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Vintersorg - "Naturbål" (CD)

Vintersorg - "Naturbål" CD cover image

"Naturbål" track listing:

1. Ur aska och sot
2. Överallt och ingenstans
3. En blixt från klar himmel
4. Lågornas rov
5. Rymdens brinnande öar
6. Natten visste vad skymningen såg
7. Elddraken
8. Urdarmåne
9. Själ i flamma

Reviewed by on June 13, 2014

"If you were already a fan of Vintesorg or Borknagar before, you pretty much know exactly what to expect from “Naturbål,” and the album is just as good as anything that's come before."

The ever dependable Vintersorg manages to pump out solid material every two to three years, and here we are again now with the band's ninth full-length album “Naturbål.” As with the last couple of releases, main man Vintersorg and guitarist Mattias Marklund don't re-invent the wheel or run off the tracks the band has laid down before, but in this case that's not necessarily a bad thing, as the group already has a winning formula. The fact that there's not a corresponding Borknagar album out right now is probably the biggest surprise here, as the two interconnected bands tend to have similar release schedules.

As anyone familiar with the band would expect, “Naturbål” keeps up a balanced sound that exudes the old school without letting go of modern recording techniques. The production is predictably good but purposefully not perfect to stay rooted in metal's earlier era, and there are plenty of traditional black metal blast beats found alongside the folk elements.

For large stretches the album stays along the same lines as previous release “Orkan” (and previous Borknagar album “Urd”), but there are some noteworthy departures, like the unexpected addition of female vocals on both “Ur Aska och Sot” and “Rymdens Brinnande Oar.” The latter track also bears witness to a brief (but stark) contrast in sound with a stylistic shift and vocal filter that treads territory along the lines of Samael's “Above” for about 30 seconds that just comes out of nowhere.

These small stylistic changes, coupled with some differing atmospheric intros and interludes, make up more of a change in the music's surface than in its core sound. The main change is in a move towards the symphonic black metal end, with a bit less focus on the folk elements this time around, although there are still tons of Vintersorg's clean vocals to be heard across the disc.

If you were already a fan of Vintesorg or Borknagar before, you pretty much know exactly what to expect from “Naturbål,” and the album is just as good as anything that's come before. As long as you aren't expecting a vast change or massive progression in sound, this is easily an album worth picking up for fans of the prolific black/folk metal outfit.

Highs: Fans get exactly what they expect from the tried and true Vintersorg formula, with a slightly stronger focus on black metal this time around.

Lows: The band didn't try anything particularly new or take any risks with the recording.

Bottom line: Vintersorg has another winning folk/black metal combo that tries a few new things, but overall sticks to a solid formula that works.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)