Dødheimsgard - Black Medium Current
Peaceville Records
Progressive Black Metal
9 songs (1:09:37)
Release year: 2023
Dødheimsgard, Peaceville Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

A new album from Dødheimsgard is a very rare treat, the band a gem of the second wave of black metal that quickly found its voice in the more deranged, experimental side of the genre. It's been a long eight years since A Umbra Omega tickled and teased our ears in 2015 and Vicotnik and co are back, a line-up shake-up having seen the departure of Aldrahn and leaving Señor Parvez firmly in charge. He's joined by LE Måløy on bass, Tommy Thunberg (Kirkebrann) on guitar, and Øyvind Myrvoll (Dold Vorde Ens Navn, Nidingr) on drums; hardly a supergroup even for those who recognise and rightfully respect and enjoy the names! Yet you expect great things from the band, a unit willing to let a masterpiece cook until it is ready to be unleashed, and once again, the expectations have been met and pure black magic has been created.

You can trace an experimental line through the band's history, overt wackiness ebbing and flowing across the 666 International and Supervillain Outcast years. And where A Umbra Omega was a carnival of avant-garde splendour, Black Medium Current's murky waters have receded into a deep, dark pool. It's far less self-consciously wacky; there's no saxophone to be found, for one, which some would say makes it questionable whether the band even still count as avant-garde! There is cello (ably handled by Måløy) and plenty of electronic bells and whistles mixed in, yet your attention will probably be drawn immediately to how black metal the band still are, even with a hefty dose of Pink Floyd and avant-prog whimsicisms mixed in.

Et Smelter, for example, opens the album impressively at over ten minutes' length, moves from delicate melody to stirring blackened assault, with some gorgeous piano underlining the atmospheric delights. By the end, which comes much faster than you'd have thought, the synth and guitar interplay beneath almost Ulver-esque wordless crooning in a practically catchy way, feeling earned by the preceding journey. The following Tankespinnerens Smerte builds almost immediately into a yearning, atmospheric black metal piece, tipping over into post-rock territory at moments, seamlessly linking into Interstellar Nexus' more abstract, vocal-driven oddness. Throughout, the metal elements are firmly at the front, electronic backing well-woven into the mix (the production was handled by Vicotnik) and only becoming highlights in their own right when so desired by the band - at the moments of highest effectiveness, such as towards the end of Interstellar Nexus when demented vocals and near-breakbeats join together before being rejoined by the riffing.

And yet the experimental aspects of the album come through strongly too, particularly from It Does Not Follow onward. That piece begins with almost alt-rock smoothness, riffs and synths working well together, and even with blastbeats beneath later in the track it's still a long way from black metal as we know and love it. Snarled vocals and unmistakable black metal sections follow, but still feel a little unreal and odd. Dødheimsgard's magic is in smoothly and naturally mixing these all together, being perfectly progressive without the jarring qualities of the avant-garde. The strident spoken word of Halow is as vital a part of the band's sound as is the spacey ambience of the closing moments of Det Tomme Kalde Mørke. And it's all as melancholic and beautiful as the best of the genre can be, with that added dramatic impact that only Dødheimsgard can have. Abyss Perihelion Transit alone is more effective in its depressive depiction than plenty of other bands have managed in years, with a touch of yearning hopefulness in the backing wordless crooning even as Vicotnik dejectedly repeats "there's no way out of here..."

It's certainly not a happy album, yet there's something ineffably uplifting about it regardless, even with the closing outro of Requiem Aeternum with its lyrics about love being a curse. Misery can be a refreshing bath, something to sink into and wallow in before you lift yourself out of it, and all too often people focus on the initial aspects of depressive music rather than the final, inevitable ascension. Dødheimsgard's music has never felt this much of a journey, something to tide you through the inevitable highs and lows of life, as philosophically relevant as musically, and it would be easy to spend pages talking about both. Perhaps that's a good reason not to complain about only receiving one of these masterpieces every eight years or so; sure, it would be nice to have more, but then would we listen to each again and again, finding something new each time? Another masterpiece, as expected and delivered.

Killing Songs :
Et Smelter, Interstellar Nexus, It Does Not Follow, Abyss Perihelion Transit
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Dødheimsgard that we have reviewed:
Dødheimsgard - A Umbra Omega reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Dødheimsgard - Supervillain Outcast reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
Dødheimsgard - 666 International reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Dødheimsgard - Satanic Art reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Dødheimsgard - Monumental Possession reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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