ONDFØDT – Norden
Ah yes, a new album by Ondfødt – what more could a guy ask for on a rainy and windswept day such as this? The Finnish black metal artillery unleashed a fabulous slab of highly intense, deeply atmospheric, and utterly memorable music back in 2019 via Immortal Frost Productions, and judging by the quality of their sparkling new offering, "Norden", they have spent the time wisely since then.
As with "Dödsrikets Kallelse", "Norden" is a musically coherent, focused, and richly textured piece of work that is as atmospheric as it is bone-chilling. While many of the riffs are harsh and ugly, there are countless melodies woven into the compositions that possess a sweeping, grandiose feel and are draped in melancholy. I admire their ability to move seamlessly back and forth between nasty, blistering old-school black metal to something akin to epic yet infinitely dark soundscapes with a lofty vibe to them. The production packs a punch too and walks that fine line between clarity, rawness, and heaviness, so no complaints there as it complements the many nuances and shades within the compositions nicely. My only real complaint about its predecessor from 2019 was that the vocals were not the most dynamic or varied thing present on that particular album, but I find them more interesting and diverse here, and they feel more like a proper instrument this time around as opposed to earlier on. What about highlights then? The rumbling, instantly catchy "Han Bor i Skuggona" and the sinister, majestic title track certainly stand out and are impossible not to find appealing. I should probably also mention that the booklet and paintings/illustrations are superb, and the lyrics are good too (especially the ones for "Natten" and the title track).
Varied but relentless in terms of its thick, massive onslaught of suffocating darkness, this is simply a great, well-composed record that embodies several different traits and aspects of what makes properly crafted black metal so fucking awe-inspiring. I could easily see fans of Ragnarok, Taake, Urgehal, and perhaps even Gorgoroth’s "Twilight of the Idols" loving this output, but the bottom line is that if you are an adherent of the genre, you need this. It is as simple as that.