After the pleasure of a new Obscura album, then enjoying Voivod’s terrific EP, I have just received my copy of the ‘Arktis’ digibook, an ode to Fridtjof Nansen’s journeys, and more widely, themes related to the septentrion.
‘Das Seelenbrechen’ was a kind of transition, based on improvisation. Let us see what Vegard Sverre Tveitan offers us in 2016, still in good company with the drummer Tobias Ørnes Andersen.
Irresistible is the word which comes to my mind when the first notes of ‘Disassembled’ are thundering into my ears, a dynamic riff à la Ihsahn. Verse and chorus, but also thousands of ideas, as this unexpected melo bridge where Leprous’ Einar Solberg‘s voice does wonders.
The next songs keep the momentum: the bombastic ‘Mass Darkness’ where Matt Heafy from Trivium gives his ‘give in’; the groovy ‘My Heart Is of the North’, with Nicolay Svennæs Tangen’s keys and organ, Robin Ognedal’s six or maybe more strings, and a guitar sound which reminds me of Flotsam & Jetsam’s ‘Drift’; the hypnotic ‘South Winds’ and its final words: ‘Cancel all flights to the promised land’. Headbanging guaranteed and a great musical journey: could not be better.
Based on a simple melody, ‘In the Vaults’ overflows also with a thousand glorious details. The riff of ‘Until I Too Dissolve’ could have come from Eddie Van Halen’s 82 Kramer.
‘Pressure’ is dark, majestic, and yet again a thousand details and ideas, which make ‘Arktis’ unique. What about ‘Frail’, then ‘Crooked Red Line’ (saxophone by Jørgen Munkeby, of course), full of opposite feelings and atmospheres, oppressive or light, as the polar world, hostile and magnificent.
‘Celestial Violence’ with Einar Solberg, or ‘Why are we?’, ‘What are we: a simple dust in the Laniakea, where cosmic monsters produce gravitational waves’.
Ihsahn knows how to include his numerous influences in his own world, how to magnify them: metal, progressive, classic, jazz, pop, electro, whatever… A huge but clean production (Jens Bogren for the mixing and the mastering) serves this masterpiece well, written, composed and performed as a symphony.
Not a single note can be thrown away, not a single voice harmony can be lost. It is indeed a great anniversary celebration, ten years after ‘The Adversary’.
NB: this limited edition has an unusual bonus track: Hans Herbjørnsrud recites ‘Søppelsolen’, a poem by Tor Ulven; first the piano whispers, then the distorded arpeggios scream. Lyst til å lære norsk?
2. Mass Darkness
3. My Heart Is of the North
4. South Winds
5. In the Vaults
6. Until I Too Dissolve
9. Crooked Red Line
10. Celestial Violence
11. Til Tor Ulven (Søppelsolen) – bonus track
Playing Time: 57:26
Release date: 15. April, 2016