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Nordvargr - "Re-Awaken" (CD)

Nordvargr - "Re-Awaken" CD cover image

"Re-Awaken" track listing:

1. Awaken (4:33)
2. Cellardweller (5:15)
3. Kretslopp (8:27)
4. Lament II (5:51)
5. Exit Deamonas (6:35)
6. Natt (4:24)
7. Hascimh (7:21)
8. Sulphur Mist (7:18)
9. Seeds of Blood (Acts 1-2) (7:21)
10. Seeds of Blood (Acts 3-4) (9:26)
11. Dreamstates (5:50)

Reviewed by on July 15, 2011

"Perhaps simply being a re-issue of a great debut is enough to warrant its existence once again. It's an album that succeeds in every way it should and provides plenty of substance for enthusiasts."

Hailing back to the late '80s, Nordvargr (real name Henrik Nordvargr Björkk) has been making subconscious-melting industrial, black and ambient music for more than enough time now to become well known to dark ambient fans. "Re-Awaken" is a re-release/re-mix/re-invention of the Nordvargr's 2002 debut "Awaken." If you have heard Lustmord, there will not be too many surprises here. 80% of this album follows the dark ambient passage you'd expect it to take and the defining elements are not so different as to warrant any extended reference. That is not to say, however, that "Re-Awaken" is a release that is lacking. Quite the opposite; it is a genuinely fulfilling dark ambient experience.

First off, you can't fault Nordvargr in terms of quantity on this disc. Most tracks range around the seven-minute mark and there's over an hour of sucking vortex fridge noises here to keep you entertained or mesmerize or whatever people do when they listen to dark ambient. Summon demons maybe? I can only assume so.

As you'd expect, the music itself is undeniably and hellishly dark. It's a pick and mix of horror movie soundtracks, whose only goal seems to be aggravating you with menacing build ups and more mellowed songs that are less likely to ambush you, but still likely to leave you a paranoid, possibly zen, hermit. Each track has the individual charm to keep you from hitting skip out of boredom and dynamics, such as a piano lead or pseudo black metal guitar riff or vocal line, will spring up and fill in various gaps. I will add that this fails in the case whenever the campy eastern chanting brigade turns up, but otherwise, the tracks are solid dark ambient goo.

Is that enough? Well, I personally demand a little more out of my ambient music. Mortiis, Earth, and the master himself Brian Eno can all leave me mesmerized. While I genuinely did enjoy all the tracks on display enough to get some replay value, it hasn't vaulted to the top of my ambient list. Stuff like the soft beating drums of "Sulphur Mist" and the echoing gurgles in "Natt" all add up to a polished release, but not one that you haven't essentially heard before in the dark ambient field.

Perhaps the issue is that nothing seems to push to the front and demand you remember one defining element. Ironically, there may be too much dynamic energy in "Re-Awaken" to avoid feeling like a how-to of all dark ambient features. If any element is truly mastered, it is the mellow, cavernous and tribal tracks like "Hascimh" - now that would have made for a great full length had it been pursued with minimalist zeal.

Perhaps simply being a re-issue of a great debut is enough to warrant its existence once again. It's an album that succeeds in every way it should and provides plenty of substance for enthusiasts. Thrills and chills abound, I fully recommend at least taking a dive into the strange black pool of Nordvargr.

Highs: The cavernous, quasi tribal drippings of the more minimalist tracks

Lows: No one single element that makes Nordvargr stand out from other dark ambient albums

Bottom line: "Re-Awaken" is a more than solid overview of everything dark and ambient.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)