Friday, September 11, 2015

Isvind


Isvind - Gud
Folter Records, 2015
Genre: Black Metal

1. Flommen
2. Ordet
3. Himmelen
4. Dåren
5. Tronen
6. Boken
7. Giften
8. Hyrden
9. Spiret





When I saw Isvind announce the new album I approached it with a bit more caution, since I wasn't immediately enamored with "Daumyra". However, when I finally heard a sample off it I was immediately interested! I thought the new track sounded really good, so I planned to definitely pick this album up. I was also surprised to see that it looks like Isvind has rounded out the ranks and no longer approaches the band as a two piece.

The catchier riffs I lamented missing during "Daumyra's" straight forward approach are back in force for "Gud". This is more of what I was expecting as a follow-up to "Intet Lever". That stark Darkthrone influence, which has been ever present is certainly back, but I feel like there's a bit of Tulus in the mix, especially with the female vocals showing up in a few tracks. The opening song had a surprising intro that sounded almost uplifting, until we get to the real meat of the song and then that ravishing grimness in Isvind's sound came out loud and clear. If you're lamenting this change from "Daumyra", there is still a presence of the Kampfar/Immortal blend throughout the album. It's just been further blended with their original sound. I think this blending of styles is what makes Isvind great, because Isvind has always had a very strong writing style, so I usually find listening to the band quite enjoyable. The fact that we've got a really strong blend of bands I really like makes Isvind stand all the stronger and sets Isvind apart from their influences.

So, if you were slightly disappointed in "Daumyra's" sound, then I recommend paying a visit to "Gud", which, I think, most people were expecting the follow-up to sound like. It's a wonderfully cold and majestic album. At this point, I am happily looking forward to what Isvind will produce next.


Isvind - 1993-1994
Kyrck Productions, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

Nivelheimen 1993:
1. Intro
2. Over Blaamyra Steg Kongen
3. Dauingene ut av Underverden Steg
4. Om Natten Flyr Fanden
5. Nivelheimen
6. Lysningen i Skogen
7. Nattens Vingeslag Bryter Stillheten
8. Skyggeskogen
Herskerinnen 1994:
9. Intro
10. Herskerinnen
11. Aasgaardsreien
12. Vinteren, Min Herre
13. Kvite Ætt's Seier
The Call of the Icewind 1992:
14. Falling Down Into the Heat
15. Haunted by Demons
16. Eit skrik i ei kald natt under ein morbid, kjølig og sølvglittrande måne

If you missed out on the Isvind demo material like most people then in usual Kyrck fashion, you're in for quite a treat. I really like Kyrck re-visiting the past with their demo re-releases. I would also venture that getting the material direct from the band is better than any of our 20+ year old tapes at this point! So, for me, the sound quality alone makes this compilation worth getting. You get some of that tape hiss feel in some songs, but overall it's a lot better than my old tapes. The only rather strange thing is that the last track on "Herskerinne" "Lyset Flakker..." is not on this re-release. The real bonus to this release is the material from 1992 when the band was originally called Ice Wind. I was rather interested in hearing this material, but could never really find it anywhere. Now that I've heard a few songs off that original demo, I can see why the band wasn't interested in re-releasing all of it. The material is pretty and still sounds rather poor in quality. However, "Nivelheimen" and "Herskerinnen" still stand as strong demos for the band. I still wish some of these songs had been re-recorded for their studio album... ah well.

Isvind - Daumyra
Folter Records, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Kast Loss, Brenn Alt!
2. Burn the Kings
3. Blodstorm
4. The Dark Traverse
5. Djevelens Svær
6. Myra
7. Speculum
8. Klabautermann






When I saw Isvind was entering the ranks of Folter Records, I was immediately pleased. I usually quite enjoy the material Folter publishes, and I assumed Isvind is a band I would continue enjoying. So, imagine my surprise that upon getting "Daumyra" on my desk, I really didn't enjoy it immediately.

Upon re-listening in more detail, I think it's because this album doesn't have the same level of hooks "Intet Lever" had built into it. "Daumyra" is strangely absent of this kind of riffing. Except when Darkthrone takes over in the song "The Dark Traverse", but for the most part the album takes on a more standard Norwegian Black Metal feel. For some reason I get the impression that a lot of Immortal has been infused into the bands sound. This certainly isn't a bad thing and upon second listen I'm finding "Daumyra" a lot more enjoyable than I did in my initial experience. "Myra" has some really good moments that catch me, but for the most part the album didn't really grab or demand my attention as starkly as "Intet Lever" really did.

