Stilla
Ensamhetens Andar

Apparently a few of the strange Swedes in experimental black metal act, Bergraven, felt like doing something more traditional when they teamed up with their buddy, A. Peterson of De Arma and Lönndom to form Stilla. The project’s 2013 debut, Till stilla falla, was a nice surprise of cold, Polish-sounding (Furia, Mgła) black metal. Ensamhetens Andar continues in that melancholic yet commanding style, but some of their progressive tendencies are starting to show this time around.

The opening basslines of “Vandring utan spår” hint at the quirkiness to come. Hell, just being able to hear bass at all on a black metal album is something of an anomaly in and of itself. Then there’s the acoustic flamenco guitar that they sneak into “Ensamhetens Andar” and lively humppa rhythms mingling with tremolo rage in “Själavrängaren.” And, the mesmerizing way they paint nordic desolation with intense tremolo guitars is a lot like how a doom band works with droning guitars. More than a few moments bring to mind Below the Lights-era Enslaved, something I’m certainly not complaining about. They don’t hit you over the head with any of these elements, but there are enough subtle idiosyncrasies to give this album its own personality. The synths employed throughout have a haunting, vintage quality as if they could be from some classic horror film. It’s not something you hear often in traditional black metal, which despite my evidence to the contrary, is really what makes up the majority of the album…urgent black metal punctuated by tempered passages of hypnotic melancholy, or the other way around depending on how you want to look at it. They effortlessly weave the two together, creating a level of variety and engrossing songwriting that most others lack. Topping it all off are some powerfully stern, Swedish vocals that sound as if they’re erupting out between clenched teeth. It adds a sense of authority to even the calmest moments.

If you’re a more orthodox fan, don’t let the progressive elements scare you away. If you prefer your black metal to be more forward-thinking, don’t assume you’ve heard this all before. They’ve taken traditional second-wave black metal and made something special and all their own with it. Don’t let any of your preconceived notions keep you from experiencing what will likely go down as one of the best black metal albums of 2014.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Adam Palm
March 19th, 2014

Comments

  1. Commented by: Ace Barker

    Solid sophomore album! The debut was damn impressive as well!


  2. Commented by: stiffy

    Ah! I didn’t know they shared members of Bergraven. I was just thinking about that project a few weeks ago. Wasn’t that a one man band or am I mistaken?


  3. Commented by: stiffy

    Nope I’m wrong I was thinking of Beehoover. LOL!


  4. Commented by: stiffy

    And Im wrong on both accounts none of those are one man bands. LOL!


  5. Commented by: gordeth

    Stiffy, you’re not wrong. Bergraven did used to be a one-man project.


  6. Commented by: Stiffy

    I thought but I didn’t think I knew what I was talking about. Lol! Good to know I’m not crazy then


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