24 Mar 2023 - Stephan
Black Metal | Dark Essence Records | Release date: 31 Mar 2023 | Favorite song: Dommedagsmonument
Tilintetgjort’s debut is yet another allegedly unique Black Metal album wearing the Avantgarde-tag. That kind of already makes you know what it sounds like, right? Sorry not sorry, but these Norwegians might radically subvert your expectations with a much more traditional-not-traditional take on the genre than expected.
If there’s one thing which conceptually connects the Prog Rock label Karisma Records with its sublabels Is It Jazz? and the extreme metal-offspring Dark Essence Records, on which this album is being released, it is an ethos of authenticity. Those guys love to present their artists as real as possible.
And so it shouldn’t come as the greatest surprise that not even a minute into the thrashing opener “Kvikksøldrømmer” the first major subversion jumping into your face is the sound. This production isn’t the thick maelstrom of abyssal chaos you braced yourself for, but something rather stripped down and raw in a different way. And you’re not prepared for it!
In Death I Shall Arise may not roll over you with that particular overwhelming wall of sound, but oh boy, roll it does! The weapons of choice are the brutal precision and direct energy of the performance itself. It shows that the band came into the studio more than well-rehearsed, as except for some overdubs the majority of the album was recorded live in only three days.
That was a perfect choice, because it really lends to the strengths of the original sound of the 1980s Metal paragons Tilintetgjort are citing the most. The dry and mean guitar sound calls back to Celtic Frost’s Morbid Tales and the drums – especially in connection with the mid-frequency-heavy overall sound - surely bear the Chris Reifert stamp of approval. If you love Autopsy’s Mental Funeral, you’ll immediately feel at home with this sick drum sound. It’s a production which at first may trick you into believing this is trve low-fi cvlt just by its non-conformity, when in trve trvth it does not just kicks ass, but also meticulously showcases every instrument while being enormously memorable.
So far I’ve mostly been referring to Death Metal. Musically, Tilintetgjort are primarily a Black Metal band though, but as you can guess by the referenced time period, it is mostly a first wave / proto everything after approach, honouring a period when the boundaries between Speed, Heavy, Thrash, Death and Black Metal and even Punk hadn’t been clearly defined yet. The guitar riffs are sheer unfiltered Thomas G. Warrior worship, while the vocals also borrow from his early days, but mix it with the frightening primitive brutality of an aggressive drunk screaming directly into your face. Or in other words: Isn’t this just a new take on Onslaught’s Power From Hell from 1985?
Yeah, no. Maybe it would be if we stopped right here, but there are more crucial elements to cover. Like what about the whole Avantgarde thing?
Everyone knows that it was also Celtic Frost who went fully “A” on Into The Pandemonium. But that album is not the blueprint for this at all. Tilintetgjort’s time machine rather stopped before that and took a different route instead. Noticeably until the two very last minutes of the album they never indulge in any sound experiments involving instruments beyond their Metal line-up of two guitars, bass and drums. No keyboard intros, no strings, no brass – and most definitely no “One In their Pride” electro beats.
This self-restriction makes it even more impressive how the Norwegians counterbalance their riff primitivism with subtle harmonies - the bass player’s really the secret MVP here – and influences from Classical Music. And they are not just dragging their lead guitars through The Hall of the Mountain King, but infuse a little Grieg into the whole vibe of the album. It’s never presented in an exposed ‘look-what-we-can-do’ way, but feels rather like one of several elements expressing the group’s heritage. The other, even more prominent ones are the lyrics, which are half English and half Norwegian, and those instances, when the harsh guttural lead vocals make room for ancient seafarer chants you would otherwise rather expect in a Norse Folk context.
Structurally, the most obvious Classical connotations arise with the 20+ minutes final track “Dommedagsmonument” being a whole suite in three parts. However, it’s also the most blatantly and unapologetically Meeetaaal! piece, just by the way it lets bombast and beauty clash with the excessive Venom-ous dirty Rock’n’Roll attitude of the vocals. But given the Doom and the lead guitar heroism on display here, the much more fitting comparison might actually be the mighty Cirith Ungol. And the Americans famously being a key influence on Celtic Frost another Circle of the Tyrants closes here and I honestly cannot blame you if you question if the whole “Avantgarde” part isn’t just made up and all Tilintetgjort are really doing is emulating their idols.
Well, I can assure you that these guys go beyond pure nostalgia. But that part is probably just the one easiest to spot and describe, while it is harder to grasp, what exactly makes them sound so adventurous and refreshing. Maybe we should understand the “A”-tag mostly as an indicator of how immediately and strongly In Death I Shall Arise stands out as existing in its very own world of headbanging cosmic horror, as a piece of dedicated craftsmanship that boldly infuses the past with fresh relevance. And it does everything without ever sacrificing any of its pure fist-raising 80’s Blackened Metal spirit. It’s a certified killer!
And now I will listen to the whole thing again before finishing this review, just to determine if there’s actually even a faint chance that I can for the life of me choose an actual favourite track without throwing dice… Ok, I take the obvious epic.