Stilla - Ensamhetens Andar
Nordvis Produktion
Black metal
7 songs (47:21)
Release year: 2014
Reviewed by Charles
Surprise of the month
A very good choice for my first black metal review of 2014, if I do say so myself (Hail Spirit Noir don’t count). Listening to Ensamhetens Andar, the comparison that makes the most sense to me is the Fleurety’s Min Tid Skal Komme. Not that the sounds of the two albums are all that close, but I mean just in terms of approach: this is an album full of quirks and curiosities, but without ever feeling separate from the ethos of classic Scandinavian black metal. In fact, the band features essentially the same lineup as Bergraven with the addition of lead vocals from Andreas Petterson (Whirling, De Arma, and others). I have never really connected wholeheartedly with Bergraven’s experimental version of black metal, but Stilla’s music is in some ways equally as strange, while tending to pack in more melody and more hooks.

Indeed, it is a complex, sometimes even chaotic album filled with polyphonic harmonies and mischievous synth elements. Opener Vandring Utan Spår is a jagged and curious track punctuated by sudden shifts in direction. It opens with a clean, clear bass riff, in an awkwardly shifting time signature, before ratcheting through various other gears ranging from a laid-back quasi-symphonic bit to a blistering, synth-string enhanced black metal acceleration. Later on, that opening bass riff resurfaces, played by the whole band this time, as a disorienting climax which simultaneously invites and defies head nodding. This is followed by the title track, which is again highlighted beautifully by the rich keyboard tones before giving way suddenly to a whimsical acoustic guitar interlude. The taut harmonised leads gives an almost Krallice-like feel but the chanting vocals have an ominous Euro-Satanist feel; then when the lovely 70s mellotron drops in, once again shifting the tone, I decided I just had to go with it.

So this is in some ways a ‘crowded’ album, with a lot of ideas going on (albeit none that ever leave the confines of black metal). These things are thrown together without bothering too pedantically about seamless precision, but rather with what seems to me like deft spontaneity. Album centrepiece Själavrängaren is the shortest track and also the most violent, reminding me of the irreverent ferocity of Funeral Mist or somesuch. Viciously fast riffs pile in, sometimes one on top of the other so as to assail the listener simultaneously. At the other end of the spectrum there is album closer Skuggornas dop: a tense and uneasy track, filled with plaintive, multi-layered lead lines and blip-blip sounds nicked from Burzum’s Dunkelheit. This is quite an album; chaotic and freewheeling, but also laden with pleasing black metal hooks.

Killing Songs :
Själavrängaren, Vandring Utan Spår, Ensamhetens Andar
Charles quoted 85 / 100
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