With so many self-proclaimed black metal bands these days attempting to sound worlds apart from each other via forceful experimentation or a confusing mish-mash of completely contrasting sub-genres, it seems like a breath of fresh air to hear that there are still a minority of groups sticking to the more traditional side of extreme metal. One such band is Den Saakaldte, originally started as a solo project in Norway before collaborating with other musicians from groups as well-renowned as Mayhem and Shining. Throughout their eight year existence Den Saakaldte have remained relatively underground, and which fans they appeal to is quite obvious indeed. Yet what is most respectful about the band is how they never seem to deviate from the original form, nor should they, given that this well-rehearsed formula works considerably well.
The band’s latest album, entitled “Kapitell II: Faen I Helevete”, is if anything a great example of what Den Saakaldte have always stood for. It’s not just the blastbeat-ridden, grim remains of the band’s earlier material that is fully intact, but also the usual feelings of isolation and despair that one frequently gets from black metal in its most traditional form. From the very start you can feel the icy atmosphere engaging powerfully and manifesting into more ambient territory, a transition which can’t always be perfected. Songs such as ‘Du selvproklamerte misjonae’ and its ominous successor ‘Endelost Ode’ are lengthy if only to incorporate every aspect of the band’s sound properly, so that the musicianship or songwriting doesn’t feel rushed. Both of the aforementioned songs are essentially made up of three parts: The first and last is unsurprisingly raw and hellish, whereas the mid-sections seems to break down into quiet, sombre passages of ambient notes, so eerie in fact that you can feel the darkness slowly gathering around the recording. Unfortunately these are the only two songs which really embrace this transitional effect, and it simply leaves the remaining five songs to serve as more brutal, more energetic pieces of black metal.
Where the album suffers is perhaps the most obvious thing itself. A lack of diversity is here in spades, and for that reason, as said before, this album will simply appeal to one particular fan-base. That’s not to say that musically “Kapittel II…”doesn’t seek to impress, because Den Saakaldte seem to pull everything off effortlessly. But for those who unapologetically favour the more experimental, atmospheric side of black metal, songs like ‘Din Siste Dag’ and ‘Som et Arr Pa Sjelen’ will come across as a sore disappointment. The only other problem is how the album’s two longest tracks- ‘Djevelens Verk’ and closer ‘Ondskapens Nodvendighet’- are also the weakest. There are parts where the musical energy is powerful and deeply scathing, but for the most part there just seems to be a little too much repetition, particularly towards the end, and it gets to the point where the band themselves sound like they’re bored.
That said, Den Saakaldte’s latest offering rarely fails to live up to preconceived expectations. What you will get here is nothing more than by-the-numbers black metal, but it is black metal played expertly and effortlessly nonetheless. “Kapittel II: Faen I Helvete” encapsulates just what Den Saakaldte have been aiming for since their inception, and rightly so.
Released: May 27, 2014.
1. Din Siste Dag
2. Forbanna Idioter
3. Du Selvproklamerte misjonae
4. Endelost Ode
5. Djevelens Verk
6. Som Et Arr Pa Sjelen
7. Ondskapens Nodvendighet