The Konsortium – Rogaland (2018) REVIEW

Embodying the fertile fjord-slashed coastlines and bays of South-Western Norway, The Konsortium‘s modern and meticulous approach to progressive black metal on ‘Rogaland’ seeks a genuine connection with the land of rye-eaters, the Ryfylke. Old Norse spirituality is invoked through sheer work-ethic a less with old traditional sounds as the band’s second full-length is a bold, enticingly crystal clear and futuristic undertaking. ‘Rogaland’ is delivered with an avant-black metallic propulsion system that is even more polished than their 2011 self-titled debut but the less-than-serious tone is abolished in favor of region-appropriate stoicism. Though no shortage of blackened, thrashing avant-metal exists in Norway’s modern extreme metal climate, on ‘Rogaland’ The Konsortium display great focus, marvelous attention to detail and ultimate listenability compared to their suggested peers.

Pieced together to some degree around 2003 it wouldn’t be until 2008 that The Konsortium had grown enough heads to spawn their original demo and it was impressive enough to land a record deal. The resulting self-titled release in 2011 made great use of some key additions; The first being Teloch (Morten Iversen) best known for his entrance into Mayhem around their 30th anniversary with his technical guitar work on ‘Esoteric Warfare’ as well has his long running black metal project Nidingr. His inclusion added a greater precision to The Konsortium as well as his own distinct blend of classic Scandinavian extreme metal influences. When I suggest that ‘The Konsortium’ didn’t feel entirely serious some of that comes from the session work from Kvelertak/Djevel vocalist Erlend Hjelvik though the mix of thrash metal riffs and avant-black metal ideas is a more reasonable distinction. It was not a bad album but felt a bit close to bands like Vreid and Sarke at the time. ‘Rogaland’ could not even slightly be accused of being a black/thrash release.

With nearly a full seven years between releases Member 001 (Fredrik Fugelli) has seemingly used every spare moment to perfect a grand sense of momentum akin to modern Enslaved while still tapping into the challenging black metal aggression of Teloch‘s approach in Mayhem and Nidingr. The three guitarists are an army of riffs on ‘Rogaland’ with techniques referencing Satyricon, Emperor, Dissection, Inquisition among others without falling into the trap of ‘riff salad’. Dirge Rep‘s (Enslaved, Gehenna) drum work is an appropriate consensus between late 90’s black metal and modern progressive metal and his pacing drives a high speed, for a frantic mass of guitar work to follow.

‘Rogaland’ is far more technical and demanding a work than I had expected as a follow up to ‘The Konsortium’ and I found myself repeatedly sucked in for ‘one more listen’ as I attempted to analyze it. The pompous and occasionally melodic heart of mid 90’s black metal is certainly there so, it is not a purely mechanical recording. I’d say it falls somewhere between the intensity of ‘Storm of the Light’s Bane’ (or alternately ‘IX Equilibrium’), the urbane dissociation of Urarv, and the polished progressive tendencies of more recent Enslaved records. The album’s theme is quite interesting in that it means to not only celebrate Rogaland itself but convey the constant struggle between man and nature; Rather than suggesting or insisting up a ‘harmony’ or balance a clash of elements is expressed. I think the mix of field recordings, folkish elements, and the polished Norwegian brutality of the music corrupt and defy each other fittingly.

Across about a month of casual listening I found ‘Rogaland’ increased in value over time. What began with some random previewing lead to extended listening sessions and I think I’d started to feel that it was something exceptional in quality around the third full spin. The Mayhem-ic riffs initially pulled me in on tracks like “Skogen” and “Stormen” but from there the album dives into Taake and Vreid-like experimentation. I would suggest previewing “Stormen” and “Arv” to get the scent of Norwegian black metal and then “Havet” for the albums more epic and relaxed side.

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Artist The Konsortium
Type Album
Released June 1, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Agonia Records’ Bandcamp! Follow The Konsortium on Facebook
Genres
Black Metal, 
Progressive Metal

To faint, and see ravens fly. 4.0/5.0

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