Norwegian black metal!

Northern Lights Northern Lights - Norwegian Metal Compilation (Rowe) 1996

7. "Mercy Lord" (6:41)
8. "Thoughts" (7:10)
9. "Inmost Fear" (5:37)

Perhaps the best metal compilation that Rowe Productions ever released. For full track listing and review, see review on compilations page.

The Retrun of Black Death Antestor - The Return of Black Death (Cacophonous) 1998

1. "Vinterferden" (1:21)
2. "A Sovereign Fortress" (4:54)
3. "Svartedauens Gienkomst" (4:41)
4. "Sorg" (6:13)
5. "The Bridge of Death" (5:30)
6. "Gamlandandet" (6:14)
7. "Kilden ñ Lik En Endlos Elv" (6:23)
8. "Kongsblod" (5:49)
9. "Battlefield" (5:58)
10. "Ancient Prophecy" (8:00)
11. "Ildnatten" (2:04)

I must just be getting old because most of the newer forms of metal are unappealing to me. Antestor are from Norway and play modern black metal. Their look is that of Kiss after being caught in a severe rainstorm. (Corpse paint) Their music is like death metal played at the wrong speed, with some keyboards thrown in to add some melody. If you mixed Alvin from the Chipmunks with Cookie Monster, I'm sure he would sound much like these black metal vocalists. All this being said, there are times when I pull this disc out and am enthralled by the mix of violent metal with the majestic melodies of Norwegian folk and classical music. I guess it could be said that while Antestor stand on their own, they are following in the footsteps of fellow Norwegian black metallers Emporer. I am holding onto this disc as I am told it went out of print almost as quickly as it went into print. Cacophonous, a label rooted in sincerely Satanic philosophies finding out after the album was released that Antestor's lyrics were rooted in Christian faith rather than hatred towards all things Christian. Who could tell?

Antestor - Det Tapte Liv (Endtime Productions) 2004

1. "Rites of Death" (3:45)
2. "Grief" (3:33)
3. "Last Season" (3:45)
4. "Med Hevede Sverd (With Raised Swords)" (4:51)
5. "Det Tapte Liv (The Lost Life)" (2:46)

This was the highly anticipated new release from Norway's Antestor! The first 1000 copies pressed are in a Limited Edition black matte box with a debossed, black Antestor logo. The box is designed to also house the upcoming full-length DigiPak, once it is released, thus completing the set. Subsequent pressings of the EP will not be in the box. This is very elaborate packaging, especially for a Christian release. Musically, the band continues in a similar mode as their last release, "The Defeat of Satan". The music is extremely fast and heavy, but also melodic, if that makes sense. All the songs are dynamic and contain many different tempo changes. For example, "Med Hevede Sverd" is an incredibly fast black metal number but has a melancholy bridge right in the middle of the song. Three of the five tracks here are jaw-dropping fast, while the other two are a bit slower and a bit more ethereal. The opening track "Rites of Death" will be on the upcoming full-length, although in a different mix. The other four tracks are supposedly unique to this EP.

The Forsaken Antestor - The Forsaken (Endtime Productions) 2005

1. "Rites Of Death" (2:49)
2. "Old Times Cruelty" (3:56)
3. "Via Dolorosa" (5:09)
4. "Raade" (3:28)
5. "The Crown I Carry" (4:52)
6. "Betrayed" (4:21)
7. "Vale Of Tears" (5:52)
8. "The Return" (4:47)
9. "As I Die" (4:51)
10. "Mitt Hjerte" (3:18)

