REVIEWED: Blodtår - ‘Det förtegna förflutna’
Following the explosively popular influx of the various, latex sword-wielding warriors, bearskin-clad barbarians, pirates and pagans with which the late noughties were once absolutely saturated, it’s small wonder that all has been relatively quiet on the folk metal front since this decidedly questionable bygone era. However, as a musical duo whose finely-honed aggressive instincts are rivalled only by their masterfully intricate compositional talents, folk-infused black metallers Blodtår have here forged a ferocious, genre-transcending tour de force. Far surpassing the gimmicky, prop-laden dabbling of their altogether less musically adept peers, debut album ‘Det förtegna förflutna’ harnesses these authentic, centuries-old trappings within a host of strikingly inventive different forms and variants.
With the Swedes’ seamlessly orchestrated blend of craggy, tremolo-stricken aggression and sweepingly expansive riffery instantly recalling the darkly entrancing majesty of Windir, there’s no mistaking the gnarly extremity that resides in Blodtår’s delectably blackened craft. Indeed, from the moment opening number ‘En krona av is's’ elegantly unfurling, folk-steeped riffery implodes in a synapse-scorching blaze of lacerating screams and weightily churning bass groove, it’s pleasing to note just how prominently aggression figures in this brutally energised mix. But from searing, finely sculpted accents of tremolo, luxuriantly intricate melodic passages and nimbly manipulated transitions into exquisitely delicate acoustic sections, meticulous precision and control also play an integral part in ensuring sonically cohesive compositions.
Through richly spiralling lines of sumptuous, distortion-drenched riffage, ‘De dansar på berget’s’ haunting central refrain retains a relentlessly compelling hold on the listener throughout its various frenzied, darkly meditative and brutally percussive sonic transitions. Elsewhere, ‘Skymning’ revels in insane, sound barrier-shattering levels of acceleration, its frenetic flurries of tremolo displaying knife-edged, impeccable precision in amongst a vast, turbulent ocean of darkly churning guitars. Indeed, this is a gloriously relentless onslaught of an album that barely pauses to draw breath, its pacing only gathering increasing urgency and momentum as we progress from one frantically energised epic to the next. Yet, for all the sheer, face-melting extremity being exhibited here at every whiplash-inducing twist and weightily brutalising turn, this is a record that’s equally rich in intricately layered atmospherics. Take, for example, instrumental interlude ‘Gånglåt’s’ gracefully entangled lines of sleekly elongated fretwork, or the darkly swelling flurry of choral vocals that imbue the caustic throes of ‘Den fördärvande sorgbundenheten’ with intensely affecting shades of ink-black melancholia.
While the blending of these sweepingly expansive folk trappings with searing, second wave extremity may have long comprised fairly well-trodden stylistic ground, Blodtår is a nevertheless unique musical entity that’s audibly brimming with creativity and compositional skill. Viciously energised, richly layered and, at times, utterly beguiling, this is a strikingly accomplished debut album.
‘Det förtegna förflutna’ is out 21st April 2023 via Nordvis Produktion