Dissection - The Somberlain
No Fashion Records
Melodic Black Metal
11 songs (45:38)
Release year: 1993
Dissection, No Fashion Records
Reviewed by Tony

Pathfinders, bridge builders, architects of a great musical monument. Dissection are all of these things and more. The untimely death of composing legend Jon Nodtveidt is truly a tragedy given what Dissection were capable of and what they still had in their minds, dying to be written. At least Set Teitan is still at it with Watain, who with Lawless Darkness are far more appreciated than they previously have been, all of which they deserve. Classic status is measured in the influence and perfection of the music etched in the annals of metal, and rest assured, The Somberlain is certainly the epitome of classic, displaying all and everything fans of Melodic Death Metal, Black Metal, and all in between will love forever and more. The Somberlain has been released and re-released many times. I have the most recent edition, but will only review the first tracks from the original 1993 release. Very rarely does a band debut with a classic. Yes, ask a hipster what his favorite bands are, and they'll say old this or old that, but to come out with a debut as staggering as The Somberlain in a genre of metal not visited before, with such titanic songwriting and incredible musicianship on all fronts is mind blowing.

The Somberlain is not an album that's going to cram extra minutes of song down your throat for the sake of length. While some songs are long, they never exceed their welcome. Starting off this opus is Black Horizons. This might be the longest song on the album and it's one of the most progressive, encompassing several quick time changes. An intro of shortly over 2 minutes welcomes in the vocals of the late great Jon Nodtveidt. I always enjoyed his vocals. They're at just the right range, they're solid, powerful, and dark. His lyrics are another great aspect to his vocal performance. Some of them are not concrete, just meanderings on the blackened plain in which his soul wanders at this moment. There are some clean vocals in Black Horizons that are absolutely beautiful. They go along nicely with the softly strummed melancholic riffs before finally leading them back into Nodtveidt's harsh vocals. Black Horizons may not be as heavy or as relentless as Night's Blood but I do feel that on the Somberlain are darker, more brooding, and less heavy attack is the Dissection favored.

The second song is one of the most powerful, dark, and moving moments in all of Black Metal. The title track rolls in with a progressive and scintillating intro, before once again opening up with Jon's vocals. They are especially blackened on this song. The album as a whole is a tribute to the lost legend Euronymous, with The Somberlain title track most likely the eulogy that should have been read at his early funeral. This song is incredible, and while I should have done more to find better adjectives to describe such a masterpiece, there's not more I can do than just gawk and stare with open eyes at how perfect The Somberlain truly is.

There are short acoustic interludes laced in between longer songs. Dissection are especially skilled with this. In all their work (at least their first two albums) they work their classical guitars with ease, throwing these relaxing yet dark patterns seamlessly into the big picture, providing yet another hook to lead into the wonderfully worked songs. One of the most disconsolate pieces to the tapestry is A Land Forlorn. This song mostly maintains a mid paced tempo with great axe work. A Land Forlorn has its moments where it kicks it up, but it mostly remains a departure from the usual formula. This song fits perfectly on The Somberlain but I'm not sure if it would have slayed on Storm of the Light's Bane. While each album is different in its approach, both albums contain the classic Dissection sound. And that's the beauty of the short but phenomenal discography of Dissection. They favor a more introspective, bleak atmosphere on The Somberlain but the music is equally as incredible on both efforts. It's truly a shame that Nodtveidt's works, and life, ended with Reinkaos.

While the guitars of Dissection aren't there for scorching solos, there is a great guitar solo that is the perfect length and amount of shred to whet my appetite and satisfy it on In the Cold Winds of Nowhere.

The Somberlain starts and finishes with a solemn, darkened, yet electrifying splendor. It is one for the ages, and a perfect addition to any Black, Death, or in between Metal fans collection. This is a timeless masterpiece that will live on, and certainly keep the name of Nodtveidt, and his music alive long after his soul has descended and his bones have withered.

Killing Songs :
It's a classic isn't it???
Tony quoted CLASSIC
Vrechek quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Dissection that we have reviewed:
Dissection - Storm of the Light's Bane reviewed by Crash and quoted CLASSIC
Dissection - Reinkaos reviewed by Alex and quoted 54 / 100
Dissection - Maha Kali reviewed by Daniel and quoted no quote
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