Ereb Altor - _By Honour_
(I Hate Records, 2008)
by: Alexandra Erickson (
I didn't know "Viking doom" existed before I stumbled upon this gem. Easily one of the strongest releases from a relatively unknown band in 2008, Sweden's Ereb Altor follow up their demo [_the Awakening_, 2003] with the force of titans on _By Honour_. The vocals throughout are very obviously Scandinavian in their girth and gentle resoluteness. Ereb Altor have been coupled as Bathory worshipers in nearly every review that has been given to them. And while _Nordland I_ is brought to mind when one is listening to _By Honour_, they seem to be a strange menagerie of their sister band, Isole, and Bathory with Agalloch-ian folk and ambiance thrown in for good measure.Opening with a mournful piano anthem, the heavy doom influence is obvious from the get-go. Slow, depressive strains coupled with very folkish acoustic guitars fluttering on distorted guitar waves. The vocals range from soft speaking and chanting to powerful harmonies, showcased magnificently on the title track. There are a few outstanding exhibitions of guitar work, but overall, the pace is kept steady and uncommonly centered around the vocals. Solitude Aeturnus are brought to mind on the track "Dark Nymph", through the marching pace with powerful straining guitars riding over the underbelly of distortion and ambiance one expects in anything akin to traditional doom.This manages to be a doom release for those who aren't familiar with doom, those who get bored with it, and those who can't get past traditional doom. It also manages to quench the Viking metal fans' thirsts, without bringing in an eclectic group of traditional instruments. Almost reminiscent of friars chanting, with low echoes and all, _By Honour_'s vocals remain front and center in this album's presence. I can't find enough to write about this album without sounding trite or repetitive, but please trust me; if any part of you appreciates traditional doom with heavy Scandinavian roots and soft atmospheric foliage, this is worth a listen.
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