In their twentieth year of existence it would be easy to mistake Domgård for yet another re-envisioned take on the second wave of Swedish black metal that pulls influence from orthodoxy. In fact the band originated from that wave of melodic tremolo expression and serious blasphemy; the original line-up infamously went to prison for church burning in 2000 after being inspired by the similar crime spree from their Norwegian fellows. If church burning, hate crimes, and pre-meditated murder was meant to add credibility to dark music then I think I wouldn’t generally bother with it. As much as I admire anti-religious rebellion these old crimes shouldn’t be looked upon as heroic or intelligent acts. To further the attention seeking behavior of the band, their previous logo controversially featured a inverted swastika. I know, a lot of people will read that and just skip this album and, while I understand, it’d be a shame because this is a very good black metal album.
After successful ventures with bands like Grá and Cursed 13 it was absolutely time for Vindkall to return to Domgård after the somewhat lackluster ‘Myrkviðr’ in 2012. On ‘Ödelagt’ the bands identity has returned stronger with a sort of renewed sense of tremolo fueled melody a la Satyricon‘s ‘Nemesis Divina’ with nudges towards Windir‘s epic Viking expression on songs like “Lögr Óðreris – Urblodets Trollmakt”. Fans of Grá may not find much to like here but the halfway lean into melodic black metal styles gives the band greater division from the odd ‘norsecore’ label given to so many Swedish black metal bands.
Though the album is overly long at an hour and thirteen minutes, it never drops so much in quality that I was offended on repeated listens. Sure, I think the amount of variety and excess does give the impression of inconsistency as it plays but that is really more of a throwback to the era where these musicians cut their teeth. Instead of dense concept ‘Ödelagt’ instead relies upon a full range of musical ideas to show their versatility. This well arranged salad of black metal tribute cherry picks the best ideas of the late 90’s and works itself into a furor more appropriate for 2017. I won’t say this is modernist or post-anything as it will largely appeal to orthodox black metal fans and melodic black metal fans alike while avoiding most trending elements in black metal. If given the chance I think this latest opus could impress above most black metal this year; but at the same time I understand political correctness and fear of orthodoxy is sadly enough reason to move on for some fans.
|Released||December 1, 2017|
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