Kampfar has consistently
delivered the goods throughout their existence (my personal favorite being
Kvass). I think they fly lower on the radar than they really should; they aren't
an elite black metal band, but they inhabit the level immediately below that.
Mare has a different feel than previous Kampfar releases (which themselves have
been variant). This album delivers a solid atmospheric backdrop, and it sounds
far more produced than previous work (it's produced by Peter Tagtgren). I think
the thing that jumps out at me most is the poignancy of the drums; they have
always been good, but here they are a more integral part of the mix.
I guess the biggest detractor to the album itself is the fact that the riffing
is so markedly un-melodic compared to previous releases. The keys drive most of
the melody, which assists in creating the atmospheric feel, but the guitar
riffing on previous Kampfar releases has always been inventive. It's far more
subdued here, taking on a support role rather than dominating the show. The keys
do a good job of pushing the action and the vocals are decent enough. "Blitzwitch"
and "Mare" are in English (atypical of Kampfar) and have an impact that draws
you further into the song. There are few spots where the bass shines through as
well (it has always been pretty good).
Overall, I'd still call it my least favorite Kampfar album, but it's only a few
notches below everything else in their discography. On its own, it's still a
very good album. If you're a fan of the band, you'll probably still enjoy it. If
you've never heard of Kampfar before, I recommend picking up their earlier works
(all of which are good) before delving into this one.