Released on Odium Records / Underground Kvlt Records on 30 May 2022.
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There is much to like about Norwegian black metal outfit Likheim’s debut EP. I was told to expect harsh and unpolished Norwegian black metal similar to early Gorgoroth, Immortal and Darkthrone but with its own twists and turns, and that’s pretty much what we’ve been served.
The production is raw and unpolished and it features that characteristic black metal percussion that sounds like someone jangling a bag of cutlery in front of a microphone, but these don’t detract from what is otherwise a creative and interesting EP.
Alt Skal Svinne Hen… is Norwegian for “all shall disappear”:
I will leave it all behind; the blood, the shame, the sin, the suffocating love and the scarring scorn. I will walk to the distant mountains and in their shadowed, snow shrouded passes all things will fade. From the jagged peaks I will gaze upon a new world of perfect, empty, stillness. In the dark tunnels below the ice I will find sanctuary from the demanding light. I will lie down beneath the vast, star-dusted night sky and the cold will freeze my heart and stop my blood. I will be at peace in my Niflheim and everything I know shall disappear…From promotional information
“Alt skal svinne hen…” / “Everything should disappear…” (track 1) has a very distinctive Hellhammer feel to it, right down to the opening feedback squeal. With all the subtlty of a train crashing through a mountain, this song is foot-to-the-floor black metal that only comes up to breathe in a couple of places which brings texture and welcome dynamics to this otherwise wall of noise. The harsh, shouted Norwegian lyrics adds to the dark feel of this track. A good start.
“Smerte” / “Pain” (track 2) opens with a laid back riff that is soon swept up in a rubbling, juggernaut of a riff. Vocals are growled and half-spoken over the tumult while that delicate initial melody is woven through the storm of guitars and drums until the track burns out with a dying guitar chord.
The beautifully played introduction to “Tåkens kall” / “The cold of fog” (track 3) introduces a whole new dynamic to the EP. The melody is fragile and delicate and it would have been wonderful to have heard an entire song with this voicing. However, it is quickly swallowed up into the most brutal and harshest of songs so far. Thrashing guitars, barked vocals, jangling cutlery percussion offer wave upon wave of noise and anger that like the previous track burns out with a sustained chord before returning to the gentleness of the opening.
I really like the single-string opening riff of “Stormen” / “The storm” (track 4) which threads itself throughout the song as the theme around which everything else stomps. A sour and acidic-sounding guitar solo around four minutes in and a chorus of voices a little after five minutes provide interesting interludes for a song that otherwise does little. That said, what it does is enough to make this an interesting and triumphant closing to a very worthy black metal record.
According to the promo material, “Likheim will descend upon the world like the wild hunt, reaping and reaving, a whirlwind of bitter blades. And before the wounds have healed, as the leaves start to fall, Likheim will return with a new label and a full length album. There will be no respite…”
Actually, I think there was some respite, the opening and closing of track 3 was one of the most beautiful passages in a black metal release that I’ve heard for quite some time. More of that please.
This EP really grew on me the more I listened to it. I’m not sure how much a black metal album should sound triumphant and hopeful, but somehow this EP did, mixed with its fair share of darkness and melancholy. But the world’s a bit like that right now. Could this be the soundtrack to the apocalypse?
Review score: 80%