Seidr - For Winter Fire
7 songs (01:13:40)
Release year: 2011
Reviewed by Charles
Seidr’s line-up will no doubt turn the heads of those interested in the American black metal scene, featuring among its five-strong line-up the brains behind two notable one man projects: Lundr of the RABM institution Panopticon and Crow of the inscrutable blackened-noise machine Wheels Within Wheels. This, though, is doom, albeit of a variety that treads a line between intangible atmospherics and growling death, and it has few outward similarities to those acts in any tangible sense. For Winter Fire does, however, share with them an approach to music that swerves away from concessions to listener-friendliness and towards a more enigmatic and impressionistic style.

Songs are long, in fact excluding the acoustic centrepiece In the Ashes everything ranges from nine to fifteen minutes. The record begins with the gentle, almost welcoming tones that open A Vision From Hlidskjalf, based around idly reverberating guitar noodles that- despite the title- suggest a quiet evening in the Southern States (another Panopticon-ism: the odd juxtaposition of Norse mythology and rustic Americana). The track itself roughly alternates between these relaxed sections and sudden explosions of lumbering doom-death groove. Indeed, the band meanders like this from shambling metal rumble to strung-out ambiance for long expanses of the album’s 75 minute running time. This is deeply unhurried music, with a free-flowing approach which sees Seidr dwelling on several unexpected deviations in some depth. The ramshackle melodeath harmonies that surface towards the end of On the Shoulders of the Gods, for example, or the weird North African instruments and tonalities that ornament The Night Sky and the Wild Hunt (recalling Merkstave from Panopticon's Colapse album).

At other points, though, it is grimly focused. Sweltering, for example, starts as a foreboding drone and morphs fluidly in and out of the record’s most imposing doom grooves, with a glowering shuffle that is greatly augmented by the pained, bestial character of the vocals. Similarly, The Night Sky and the Wild Hunt shows a flare for crunchy doom-death, highlighted again by piercing melodic lead lines, and all the more effective given the organic way that heavy and gentle ideas bleed in and out of each other. It is the latter which really differentiates Seidr, all told: this intangible and exploratory approach to metal. Whilst they share much with other adventurous doom bands, particularly Florida’s Dark Castle, their work never feels polished and instead flows from phase to phase in an almost improvisatory way. In consequence, For Winter Fire is a distinctive album that both demands and rewards the listener’s attention.

Killing Songs :
Sweltering, A Vision From Hlidskjalf, The Night and the Wild Hunt
Charles quoted 80 / 100
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