The following reviews are of products from NORDIC MISSION in Norway. These products can be obtained directly from:

NORDIC MISSION
Email: nmission@frisurf.no
Website: NORDIC MISSION

STRONGHOLD

“Prayers of a Yearning Heart” (5 songs. 35:48).

My good friends at Nordic Mission in Norway have now gone into the business of releasing albums on their own custom label. After the 1999 demo release of Vaakevandring it became clear that Paal and his buddies have something going for them (that demo was produced by Stian Arstad, formerly of Dimmu Borgir). While that demo hinted at atmospheric Black Metal, something of a cross between Dimmu and Vintersorg, this, their second offering, pays homage to the more primitive sort of Black Metal. The press sheet—these are always designed to tell us what to think of a release—makes musical comparisons to such groups as Antestor, Ashen Mortality, and Schaliach. While I can readily hear musical similarities to Antestor, especially their Return of the Black Death album on Cacophanous Records, I don’t really hear the other comparisons. Of course, these comparisons are designed for a predominantly Christian audience and comparisons are drawn as best as possible. Perhaps other Christian bands like Slechtvalk and Sanctifica would have made closer comparisons. But let me tell you what I hear. I hear some of influence from, or at least similarity to, Darkthrone on songs like “Prayer of the Yearning”. On other songs like “Lament” and “In Strongest Arms” I hear some interesting similarities to a great American band called Agalloch. The bottom line is that Stronghold’s debut release on Nordic Mission is a strong and very well produced piece of Black/Dark Metal. The primitive influence is there, but it has an underlying sophistication which belies a very intelligent approach to Metal. It is a very worthy release and all fans of Black Metal not given to adolescent satanism should check it out. And Christians should definitely support such a high quality release.

Vaakevandring

Demo 98/99 (3 Tracks. 17:05) Melodic Black Metal.

The Christian Metal scene continues to be treated with some excellent Black Metal from Scandinavia. If you are into Crimson Moonlight, Antestor, or Mordecai, let me strongly recommend you buy this CD. The best comparison for Vaakevandring, to me, are to say they sound like a cross between Extol and Crimson Moonlight. First of all, you’ll notice some very tight, melodic, extremely fast guitar playing like Extol. Second, you’ll notice that the music is accented with majestic sounding keyboards similar to Crimson Moonlight. In 17 minutes you the listener are treated to some really fast, aggressive parts and some soft, beautiful keyboard parts. Those familiar with secular metal will recall Bathory’s “Blood, Fire, Death”, “Hammerheart”, and “Twilight of the Gods” albums. There is much here to remind one of those records, especially on track 3, "Og sorgen slilnel i smerlens rann". Vocally Vaakevandring benefit from more than one vocalist; therefore, they have semi-operatic baritone vocals and shrill black metal vocals. The shrill vocals sound much like the vocals from Antestor or maybe Kekel or Darkthrone. Two of the songs are in Norwegian, but the middle song, “Some Day” is in English. Finally, the artwork is supreme and is a great touch to a great recording.

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