Vintersorg - Till Fjalls, del II
Napalm Records
Blackened Folk
Disc 1: 9 songs (51'21") Disc 2: 4 songs (24'59")
Release year: 2017
Vintersorg, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

I am not going to waste another paragraph professing my inclination to accept most of Vintersorg’s musical output (a fancy way of saying I am a big fan). Those of you who read my earlier reviews of this Swedish band/project headed by Andreas Hedlund are well aware of my allegiances. It would be no surprise to the readers then that, as Vintersorg wrapped up their progressive era and moved back into the blackened folk or folkloristic black side of metal, my liking of Vintersorg albums was rediscovered. In succession, beginning with Solens Rotter and then Jordpuls, Orkan and finally Naturbal Vintersorg has been steadily shifting to his origins. Those were, in Andreas’ own words, to do black metal based on folk melodies with a mixture of extreme and clean vocals. Apparently, the composer felt ready to go all the way back to the roots recently, since the most recent album is called Till Fjalls, del II, recalling the first full-length ever released by Vintersorg almost 20 years ago.

When you call something Part 2 comparisons with the original are absolutely inevitable. As much as I like Till Fjalls I have caught myself not having listened to the well-respected masterpiece in a long while, so I went for a refresher before ever giving del II a spin. I thought that would be a correct approach since I often do that for books if there is a long break between the original and the sequel. Listening to Till Fjalls del I confirmed that album to be both an experiment and huge success. Starting with not outrageously raw black metal approach, infusing it with profound folk melodies sometimes played using synthesizers and keyboards, singing everything in Swedish, ranging vocals from extreme to clean, in the process describing nature’s both beautiful and grim sides – that is what Till Fjalls del I was about and its first 3-4 songs produce impossible to forget hummable moments with their troll melodies.

Till Fjalls del II relies on the same basics, only shows off Vintersorg 20 years more mature, less willing to throw caution to the wind, with much more attention to detail, and probably much bigger budget. First off, his extreme vocals are still of the unusual special throaty variety, which make them rather legible and definitely not off-putting to those who normally don’t like extreme vocals. The man is still blessed with deep beautiful clean baritone, which is immediately recognizable and unique. Both vocal styles overlap seamlessly, used cleverly, all in the right spots. And throughout the album, song after song, the same images of snowcapped mountain peaks depicted on the cover, prove to be the pictures in my head this music generates. The breathtaking and foreboding nature rules Till Fjalls del II.

What changed then? del II production is much more professional and monolithic. Everything sounds more 3-dimensional, guitars are much more muscular with their riffs, bass levels are up (Jokelvaktaren), but it does not sacrifice the synths to be inserted as integral song parts (En valdig isvidds karga drakt). With melodies still high flying and inspired, Vintersorg has significantly advanced in his songwriting and soundcraft. Songs like Lavin are witness how mighty and dark can be combined together, and how more unsettled chaotic Allt mellan himmel och jord crushes into mid-acoustic section with brooding layers to close. Fjallets maktiga mur is an absolutely definitive play on the del I title track, where piano sets things up originally and then a quick blasting dash follows to the land where quiet pauses and harsh explosions alternate.

Having found the means to hone his craft, Till Fjalls del II songs are significantly longer and much more involved than compositions on its predecessor. That makes them, ironically enough, not as easy to get into from the first listen, and probably less individually memorable in the end. del II is the album you need to listen to in its entirety, from start to finish, similarly to Naturbal. You can plug into it at any moment and continue on repeat. At the same time, if you venture in that direction something like Obygdens pionjar will still start running together a bit too much, so the need for something different is there. Thankfully, absolutely Nordic Vinterstorm and symphonic towering Tusenariga strak deliver at exactly the right spot. Just like on the original in Isjungfrun, the use of female vocals by Cia Hedmark, throwing her up against the full force of blackened instrumentation in Varflod is a fantastic find and preserves continuity with the past.

As Vintersorg has lots to say Till Fjalls del II has a whole bonus disc Tillbaka till kallorna. The songs there are even more expansive and sprawling. If anything, this is Vintersorg pre-Till Fjalls, only, again, updated and equipped with modern production. Full bodied and intense, the songs on disc II are even less streamlined, so it was a good idea to separate them out on a separate piece of music. If you feel more adventurous, disc II is something you need to definitely experience, but leaving it out should not diminish Till Fjalls del II main package.To close, Vintersorg circa today feels incredibly strong and profound. His understanding of Nordic nature and ability to translate it into original melodies is unrivaled. If you are not looking for immediate hits and standout singles, Till Fjalls del II provides for days long listening experience bound to uncover more and more depth as you spend time with it.

Killing Songs :
Lavin, Vinterstorm, Fjallets maktiga mur, Tusenariga strak
Alex quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Vintersorg that we have reviewed:
Vintersorg - Naturbål reviewed by Alex and quoted 93 / 100
Vintersorg - Orkan reviewed by Alex and quoted 86 / 100
Vintersorg - Jordpuls reviewed by Tony and quoted 93 / 100
Vintersorg - Solens Rotter reviewed by Alex and quoted 80 / 100
Vintersorg - The Focusing Blur reviewed by Jeff and quoted 86 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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