Published on Friday, 01 January 2016 21:33
Album title: Livlaus
Release date: 11 September 2015
Label: Dark Essence Records
01. Fanden På Veggen
02. Brende Bruer, Svart Metall
03. Livlaus del 1: Evig
04. Livlaus del 2: Dødens Dal
05. Livlaus del 3: Tusen Sjeler
Norwegian black metal outfit Orkan are back with their sophomore album named Livlaus, three years after the release of their debut Crimson Canvas. Orkan were formed in 2008 by Taake's live guitarist Gjermund Fredheim and ex-Byfrost drummer Rene Nesse. Having been joined by former Grimnorth bassist Sindre Hillesdal and frontman Einar Fjelldal ex-Gravemachine, Orkan released their debut full-lenght album Crimson Canvas in 2012. Whilst Crimson Canvas is, as described by the band, soundwise behind them and now they've taken their musical vision in a much darker direction, taking the classic Norwegian black metal sound and incorporating into it influences from many other genres, to create atmospheric melodies with haunting vocals and intense blastbeats.
Although Livlaus is unquestionably quintessentional black metal, other influences are woren in, ranging from thrash to almost black'n'rolll elements. Right off the bat with "Fanden På Veggen", it becomes immediately clear that this is not your average run-of-the-mill black metal album, with mid-paced songs and odd tempo changes interlaced with weird little unexpected twists in melody. The vocals are used sparingly as a counter point to the instrumental section, allowing the effects and textures to take the fore, whilst understated screams linger in the gloomy background giving everything a hair-raising eeriness. And like a flick of a switch "Brende Bruer, Svart Metall" launched-straight into what can only be seen as the polar opposite: very fast, aggresive and savage, thus providing the perfect juxtaposition for the melancholic-tinted dirge-like "Livlaus del 1, Evig". And just as you start thinking you're getting a feel for the album, you're struck by the powerfull, rolling and majestic beauty of "Livlaus del 2, Dodens Dal" undeniably one of the highlights of the album for me. "Uforgjengeleg" on the other hand has a bit of that unique Taake flavour in it, althought this by no means suggests that Orkan are on shortage in originality. Noteworthy guest vocal performances by Hoest of Taake and V'Gandr of Helheim further help to bring diversity and already great variety found in this album, making it a treasure-trove of hidden gems from beginning to end.
Livlaus was recorded live in the studio, there was no editing in basic tracks. Vocals and effects were added later later on. The lyrics are in Norwegian and the whole album is based around a loose concept about a lost soul who is trying to find peace in the kingdom of the dead. The inspiration comes from the forest around the home of drummer Rune Nesse and the old sulphur mines in his hometown, Stord, on the west coast of Norway.
Overall, Livlaus is on excellent opus and it was worth waiting for it. I can only imagine what an electrifying experience it must be to see those songs played live! Definitlyy a must listen to for any fans of black metal, and in particular for fans of Norwegian underground. Livlaus is a strong contender for many "Best of 2015" lists..
Review written by: Imago Mortis
Disclaimer: This is a guest review and it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the Terra Relicta staff.