I  think the problem with "Daumyra" is that a lot of people may write the album off as something they've heard a million times. In quite a few ways, that's rather true, but that doesn't change the fact that "Daumyra" is still a well written album. In fact, it's probably a lot closer to the "Dark Waters Stir" style than what appeared on "Intet Lever". In many ways this is a colder and more chilling release, which might coincide with the water and ship concept art. Unfortunately, I think people might write it off too quickly. I did wind up enjoying it, but I think I still like "Intet Lever" a bit more.


Isvind - Intet Lever
Self Released, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intet Lever
2. Kjølhalt
3. De Dødes Maskerade af Synd
4. Pisslunka Kjøtt
5. Vaginamaria
6. Dommedags Grimmtunge Slegge
7. Hjemsøkt
8. Himmelfjell







Based on the track I heard with the split, I would say "Intet Lever" is a rather pleasant surprise. Even more surprising is that this was self-released by the band. However, this is a professional release through and through, so don't think this is a demo of any kind. The musicians behind Isvind have been around for a while and they clearly know how to record a quality product.

There are a lot of things I really love about "Intet Lever" and a lot of that stems from their ability to create some really killer catchy sounding riffs while still maintaining an incredibly cold atmosphere. Since Darkthrone has really moved away from playing their brand of Black Metal, I feel like Isvind is really continuing their saga and not in a copycat/re-hash fashion as most bands perform, but due to Isvind's age, I think they understand how to move the methods forward. Just listen to that opening riff on the title track that really hooks you in. It's so incredibly perfect. This kind of excellent riffing shows up all over the album as in tracks like "Pisslunka Kjøtt". To show that their earlier folkier elements aren't lost to the raging Black Metal the majority of the album exhibits we come across "Dommedags Grimmtunge Slegge" which bears a distinct Satyricon/Kampfar vibe. So, there are some decent variations and elements thrown into the mix, which really makes "Intet Lever" a very powerful sounding release.

I had the pleasure of seeing this band live in Montreal and it was wonderful. They played a lot of material off this album as well as some of their earlier stuff. I was truly hooked on this project when I got to see the title track performed and they've probably solidified a fan for life if they can really keep producing music of this quality! Cold Norwegian Black Metal still breathes strong within the realms of Isvind!


Orcrist / Isvind Split
Hearse Records, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

Orcrist:
1. Intro
2. Det Hedenske Norge
Isvind:
3. Entropi











Side Orcrist: ...coming eventually... maybe...
Side Isvind:

After a massive hiatus with Isvind since 1997 the band finally returns with this split with Orcrist. Sometimes a break for a band can be a much needed endeavor, but with strength of "Dark Waters Stir" it was kind of sad to see the project come to a close with such a strong debut. I wasn't really expecting the band to pick up where they left off, but this is also a sort of unexpected direction for Isvind. The Black Metal has a lot more "rock" elements in there a la Darkthrone or maybe even some Khold, but not nearly as groovy as Khold, much closer to Darkthrone. I thought the song turned out okay for the first foray into the world of Isvind again, but it's rather different from the "Dark Waters Stir" style. I'll be interested to hear where the band goes with this return.

Isvind - Dark Waters Stir
Solistitium Records, 1996
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Ulv! Ulv!
3. En Gjennområtnet Hytte
4. Stille Sjel
5. Lysningen i Skogen
6. Dark Waters Stir
7. As Rane Comes Down
8. Bankeånd/Poltergeiste






"Dark Waters Stir" finally brings us the debut full-length from Isvind. As I mentioned earlier, I missed out on the earliest Isvind releases as they were coming out, so the copy of "Dark Waters Stir" that I own is the re-release in 2012 by Kyrck Productions. The re-release has the cover from the 7" along with the 7" as a bonus track. It even has a song from the "Herskerinnen" demo tape. This is definitely a bonus, because having the EP on a CD is totally worth it.

As I explore Isvind's back catalog I conjure up all kinds of nostalgic memories of enjoying the first Dødheimsgard, early Gorgoroth, Satyricon and more. If this had been released in 1994 Isvind probably would have been a name typically found amidst the legends since it is not markedly different in style from the second demo. Further making Isvind's career a little more unknown was the inactivity after this album was released. After this album we don't hear anything from the project for many years. Considering Solistitium releases weren't the easiest to get in the U.S. in the 90's, it's no wonder I wound up missing out on this excellent project. On this release we get mostly new songs, with Isvind not conjuring up too much from their early demos. However, I was excited to see them give studio treatment to "Lysningen i Skogen" from the "Nivelheimen" demo tape, since that was one of the stronger songs on that tape.

