Djevelkult – Når Avgrunnen Åpnes (2018) REVIEW

Feeding off of the necromantic energy and callous pillars of scraping noise from their scourging forbears Norwegian black metal Djevelkult arose in 2009 with the spirit of celebration for the fall of man and all manufactured gods. No matter how one slices through the deeply blackened truth of the matter mere mention of ‘Norwegian black metal’ creates a host of old expectations and easy assumptions about style. Djevelkult are an admirable example of a project that pulls influences outside of Oslo and represented a greater mixture of high Norwegian art even in their earliest recordings. The strongest influences I picked up on with their debut full-length ‘I Djevelens Tegn’ in 2014 were parsed handfuls of ‘epic’ era Immortal, some of the non-cheese melodicism of early Satyricon, and maybe hints of Tsjuder‘s brutality. The melodic elements were most effective and the guitar work is even more adept on ‘Når Avgrunnen Åpnes’.

“Atomic Holocaust” lights an immediate series of conflagrations incinerating their previous work with wretched confidence. It’s rapturous violence bleeds atop the severed neck of the previous album as a public sacrifice of the same-ness of ‘I Djevelens Tegn’. To manage this greater varietal texture Djevelkult have enlisted guests to further expand every corner of their orthodoxy. More notably former guitarist Kleven (Liktjern) provides guitar on the Windir-esque “En Ny Tid.” Perhaps the most melodic black metal, and thusly most memorable, track “Vredeskvad” features Draug (Kirkebrann) on vocals. The smartly placed handful of guest spots throughout the album effectually elevates the material with greater personality than previous and also provides the familial feeling of tour-mates coming up on stage for a song or two.

The most effective ‘modern’ Norwegian black metal albums find some balance between the ripping terror of the early second wave and the evocative variation of the third and beyond. If one must be regal, tense, desperate, cold, prideful, and a blasphemic warrior atop all else within a 45 minute album then Djevelkult have come dangerously close with ‘Når Avgrunnen Åpnes’. In fact the title track that highlights the strong first half of the album checks every necessary box in one piece. The feeling and performances of this record strike out with greater confidence above all else. In particular the guitar work of Dødsherre Xarim and Beleth offer great variance and a strong understanding, and utilization, of black metal’s greater guitar palette. The only small hindrance to the album’s sound is the mildly distorted bass guitar tone. It is occasionally too ‘digital’ in it’s buzzing and felt slightly flat on a few tracks. I think a ‘punch’ was needed rather than a thud.

With a small backlog of black metal releases intensifying towards the middle of the year it was a joy to discover Djevelkult‘s second album. Their need for orthodoxy inherent in their use of melodic riffing with strong and serious attack echoes my own tastes. The album pleases all beasts in urgent need of black metal muscularity with memorable attributes in equal measure. The cretinous old ways infecting new blood is a joyous event, with young corpses possessed alight with the redeeming sharpness of passionately delivered black metal. ‘Når Avgrunnen Åpnes’ thankfully avoids a sophomoric flatness by the grace of it’s collaborations and strong taste in Norwegian black metal. When previewing I’d suggest starting with the title track, then “Vredeskvad” and “Atomic Holocaust” for a bigger picture of the album’s ambitions.


Artist Djevelkult
Type Album
Released May 25, 2018
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 Eternally at war with God. 3.75/5.0

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