Ljå - Til Avsky For Livet
Aftermath Music
Melodic Black Metal
10 songs (49:43)
Release year: 2006
Aftermath Music
Reviewed by Kayla

While black metal isn’t usually the first genre that comes to mind when thinking about melody, adding melody to black metal can produce stunning results. Ulver’s Bergtatt is proof enough of that, with its haunting and otherworldly beauty, its atmosphere evoking a dark northern forest. Norway’s Ljå have created the same sort of atmosphere on Til Avsky For Livet, their first full album; while the tone itself is raw and abrasive, the guitars float by, wreathing the listener and softening the buzzsaw effect. Like Ulver did, Ljå have taken the aggressive, evil sound of black metal and made it into something beautiful.

The basic framework of Til Avsky For Livet is fairly straightforward; plenty of tremolo, inhuman screeching, and the standard black metal brand of production. I’m assuming the lyrics are in Norwegian, but they’re so distorted it’s impossible to tell. I assume a good portion of the lyrics are of a Satanic bent, however, given what little I can suss out from song titles like Til Satan and Et barn er Dødt i betlehem. Vocalist Neieurut puts his pipes to good use; although he doesn’t have that much range, with most of the album delivered in that standard croaking screech, what he does do he does quite well. The most variation we get is a few soft whispers in Et barn er Dødt i betlehem and, for some reason, a set of coughs in the title track. I can only assume that it would make sense to me if I understood what the song was about.

Although I’m loath to call any black metal “catchy,” Til Avsky For Livet comes fairly close with a few of its melodies. Each song is richly varied, despite the production putting almost all the listener’s attention on the guitar; Ljå pack every nuance they can into a song, letting the melodies shift and flow one into the other. None of the songs get above mid-tempo, helping to further soften the harsh rawness of the album and let the melodies come to the fore. The only song on the album that doesn’t pack as many melodies and variations into itself as it can is Svart, an instrumental. Svart is more meditative, however, with a slower tempo and a meandering main riff.

Although the guitar melodies generally come through clearly despite any muddiness of the production, the same can’t be said for the drumming or bass. While the latter is not too surprising, given that Ljå have embraced the Treasure of the Sierra Madre approach to black metal production (“Low end? We don’t need no stinkin’ low end!”), the fact that the drums get lost so much is unfortunate. Askeland is clearly no slouch behind the kit, and what we do get to hear is interesting and lays a good groundwork for the songs’ melodies to build upon.

While the production ensures that Til Avsky For Livet will have a more limited appeal than most melody-heavy metal, fans of old school Ulver will probably enjoy this, as would anyone who likes their black metal to take a break from Christraping brutality every now and then.

Killing Songs :
Til Satan, Et barn er Dødt i betlehem, Vådeskudd, Svart
Kayla quoted 74 / 100
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There are 9 replies to this review. Last one on Sun Oct 29, 2006 6:24 pm
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