Black Medium Current
Review by Vladimir on April 12, 2023.
Norwegian avant-garde black metal veterans Dødheimsgard have returned after 8 years with a brand-new and also their sixth official full-length album Black Medium Current, set to be released on April 14th via Peaceville Records. Dødheimsgard has remained a very prominent player within the Norwegian black metal scene since the early 90’s, mostly known for their sound which evolved into a more avant-garde styled black metal, but their game is still strong to this day. Whichever artistic direction this band took, it was never close to reaching its lowest point. They seem to be remaining determined as always which is what I think contributes to their success and popularity that stands the test of time.
The album starts with 'Et Smelter' which takes a very basic black metal approach with fast tremolo riffing and blast beats, while also throwing in some nice epic vocals, interstellar-like choirs, pianos, synths and clean guitar sections next to all the harsh vocals and overall musical aggression of black metal. The song is more than ten minutes long, but despite its length it manages to hold your attention throughout while sinking you deep into the song’s psychedelic realm. This formula is taken even further with 'Tankespinnerens Smerte' which oozes with psychedelic moments that radiate an immense layer of emotions during clean sections of the song, and pay off nicely with the continuation of slow and eerie riffs and double-bass drumming that change to a quicker pace during the song’s conclusion. The third 'Interstellar Nexus' offers a nice deal of catchiness to the riffs and drumming, while also providing some “tribal” drumming with clean guitars that create such an unrelenting mood shift, but the “industrial” part really takes the song to an even weirder direction. A song which I like in particular is 'It Does Not Follow', it stands out for me due to its unimaginable yet genius combination of alternative-like psychedelic rock with grim black metal. Apart from the melancholic piano tracks 'Voyager' and 'Requiem Aeternum', the album’s musical formula is very complex and well-thought, yet so otherworldly and inhuman which in hindsight can be described as a “wormhole travel”. Dødheimsgard has always been known for taking their music to realms that some might consider “forbidden” or “unnatural” for the genre, but never got to the point of completely mishandling that decision. According to the band, when it comes to the album’s overall themes, it deals with the idea of authenticity, the battle of free will versus determinism and what this implies for our moral responsibilities, while also aiming to question the notion of ‘responsibility’ as a concept. The band’s questioning nature explores ideas in which trying to free oneself from a state of existential despair and confusion we in turn relinquish our own freedom. Suggesting that confusion and despair, however hard they may be to endure, are in a philosophical sense necessary told to question one’s own intellectual honesty. The album is very deeply thought out in terms of its songwriting and philosophical themes, but aside from that, the sound production should also get some credit for doing a nice job with all the distorted and clean guitars, various vocal styles, pianos and synths that were altogether wonderfully combined in the overall mix.
Dødheimsgard is not a band I listen to frequently, but from time to time it really does wonders for me. This album was like a very special kind of magic and experience that took me to weird places like you were tripping on acid or something, but in a good way. The synthy and psychedelic moments on this album certainly won me over, which might do the same for you if you're into avant-garde black metal and Dødheimsgard in general. Black Medium Current is like Pandora’s box you would dare not open, yet your curiosity gets the best of you.
Rating: 9 out of 10394