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Ereb Altor: Gastrike

I recently saw Korpiklaani, Moonsorrow, Tyr, and Metastoll in concert. I liked the way that each of these bands drew on different aspects of what's known as Viking Metal or Pagan Metal to create their music. I am more and more convinced that heavy metal should embrace opportunities to explore what can be done with traditional instruments and melodies. There's clearly an audience for this style of heavy metal and, frankly, many of the bands make pretty good music.

With Ereb Altor, I find yet another reason to think fondly of Viking metal. Their own description of their music is "Viking Doom Metal," an apt expression since that's pretty much how I'd describe it, based on my listening to this release. Most of the songs have a similar vibe to them, but the basic formula works. What I hear is a melodic theme playing out slowly and, sometimes, menacingly, on a keyboard. I really like the way that bands like Ereb Altor (not to mention Opeth and many others) use keyboards to create a mood and a simple melodic theme. In my opinion, keyboards sound better when they are used mostly to create atmosphere. At times, the melodic passages on this album sound like a low chant, making me wonder just what effects they used to capture them. I can imagine an audience chanting along to most of the tracks here. To me, the best two tracks were "Dispellation" and "Boatman's Call," precisely because of the way the melodic lines provided a backbone for the rest of the doom-infused sounds to do their thing. The vocals never really do anything more than growl in time with the music, but they don't do anything to hurt the ears.

The lyrical themes are largely drawn from the world of fantasy and, as far as I understood them, seemed very cool. Again, I call attention to "Boatman's Call," a track that reminded me of Greek mythology involving Charon and the trip across the river Styx. I'm sure there's a different myth these guys have in mind, but the image of a lonely boatman taking the dead across a vast body of water is both haunting and cool. This is a solid album, one that fans of both Viking metal and doom metal should enjoy. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking here, but the strengths of the album outweigh the general lack of risk.

Track Listing:
1. The Gathering of Witches
2. Dance of Darkness
3. Dispellation
4. Boatman's Call
5. The Mistress of Wisdom
6. I Djupet Så Svart
7. Seven

Added: September 13th 2012
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Myspace Page
Hits: 1376
Language: english

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