So, if you're looking for a very authentic Norwegian Black Metal release straight out of the early 90's style, then "Dark Waters Stir" might be an album you missed out on as well. It really is on par with the great projects I referenced above and if you liked their albums, there is no doubt you will find merit in this as well.


Isvind - Isvind
Solistitium Records, 1994
Genre: Black Metal

1. Isvind
2. Herskerinnen
3. Et Slag mot de Veike...













Here Isvind finally brings us some studio recordings released by the now legendary Solistitium Records. This is released on 7" vinyl and I'm sure its limited, but my copy doesn't list anything about it.

Isvind brings us two songs, one brand new and one re-recorded from the "Herskerinnen" tape. The new song is very good and very much in line with what we heard on the previous demo. In fact hearing the studio version of "Herskerinnen" only emphasizes how much I'd like to hear the entire demo get studio treatment. Alas, we only get one, but it's very well done. While this approach to Black Metal had been well established over the past few years, Isvind certainly do the genre justice and show their writing to be on par with the already established great bands. Definitely worth hearing.


Isvind - Herskerinnen
Yggdrasil Productions, 1994
Genre: Black Metal

1. Rittet fra Muspellheimen
2. Herskerinnen
3. Aasgaardsreien
4. Vinteren, Min Herre
5. Kvite Ætt's Seier
6. Lyset Flakker...










Isvind return with their second demo tape in 1994. While I'm sure this tape is limited, there is no limitation disclosed anywhere on my copy. The booklet is printed on glossy paper and there isn't much to it.

"Herskerinnen" has lost some of that relation to the Viking Metal bands I mentioned before, but it seems to have taken on a blend of old Satyricon and Emperor, which is making this a really interesting and quite a wonderful listen. If this is a direction Isvind is going to be moving for the future, I think we are in for some wildly wonderful Black Metal based on the material we're hearing on this release. The Viking style comes back in a traditional sounding folk song with "Kvite Ætt's Seier". It then proceeds into "Lyset Flakker", which was only an alright song. The demo seems to end on this strange not with songs like "Aasgaardsreien" being a real high mark for this release.

I really liked the direction of some of these new songs and I hope to hear more of that in the future. It sounds like Isvind is a ready for some studio treatment, so hopefully that will be coming our way real soon. They've certainly come a long way since the Ice Wind days already.


Isvind - Nivelheimen
Self-Released, 1993
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Over Blaamyra Steg Kongen
3. Dauingene ut av Underverden Steg
4. Om Natten Flyr Fanden
5. Nivelheimen
6. Lysningen i Skogen
7. Nattens Vingeslag Bryter Stillheten
8. Skyggeskogen








I, for some reason, never heard about Isvind until after the year 2000, which is weird to me considering the legendary status the band seemed to hold when they put out "Intet Lever". Either way, I was immediately smitten with the project and I've tracked down everything I could find by this band, whom has quite a long history. I was never able to locate the demo before this one called "The Call of the Ice Wind", which was also released under the name Ice Wind. The only material I've ever heard was on the recent release "1993-1994" which features three songs off the 1992 demo.

So, here we arrive at "Nivelheimen" the bands second demo and heralds in the name change to Isvind. This comes as a cassette only and there were two pressings, one in 1993 and one in 1994. Both pressings seem to have been hand-numbered and I have the repress from 1994 with #138. The opening track "Over Blaamyra Steg Kongen" is an interesting piece and has a bit more of a folky feel to it and features vocals that are sort of chanted. This is similar to what Enslaved has done and what bands like Storm or Isengard would put out. However, after this we delve into Black Metal that shifts its pacing between slow and melodic with some faster paced material. Some parts remind of what Mithotyn would later put together, but at a slower pace. Since Mithotyn and Isvind were operating at around the same time I imagine each bands demo work probably found its way into each band.  I also feel Helheim and Einherjer were drawing influences from all these bands around the same time. While, I'm relating Isvind to a lot of Viking Metal, I'm not sure "Nivelheimen" would rate as on the same level. The music is very raw and there are Black Metal sections that I feel would be more closely related to something like Darkthrone, which I'm sure is an influence! The opening riff of "Lysningen i Skogen" make that pretty apparent.

In the end its a very solid demo from a promising young band. If you missed those raw years of the Norwegian spirit checking out Isvind demo material will bring you back to those early days real fast. I remember when the vast majority of Black Metal being released was in this vein and it really brings back some fond memories of finding new bands when I was younger.

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