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Blodarv – Linaria Amlech
Reviewed by Oct 22nd, 2009

Blodarv is one of those bands I used to sort of feel like I shouldn’t like at all, yet I find them terribly charming to such an extent that I now consider them to be among my favorite bands. It’s partly the style of black metal that I feel I should take offense to, while decidedly lo-fi, it’s also got some orchestration here and there, occasional clean female vocals, and some weird noises and vaguely industrial-ish and ambient tendencies here and there. Then there is the bizarre subject matter, one need not even put in the CD to realize this is a different kind of black metal album; kind of a skewed concept album.

Researching the titular “queen witch” a bit more via the band’s website and various interviews, one finds out she was a former lover of Hugin and ended up killing herself. Something to that effect, anyway. The CD booklet includes lyrics, paintings and drawings of Linaria, and her last letter. The CD also contains multimedia material, “The story of Linaria Amlech” and “Those who speak in minds,” the latter being live footage from 2002.

As for the music, it seems a bit hit or miss also, and I think it’s the sort of thing you’re going to love or hate. I read some reviews before having heard any Blodarv material and some said it seemed rather musically immature, and it does come off as bit simplistic at first, but I disagree with this point of view. I don’t hear anything particularly wrong with the instrumentation, I like pretty much everything about this; I’m rather fond of the vocals, and above all this is music with a great deal of emotion, and that’s what won me over in the end. It improves with repeated listening. Again, I usually hate stuff with these high pitched, operatic-sounding vocals mixed in, but here there are used as they should be, adding a bit of melody without drawing undue attention or making it sound all poppy and sweet, which happens far too often. As usual, I would like to emphasize that any and all vocals should be treated like another instrument; though a lot of people seem to treat them differently because they are the medium through which the lyrics are delivered. Like any other instrument, they can be used well or used poorly, which is why I refuse to put any emphasis on the gender of whoever is doing the vocals (and here I refer to all bands and reviewers who feel the need to bitch about the presence of keyboards or female vocals rather than how these are used), but rather, how the final product sounds.

“Langt Væk Fra Livet” is an excellent example of this, the guitars are fuzzy and depressive-sounding, it’s a slow song and has a great, haunting atmosphere. “Death of Linaria” continues in a vaguely similar mood before things pick up a bit with “Beyond Life,” another song I like a lot. There is also a very good cover of King Diamond’s “Black Hill Sanitarium,” which I will confess to listening to on repeat for long periods of time, because it fucking kills (as does the original, but in a different way). It took me some time to warm up to “Disgusting Beauty,” which has some weird noises and spoken lyrics and is another more ambient-type track, but in the end, I liked that to.

The booklet is a rather fascinating portrait of the woman to whom it is dedicated, and for a while I wasn’t sure how well this worked with all this material sort of based on and collected around her, it is a strange album certainly, but after some thought, it is an excellent CD. Still, I think like the split with Silva Nigra more and listen to it a bit more often, except for the King Diamond cover, but this album is also what made me want to hunt down their other stuff.
Blodarv @ Myspace
Blodarv.org


Northern Silence Productions

2006




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