Dismal Euphony - _Soria Moria Slott_
(Napalm Records, 1996)
by: Steve Hoeltzel (
This is an imaginative and adventurous release, one in which the creative forces released by the black metal explosion take on a striking new form. Like many bands, Dismal Euphony augment the basic black metal vocal, guitar, and drumming style with synthesizers, female vocals, acoustic guitars, flute, piano, and so on. But while most black metal bands only rely on such "non-metal" touches occasionally, and locate them at the edges of their sound, these four highly talented Norwegians proudly give such instruments extensive, starring roles in their compositions. Propelled by Austrheim's muscular percussion, their songs are dark mini-symphonies, usually arranged around Elin's excellent, epic synth lines, which sound great and don't overly dominate the mix. Guitar by Ole and Austrheim adds an eerie, buzzing tone, mixed fairly quietly to leave space for the more interesting components of the sound - especially the vocals, which alternate in very creative ways between haunting melody lines sung beautifully by Keltziva (who is female, in case you couldn't tell) and Ole's chilling black growls. It sounds crazy, I know, but it's very thoughtfully done, and it works amazingly well. The songwriting is confident and imaginative, and the arrangements are rich, textured, and inventive - rolling soundscapes blanketed with gently falling synthesized snow, brushed by Keltziva's eerie melodies and the icy gusts of Ole's snarl. "Atmospheric" doesn't begin to describe this stuff, and "wild" doesn't either. Yet all the while, it stays true to black metal's unquiet spirit, as the eerie "Natten Loftet Sitt Tunge Ansikt" attests. "Isgrav, Det Siste Hvilested" does the same. _Soria Moria Slott_ is an awesome addition to black metal's sonic legacy.
(article published 11/18/1996)
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