|Sjodogg - Landscapes Of Disease And Decadence
14 January 2008
01. A Song Of Plague
02. Inglorious Fever Of Antonius
04. Brethren Of The Weeping Corpses
06. The Asphyxiation
07. Sentinels Of The Severed Flesh
09. Kiss Of The Blowfly
Label Osmose Productions
Total Running Time: 46:18
After three demos in three years, Norway's new black metal offering Sjodogg released their first full-length in January this year. Oddly enough, instead of going for the usual Norwegian BM sound, the band decided to draw inspiration from the French raw black metal scene, best represented by Deathspell Omega and their followers.
And Sjodogg sound a lot like their French counterparts Deathspell Omega, Glorior Belli or Obscurus Advocam. They share the same minimalist approach, thriving on chaotic, repetitive and slow riffs bordering on doom, counterbalanced by ultra-fast drumming, with dissonant, otherworldly melodies, gloomy acoustic passages and filthy vocals. The sound is not as raw as one could expect, but just as clear and brilliant as it ought to be. Though the songwriting offers a bunch of memorable moments ("Brethren Of The Weeping Corpses", "Sentinels Of The Severed Flesh", "Kiss Of The Blowfly"), the real beacon of the album is the vocal performance. Singer Kjetil Hektoen (of Crest Of Darkness, Enthral and The Legion) growls, rants, snarls, shrieks, screeches and spits his rage like a madman all along the album, carrying the listener in an insane universe of his own. This is all very well done and interesting to listen to. But (there is always a but)...
But throughout the album, it feels like something is missing. While the band's performance is rather commendable, you know with a certain discomfort that this is not as complete as it sounds. I couldn't quite pinpoint what the missing element was until I conducted a little experiment: just after listening to "Landscapes Of Disease And Decadence", I decided to give "Manifesting The Raging Beast" a spin, to see how the former looked when matched against one of its main competitors. The result is quite sad. None of what makes the grandeur of Glorior Belli's release, i.e. this sense of oppression, despair and impending doom, is actually present in Sjodogg's release. While the French band's release is throbbing with overwhelming feelings and unspeakable emotions, the Norwegian one is flat, almost lifeless.
So this is it. While technically being a rather praiseworthy release, "Landscapes Of Disease And Decadence" is nowhere near the quality of the rest of the scene. The problem is, this particular wave of black metal works with insane, blasphemous atmospheres, and those are entirely absent from this album. What the listener is left with is nothing more than a decent but lifeless and repetitive raw black metal album, unfortunately.