Kampfar - Mare
Napalm Records
Black Metal
9 songs (45'20")
Release year: 2011
Napalm Records
Reviewed by Alex

The last time I wrote a Kampfar review for this site it did not come out the smoothest, which was rightfully pointed out by some of the readers. Even though I did feel Heimgang, I got too immersed into trying to describe the fine points, instead of just going with the flow. I will try to correct this while writing about the newest offering Mare and see if it comes out any better.

First off, I am really glad to see that Dolk & Co. now have Kampfar on much firmer footing, Mare being the band’s third release in the last five years. At the same time, their creative process must have been going wheels churning, and all three albums are distinctly different. Mare, for one, at least in my own humble opinion, happens to be Kampfar’s heaviest release, thick with grim bellicose feeling.

Even the band’s trademark Nordic melodies eventually take militaristic plunge (Ildstemmer), their folk-originated blackened thrash made more cutting, grinding away in distorted guitars blaze (Ildstemmer, Volvevers, Nattgang). The folk moments of the album (the beginning of Volvevers and Huldreland) are not easy listening, but instead dark rituals, drums of war calling the warriors to join together in some impenetrable shield wall. The heavy warlike feeling is brought on, in part, by Mare having a wall-of-sound production, so tight, there is not a hole to be punched in the used range of frequencies. If anything, this sounds more Gorgorothian and Hypocrisy than, say, Windir or the Kampfar of old.

At the same time, there is no shortage of dramatic buildups and interesting percussion (title track), or rolling hymnical songs invoking the souls of heroes long departed (Blitzwitch, Bergtatt). In fact, Bergtatt, with its proud affirmative melody, leads into one of the most dramatic songs Kampfar ever written. Thundering double bass moving it along, Trolldomspakt provides a complete rollercoaster of emotions, from uplifting highs to sinking lows when you feel your chest is being ripped wide open no longer able to contain the pressure from inside.

Just like Heimgang before it, Mare is better off taken as a whole, in one non-stop 45 min listen, instead of trying to analyze it song by song. Even though different from both Kvass and Heimgang, and perhaps lacking the overt catchiness, Mare is no doubt a fitting extension of Kampfar catalog. The fact it explored darker, more gruesome crevices of band’s character may actually appeal even more to some of the band’s fans who wanted the collective to remain firmly grounded in the black metal arena.

Killing Songs :
Mare, Bergtatt, Trolldomspakt
Alex quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Kampfar that we have reviewed:
Kampfar - Ofidians Manifest reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Kampfar - Heimgang reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Kampfar - Kvass reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
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