GJENDØD – SKYGGER FRA DØDSRIKET LP (Darker Than Black Records)
Collating the material from Gjendød’s fourth and fifth demos, ‘Dødsrikets Pinsler’ and ‘Død Manns Skygge’, both of which were recorded in Trondheim in 2017, ‘Skygger Fra Dødsriket’ is a magnificent companion piece to the band’s previous vinyl compilation, ‘Evig Svart Hat’, and also a release that comfortably holds its own alongside the inimitable Norwegian duo’s three full-lengths. With 41 minutes of shape-shifting, prime, uncompromising Black Metal majesty on offer, this release is as good as if not better than most albums proper and Darker Than Black have done an excellent job with the vinyl edition, which sounds superb and looks classy too.
The music is evil and decrepit, bass always prominent as we have come to expect from these fiends, but with all the instruments clearly audible in the mix, feverish drumming perhaps more so than the simple but effective guitar work, sick vocals spreading disease all over the top of everything. In many respects, Gjendød are at their most interesting when they have one foot on the brake, such as on ‘Fra Ei Gammel Grav’ – a slow-to-mid-paced nightmare where atmosphere reigns over aggression. But there’s a mixture of tempos and moods to be found across a decidedly varied and versatile collection of gnarly and earth-encrusted songs.
Gjendød’s sound is certainly unique and elusive, ‘Verden Våkner’ representing a mysterious, obscure and suitably spectral start to proceedings, with lush melodies never far from the surface even though this is primarily quite raw and manic Black Metal. Any sense of ease that is introduced towards the end of ‘Verden Våkner’ is emphatically banished by the harrowing, ominous, tortured ‘Dødsrikets Pinsler’, which I would describe as a nightmarish, almost atmospheric dreamscape, complete with haunting keys and an eerie element of sheer dread.
Strong emotions pervade throughout but they are of the disturbing, unsettling variety as opposed to uplifting or upbeat, ‘Utslettelsen’ a good example of a twisted, depraved and fucked-up excursion, while ‘Død Manns Skygge’ is a more punishing, pummelling affair (there’s a bit of everything lurking here) . Gjendød have an excellent track record of producing incredibly interesting music and this stands as another superb showcase of their deliriously unhinged, warped splendour.