps not the greatest Kampfar album given their rich back catalogue, but a more than compelling argument in the band's favour and another star in a bright constellation, fans of black metal that crosses the prog/pagan border should make sure to hear this.

Killing Songs :
Dominans, Natt, Eremitt, Det Sorte
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Kampfar that we have reviewed:
Kampfar - Mare reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Kampfar - Heimgang reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Kampfar - Kvass reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
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