Album Title: Den Tapte Krigen
Label: Season Of Mist
Date of Release: 27 January 2023
The only problem with pacing myself with my reviews, is that I have to apologise a lot more, for delays in getting them written and published. If I go hell for leather as I did in 2022, I don’t have that problem, but as I discovered, I will burn myself out. For me, the priority is keeping a steady flow of reviews going, picking and choosing albums more carefully, and hopefully maintaining a presence throughout the year. And so it is that well over a month after its release, I am publishing my thoughts on ‘Den Tapte Krigen’ from Bizarrekult.
When the promo was presented to me earlier in the year, I took one look at the cover and the name of the band and moved on. A picture of what appears to be stag beetles fighting, superimposed with manmade buildings on their backs initially did not get my juices flowing. And the name ‘Bizarrekult’ didn’t jump out at me either. It wasn’t until I was recommended the album by followers on social media that I took a listen.
As it turns out, I had wrongly (once again) judged a book by its cover. Bizarrekult, as it turns out, is the chosen moniker of Roman V, a poet turned musician who plunders what’s loosely described as the world of post black metal to bring his aural vision to life. In the studio, he has help from others to bring the music to life but ostensibly, Roman V is Bizarrekult. ‘Den Tapte Krigen’, meaning ‘The Lost War’ is the second album from Bizarrekult, following 2021’s ‘Vi Overlevde’. The album deals thematically with constant wars within ourselves, as Roman says, “it’s a war in which we can lose everything, including our personality, faith, honour and dignity.”
Having never heard the debut, I cannot compare ‘Den Tapte Krigen’ with its predecessor musically. That discovery is for another day. For now, though, what I can say with some certainty, is that I have been more than a little surprised with the music on this record. It’s a positive surprise too, because there is an awful lot to enjoy on this sophomore effort. I’ll admit at the outset that I’m not a fan of everything on the record, because there are a few peaks and troughs across the forty-two or so minutes, and eight individual tracks. However, the vast majority of the content is of a high quality, engaging, and entertaining.
One of the reasons for the up-and-down nature of the music here, is that I don’t feel certain that Roman V is completely clear in his own mind about the ultimate direction and sound of Bizzarekult. It means that there is a fair bit of difference between some of the songs that are presented. Despite a ferocious and fast-paced early black metal assault in the opening stages of the first track, ‘Du Lovet Meg’, clean, delicate vocals alongside a sudden absence of riffing take the song in an ambient post rock direction that heavily reminds me of Sigur Ros. The track flits back and forth between brutality and beauty, with the quieter sections enhanced by strong melodic sensibilities and nods in the direction of Alcest and other blackgaze acts of note.
By contract, ‘Kongen’ starts out more quietly, with prominent bass rumblings alongside clean guitars, building slowly through dark soundscapes, increasing the menacing intent and sense of drama nicely. It only lasts a little over four minutes, but it has quite an epic feel nonetheless as it eventually allows something more akin to black metal peek through. In terms of melody though, this is far less evident, and there are no clean vocals, or strong hooks. This is a much more brooding, unsettling affair all round, markedly different to its immediate predecessor.
The title track offers something different again, in that there’s another powerful black metal onslaught in the opening stages, albeit laced with delicate, understated melody that finally comes more to the fore towards the midway point thanks to fast-picked staccato guitar work. Then, in the final minute or two, we’re treated to something much more funeral doom in terms of pace and the sense of utter despair that seeps through these last bars.
The doom element returns within ‘Hvis Jeg Bare Kunne…’ but nowhere near as pronounced and certainly not before the strong sense of melody returns in abundance in the opening stages, wrapped again in a gorgeous post-black metal attire. The brisk pace is nicely counterpointed by elegant, almost soothing melodies that float through the aggression. At the half-way mark, out come some of the most stunning melodies on the album, as the pace slows and lead guitar work takes to the fore. The longest track on the album, it also feels like one of the most varied, too, with room also for moments bordering on stark minimalism, as well as a satisfyingly strong closing sequence.
Elsewhere, ‘Midt I Stormen’ offers a much rawer approach, bordering on black ‘n’ roll at points, with its much spikier attitude up front and central. That is, until the midpoint, where those fragile vocals make a return alongside a much less angular and more melodic soundscape.
It’s fair to say that Bizarrekult are far from the finished article, and I predict much more to come from the Siberian musician, Roman V, with future releases. In fact, I predict that album number three could be very special indeed – I’m certainly hoping so. In the here and now though, for all of my small misgivings, I have to say that ‘Den Tapte Krigen’ has provided me with plenty of enjoyment and satisfaction. Plus, it’s great comfort to know that there are still artists out there willing to give new ideas a try and offer us something just a little different along the way.
The Score of Much Metal: 80%