Dødheimsgard – Black Medium Current (Album Review)

With all the years of their rich history, it might seem strange that Norwegian Black Metal originators Dødheimsgard have only just released their sixth full-length album. Black Medium Current comes to us via Peaceville Records, and sees the brainchild of Yusaf Parvez, aka Vicotnik, coming to life once more after eight years of creative silence. Fans of this avant-garde collective are familiar with patience, because eight years separates their releases dating back to 1999’s genre-bending 666 International. No one can doubt that time matures not just us as people, but it can also allow creative ventures to be perfected; this is something Dødheimsgard has always done. Their music is cultivated, weird, and challenging to rigid lines. Released on April 14, 2023… how then does Black Medium Current manifest?

A ten-minute opener, “Et Smelter” buzzes with Black Metal ferocity after a psychedelic intro and culminates with a fantastic wind-down into similar territory. Vicotnik is one of the best vocalists in
Extreme Metal, and clean tones wind their way through the harshness of the music with a grace that is as seductive as it is immediate. “Tankespinnerens Smerte” proves that a blast-beat driven song can either pummel or hypnotize. With a deep clean vocal accompaniment, this song does a bit of both; the instrumental break at around the two-minute mark tantalizes before it becomes quite progressive and trippy. Where in the past, the band has sounded more jagged and darkly futuristic with these sonic tangents, here they are seamless in their twists, turns, and spectacular bewitchments.

Deeper into the album, it is clear Dødheimsgard has shaken the tree of Extreme Metal by its roots, creating something that defies description. The left-field of Black Metal, especially the Norwegian strain made up of Solefald, Arcturus, Ved Buens Ende, and Fleurety, offers a template of weirdness ornamented in musicianship rarely achieved anywhere in all the corners of modern music. “Interstellar Nexus” calls to mind the frosty forays into prog of the aforementioned Arcturus. Clean vocals soar next to Myrvoll’s drums and Maloy’s haunting bass guitar, with a sense that we are on the cusp of devolving into something perhaps too strange. Never fear, listener; trust the sorcerers who make up Dødheimsgard. Beats and looping synth samples? It all works stunningly well.

Brilliant and serpentine “It Does Not Follow” bursts with tremolo picking and hyper-fast drumming. Its creepy atmosphere and languid clean vocal harmonizing offsets the black metal underbelly superbly. The album remains as solid and engaging throughout, culminating in another ten-minute juggernaut of a musical labyrinth “Abyss Perihelion Transit.” Dødheimsgard pours on the brilliance and the bizarre and though they strike rarely compared with some bands, they make it count. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Black Medium Current 5 out of 5 stars.

Dødheimsgard – Black Medium Current / Peaceville Records (2023)



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