Cold Northern Vengeance
Domination and Servitude

I really, really wanted to like this; an experimental black metal duo from New Hampshire, from a cult label with a history of solid releases? Cobalt anyone? Even more so after reading lots of positive press including our own Scott Alisoglu and a Nathan T. Birk interview of the band in Metal Maniacs that gushed over them.

Alas, this is no Cobalt, but more Caina, and I simply cannot get into this mush mash of ritualistic/ experimental/pagan black metal that simply never gels or delivers songs that stick despite the high levels of ambition the duo display. It’s like they want to be new age Enslaved and deliver a progressive take on mystical, neo-folk and experimental black metal, but it just never works.

Admittedly, things get of to a bad start (not including the spoken word/spell intro “Gnosis”) with “A Dangerous Wayfaring” with its grating chants and the scattershot, choppy riffage that never finds any sort of fluidity-a hall mark for the rest of the album, including following track “Hidden 93”. At this early point in the album, though rather annoyed by the material, I’m still trying to give the band a chance though, a chance that is blown by “Bypaths to Chaos”- a seven minute foray into industrial clanking, yells, samples, FX and programming that was beyond grating. “A Past Forgotten” tries to pull me back in with a more traditional, 10 minute take on somber, doomy, neo-folk black metal and “The Abraxas Trance” has some Emperor and Ulver pulsing amid its sloppily delivered march, but by now I’ve pretty much made up my mind about the album. Which is a shame as the acoustic number “The Shores of New England” is a nice little acoustic number and “Heathen, Heretic, Scapegoat” is a solid, almost pagan metal hymnal-but it’s too little too late and if the best tracks on the album are an acoustic number and a piano instrumental (“The Black Silence”)-that’s not a good thing.

I hate to be the negative Nancy amid all the praise for Domination and Servitude and feel free to call me out on this review that seems to be going against the grain, and check the band out for yourself.  But in my opinion, thankfully Bindrune has Blood of the Black Owl for their occult/ritualistic black metal, as Cold Northern Vengeance, at least to me is a grating exercise that comes across as Enslaved’s ambition, ideas and hues colored in clumsy crayon rather than finite pastels with presence and skill.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 12th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: Chris

    Saw these guys open for Nachtmystium a couple years ago; good stuff, but back then they were more like Xasthur than anything…guess it’s been a significant change since then.


  2. Commented by: Barfneck

    Yeah this band is garbage now. I saw them year’s ago in New Hampshire with Nachtmystium and 1349 and they were straight forward black metal. Then I saw them again last year opening for Watain and they were doing all of this experimental crap and clean singing which the vocalist clearly had no business doing. Too bad, if this band continued down the path they started, maybe they’d have some cult status by now.


  3. Commented by: Tim Dodd

    I love Negative Nancy!!!


  4. Commented by: gabaghoul

    it’s a horrible name, on first read reminds me of I.C.E.


  5. Commented by: Bill Lee

    I think a lot of the superlatives thrown at this album are over the top, but I still enjoy the hell out of it. Any black metal band that starts an Oi! chant (like in “Heathen, Heretic and Scapegoat”) gets some definite bonus points. The album is choppy, no doubt, since the songs all go in different directions, but ultimately it works and just takes some time to get used to. “The Abraxas Trance”, “Heathen, Heretic and Scapegoat” and “Communion” were the tunes I enjoyed on first spin, and they hooked me in enough to appreciate and eventually love the rest of the disc. Check this out folks. It is certainly an album worth listening to and making up your own mind about.


  6. Commented by: .W.

    Saw these guys some years ago at Mark’s Showplace in NH, opening for someone or other. Walked into see Carharts and camo baseball hats on the stage — without a doubt, true New Hampshire black metal. I really wanted to like them as well since I’m from the same area, but they don’t do it for me at all. The singer is a nice guy, though.


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