Formed in 1992, Norwegian black metallers Isvind quickly made a potent impression on the underground scene, forcibly nudging acclaim along the way with their opening releases. It is fair to say though that it is from their return in 2011, that the band has really reaped the rewards for their creatively imposing and inventive sound and releases. New album Gud continues that progression with a mighty and impressive presence equipped with a blistering tempest of sound fuelling atmospherically charged songs. It is a dramatic and ravenous encounter full of surprises and uncompromising textures, and a release to push Isvind towards the strongest spotlight within the black metal scene.
As its potent predecessor Daumyra, the new album comes through Folter Records and features Isvind as a quartet for the first time. Alongside band founders, vocalists/guitarists Arak Draconiiz and Goblin, the Oslo band is completed by bassist Skævvtroll and drummer Slää, though Gud features Antichristian of Tsjuder who replaced Slää after he broke his arm just before the recording of the album. The encounter itself is a cold and harsh landscape of provocative sound and expression, and as mentioned a great unpredictability which turns strong tracks into fearsomely compelling encounters.
Gud instantly ignites the imagination with opener Flommen and indeed the song’s very first touch. Angelic harmonies fill and seduce the air, their beauty mesmeric yet with a tinge of the siren about them which is realised once guitars and rhythms erupt in controlled but fiery style. There is instantly more of a ravenous maverick tone to the bass which quickly catches the ear and gives heavier darker depth to the increasingly sonically descriptive track. Eventually it pulls up, gathers its intent and surges with a torrent of magnetic riffs and hostile rhythms bound in magnetic guitar enterprise. The raw vocal squalls breathe discontent and venom but are superbly tempered by the returning angels across the increasingly rabid of the song. It is a masterful start to the album, a proposal seeded in the cold wastelands of old school black metal yet blowing with fresh creative winds.
The rich beginning continues with Ordet, grooves and hooks as ready to engage the senses as the barbarous onslaught of riffs and rhythms. It is a contagious mix, bursts of hostility taking seconds of captivating breath throughout as the guitars continue to relentlessly spin their more refined bait across the sonic and emotional ravishment. The track perpetually keeps attention gripped with every pestilential surge which in turn is disrupted by expectation defeating invention, a trait repeated across Gud and indeed following track Himmelen. Its air, as those before it, might suggest uncomfortable and stark landscapes but its uncompromising presence is a full on charge of musical and emotional rabidity, one uncaging brutality rather than ambient suggestiveness and just as riveting.
Dåren leaps in next with an irresistible rock ‘n’ roll swagger and an addictive grooming to its contagious presence, grooves and rhythms a tenacious temptation and violent shuffle respectively never missing a beat in stirring up body and passions of those it simultaneously and venomously violates. The track is outstanding, and only increases its persuasion when sonic and vocal strains of acidity and imagination spill their taunting bait across its insatiable trespass of the senses.
Both Tronen and Boken create their own striking and pleasure inflaming proposals, the first a malevolent fury which veins its caustic ravaging with melodic intrigue and tempting whilst the second is a bellow of raw musical antagonism also eager to share sharp and invention driven exploits. The guitar craft and imagination across both songs is almost bewitching, their ferocity a tasty and bracing abuse but certainly the sonic endeavour that springs often from nowhere, is the richest key to the track’s triumphs, as shown again within Giften. As the previous track, it too is rampant rancor in tone and presence launched from the darkest ruinous intent. The almost nagging unruly persistence which Isvind installs in a majority of their encounters through riffs and rhythms again just bullies and overwhelms welcoming ears here, their submission rewarded with a smug stroll of flirtatious grooves and swaggering beats.
The album is completed by firstly the mercilessly disorientating Hyrden with its bestial rhythms and cosmic ‘hallucinations’ within savagely oppressing sonic scenery, and lastly Spiret. The final song is as cold and unforgiving in sound and atmosphere as it is virulent in grooves and sparkling imagination, a union of extremes providing another mouth-watering peak within Gud.
Though not newcomers by a long way, Isvind probably has not quite breached the frontline of black metal’s attention. That should change once Gud is set free and brings the genre something rather exciting to chew on.
Gud is available from June 26th via Folter Records @ http://www.folter666shop.de/de/CD/CD-4/isvind—black-metal.html?XTCsid=6nikf1dgnjb2bd4u0e8a90uca1