Isgärde – „Den sista vilobädden”

After a successful debut full-length „Jag enslig skall gå”, and two Ep’s „Ölandsvinter” part I and II and „Eowlandsvintr” compilation, the one-man band hailing from Swedish Island, Öland returned to show he that he had much more talent than he had led on.
There’s nothing particularly catchy about this release, nor anything very immediately pleasing to the ear. On first listen, one primarily grasps the complexity and multifaceted nature of the work before truly grasping the melodies, much in the way that classical music must have its layers pulled back to be fully appreciated. The melodies here are epic, but not in a pleasing power metal fashion; rather, they are more archaic, grandiose, aloof and proud and, perhaps the most stirring feature, undeniably elitist! There’s not a single moment on „Den sista vilobädden” where Somath dumbs down his music for the sake of the listener, and one can truly say that this man is playing for himself and himself alone. The rest of us are merely along for the ride.
The keyboards give the album an epic sound. The keyboard useage is almost flawless. They pop up whenever you think they would. The song structure is very good, letting all of the instruments get their own performance. The guitars are melodic yet evil.While the melodies are listenable and memorable, they are not ‚catchy’ in the conventional sense, as there’s little repetition, and what repetition there is comes in the form of lengthy themes that reappear in a neoclassical motif. There’s some simplistic and melodic single note riffing along with the usual power chords. The requisite black metal picking technique is here as well. You know the one… ! The atmosphere on this album is strong. „Den sista vilobädden” is like a mystical journey. Each song is just another walk, an epic walk. The atmosphere almost works as the emotion and scenery around you as you walk.I don’t know… There is also the acoustic guitars and folk interludes. Isgärde doesn’t use them to death but they are placed within the album. Somath vocals are powerful. The music he sings along too just mixes with his tone greatly. There are also clean/clear and chanting vocals. Just like the folk influences, Somath knows how to mix an album up so don’t expect a huge useage of different vocal styles.
Sound quality here is pretty natural. This was certainly recorded on nice equipment but there is no quantization and no triggered drums. I believe Somath produces all of his work himself! Not a lot of polish but some careful attention to the levels and panning instead. I imagine it was very tedious given all that’s going on here but it paid off. You can distinguish the different layers and tell which instruments are playing what.
Isgärde new album „Den sista vilobädden” is one you don’t want to miss out on. It’s so powerful as each song suffocates you with majesty, darkness, and occasionally a folk type acoustic guitar will fill your ears with a really interesting and medieval sound to it.