This is one of those albums that was hyped to the hills as "one of the greatest black metal releases ever". Certainly among Christian metal fans many were touting "The Forsaken" as "...the best christian metal release of the year and one of the best ever". I almost hate when albums are raised on a pedistal like this because those are some pretty high expectations to live up to and most do not. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this disc. "The Forsaken" may be a bit overtouted, but it is a very good disc. Since I am not the biggest black metal fan, I can't give any really good comparisons, although I have read that "The Forsaken" is a mixture of of recent Crimson Moonlight with Cradle of Filth. OK, sounds good to me. All I can say is that this is an enjoyable disc. It has a very dark, cold, melodic sound, however it is also quite heavy, fast and punishing at times. Each song seems to have a plethora of sounds and emotions with a ton of dynamics. Sometimes the drum work is dizzying. Drummer Jan Axel Bloomberg's (aka Hellhammer) is a legend in black metal circles. As usual for black metal, the vocals are of the troll-attempting-to-sound-evil variety, however for the most part I was able to make out the lyrics. My only real complaint is the same as it is with all black metal, the songs just lack a hook. As soon as you turn this CD off you can't remember even one song that you've heard. There is nothing in any of these songs that gets stuck in your head; nothing catchy, nothing to sing along to, nothing memorable. I suppose writing hooks is something that black metal bands couldn't care less about, but then again, that's why I am not that big of a fan of the style to begin with.

Omen Antestor - Omen (Bombworks) 2012

1. Treacherous Domain (5:22)
2. Unchained (3:57)
3. In Solitude (4:34)
4. The Kindling (5:25)
5. Remnants (6:01)
6. All Towers Must Fall (6:48)
7. Torn Apart (4:19)
8. Tilflukt [instrumental] (3:42)
9. Benighted (4:52)
10. Mørkets Grøde (6:00)

Black metal is a bit of an anomaly for me. Though I can appreciate the musicianship and the adrenaline charged speed, for the most part I find most black metal to be lacking and boring. Unlike traditional heavy metal, thrash metal, doom and even death metal, black metal is not about songwriting. It's about attitude and atmosphere! It's not even all that heavy. As it's been explained to me, "Black metal is more harsh and abrasive than heavy." Despite a life-long love of heavy music, I find very little black metal that grabs or holds my attention.

Black metal as a whole is almost as much about the extreme hatred of Christianity as it is about the music. Satanism and paganism seem to be tolerated equally in black metal circles, while anything even remotely outside those narrow walls is not tolerated, especially if a band espouses Christian ideals. Antestor are one of those bands that hold to beliefs outside the accepted norm. As such, they are probably better labeled extreme metal, than true black metal. Frankly, I find it ridiculous that people hold to these rigid definitions of what black metal should and shouldn't be. It is whatever the artist decides it should be. Ideologies and labels aside, it's the music that is important.

"Omen" marks the return of Norwegian extreme metal band Antestor, whose last album "The Forsaken" was released in 2005. When Antestor's "Omen" arrived in my mailbox and I popped that CD into the car deck, I was pleasantly surprised. "Treacherous Domain" opens the album. In two words, this song "kicks ass". The song has a killer opening that continues to build anticipation until the song takes off like a rocket. Once the song takes off it's a blur of guitars, drums and wooooaaarrrgh vocals, though there are some twists and turns to the song to that keeps it from getting boring. There are keyboards as well, but they aren't the focus of the song and only add to the overall sullen and gloomy atmosphere. "Unchained" follows up with another fast fury of double bass, guitars and gravely vox. However, the band mixes in some clean vocals this time around, which is actually a bit off-putting at first, only because it's so unexpected. "All Towers Must Fall" is mesmerizing and creates a morose atmosphere. The song delivers a message about the brevity of life. There seems to be a lot of extreme metal band's mixing folk music into their music. "Tilflukt" is a short folk instrumental that acts as a intro to the mostly double-bass driven "Benighted".

As would be expected, the musicianship is beyond reproach. To simply play that fast and accurate, even for four minute spurts, requires more than just talent. It's requires skill and endurance. Much of the music on "Omen" display that skill and endurance. "Omen" definitely accomplishes what it set out to do. It is progressive, post-black/extreme metal that paints a dark, sullen landscape with lyrics that offer hope.

Back to Index