Cold Northern Vengeance - Domination and Servitude
Bindrune Recordings
Multiple Styles all underpinned by the Dark Art
10 songs (57'56")
Release year: 2008
Reviewed by Alex

It is going to take you a while to wrap your brain around Domination and Servitude, the first full-length record from the New Hampshire based Cold Northern Vengeance. I know, because it took me seemingly forever to start grasping it, although the answer was right there typed in some ancient font on the back tray card. “This album is a journey with no destination”. Allow me to add, and “this journey has no clear trail, except all of its offshoots lead down the left-hand path.” The duo of Gemini and Heathen created the most impossible blender of an album, combining influences from 80s NWOBHM to stoner to industrial noise and, of course, underground black metal. Spurred by their desire to worship the darkness in the most personal of ways, Cold Northern Vengeance abandons the tenets of any genre in the most possible of ways, meanwhile creating the result so extremely eclectic it sounds almost incoherent, if the album is sampled only a few songs at a time and not in its entirety.

From the opening incantation to the mangling noise of Gnosis, through Rammstein rhythms and black’n’roll riffs of A Dangerous Wayfaring to the creepy crawly howling of Hidden 93, I was never able to fully engage with the album until the monumental A Past Forgotten comes along. The ambient industrial noise track The By-Paths to Chaos always stood like a clunker in a way, throwing brakes onto the fluid northern forest guitar siren which ends Hidden 93. On the other hand, A Past Forgotten, for me anyway, is where Domination and Servitude hits its stride, not to let go again. Its psychedelic Nachtmystium floating introduces several guitar levels in the composition, flagellates and prods itself on, until culminating in a trance, which segues perfectly into The Abraxas Trance, note the fitting song title. The latter tune has fantastic tremolo tone in its guitar, with synth creating depth shadowing along the way.

The apogee of the album comes just one step later, when heroic folky stoner rock Heathen, Heretic, Scapegoat capitalizes on the acoustic instrumental strum of The Shores of New England preceding it. Murky piano of The Black Silence throws the dark arts worshipper prostrate, bringing more power in the percussion department, closing piano sounding like a cold spring rain running down exposed naked back. Communion intentionally circles back to the Rammstein overtones of A Dangerous Wayfaring, repeating the riffs, only the distorted tornado guitar and final trance of Communion dominates the earlier tune completely. The myriad of voices Heathen goes through matches the multiplicity of personalities Domination and Servitude presents.

I absolutely detest myself for the way I have written this review, track by track recite, when the common thread were to be isolated. The latter, however, is impossible to do. If you believe in dark philosophies, equip yourself with the album’s booklet and delve into it alone. Just you and your conscience, undisturbed by the outside chatter. I am not one of such believers, but the album’s second half, coupled with the lyrics, inspired and borrowed from Nietzsche, Jung and Crowley, had me going. Domination and Servitude is like nothing else, guaranteed to polarize and be vaulted to the very top by many likeminded hearts and minds.

Killing Songs :
A Past Forgotten, The Abraxas Trance, Heathen Heretic Scapegoat, Communion
Alex quoted 77 / 100
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