Dödsrit - Nocturnal Will

Artist: Dödsrit

Album Title: Nocturnal Will

Label: Wolves Of Hades

Date of Release: 22 March 2024

Who said that black metal had to be grim, raw, and nasty? It can be all those things, and there are many who might believe that this is the only way for black metal to be. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and there’s a band called Dödsrit that seem to fundamentally disagree. In fact, this hitherto unknown entity spend just over forty three minutes eloquently explaining why they might disagree. Their lecture is entitled ‘Nocturnal Will’ and you’d do well to take a listen.

‘Nocturnal Will’ is the fourth album of Dödsrit’s relatively short career, having only formed seven years ago. And I owe my new-found knowledge of the band to the extreme metal afficionados that I follow and interact with on social media. Without them, I may have never stumbled upon the quartet who call Sweden home.

When undertaking my research, as I try to diligently do, I kept reading descriptors like ‘d-beat’, ‘crust punk’ and ‘hardcore’ but I will be brutally honest, dear readers, and say that whilst these elements may crop up in the music, they are not the things that I hear. It might be because I’ve never been a huge fan of hardcore and punk music, and thus don’t recognise those ingredients as much as others. However, when I listen to ‘Nocturnal Will’, I hear melodic black metal that’s epic, majestic, and an intoxicating blend of positivity and sorrow. If anything, my first thoughts were that Dödsrit were trying to create a fusion between atmospheric black metal, NWOBHM, and power metal. And despite the endless listens, often back-to-back, my opinion hasn’t changed. This is gloriously melodic and powerful music that I feel a fool for missing out on for so long.

Perfect for my tastes, Dödsrit have chosen a fairly clean, polished sound for their album, too. It therefore allows the music to really shine. That said, the music still breathes, and there’s an organic feel that allows for the cold black metal riffing to cut deep. But it’s great to be able to hear all of the instruments in all their glory; the drums (Brendan Duffy) aren’t hollow and in another time zone, the bass (Jelle Soolsma) is audible, the guitars are powerful yet distinct, and the vocals don’t overawe the compositions. In fact, there’s very little by way of vocals; when they appear, courtesy of guitarists Georgios Maxouris and Christoffer Öster they are nasty and rasping, but used sparingly throughout, allowing the music to take the lead.

The very best thing for me, however, is the fact that Dödsrit use their two guitarists so well. Yes you get plenty of those icy staccato riffs and cold venomous intent, but you also get some glorious dual guitar harmonies and lead lines that are just wonderful. Coupled with a blend of fast-paced and more measured, galloping tempos, you can’t help but get carried away on the crest of a majestic wave of conflicting emotions, both poignant and uplifting.

It all begins within a few seconds of the unfurling of the opening track, ‘Irjala’. With cover art so bleak, accompanied by the ubiquitous illegible logo, I was expecting something raw, drenched in synths, and properly nasty. Instead, we’re hit with an immediate dual guitar harmony that recalls to me, the heyday of the NWOBHM movement. The guitars are then joined by a frantic blastbeat and higher-pitched screams before the riffs much more closely resemble those of a black metal band. From there, the song flits between those mid-tempo rhythms and strong melodies and a more intense battery. But even when Dödsrit descend into full-on black metal realms, it remains wonderfully melodic and irresistible.

The opener may last for over ten minutes, but it flies past in a blur of energy and delightful power. Aside from the quiet and minimalist mid-song section that really plays with the emotions, as it’s the first time that the bittersweet poignancy of their music really hits hard, reminding us that this is in no way meant to be a simple joyride. The strength of the music as it returns full-throttle to its black metal ways is incredible, as is the sudden sense of loss and suffering that brings a whole new feeling to those central melodies that once before had seemed so positive. The way that the music really toys with you is possibly the most impressive aspect all of a sudden.

There isn’t one of the six tracks that I’d skip, or want removed, either. Even the forty-four-second interlude entitled ‘Ember And Ash’ is an acoustic delight, the melody for which is then carried into ‘Utmed Gyllbergens Stig’, the shortest of the remaining tracks at under five minutes, but which is equally as captivating as all of the others.

I have to give a special mention to a few particular moments on the album before drawing my thoughts to a close. Firstly, there’s the early snow-capped and relentless black metal attack of ‘Nocturnal Fire’ before it morphs into a blackened thrash romp with maybe just a hint of those punk and hardcore references that I dismissed earlier. But when the whole thing is laced with such impressive melody, most other elements tend to fly out of the window for me. It’s the same story as the song draws to a close, too, when we’re hit hard by a majestic wailing lead guitar solo. It comes out of nowhere and sings to the heavens, inducing full-on air guitar even when driving, albeit one-handed as I’m not metal enough to release the wheel fully.

And what about the stomping, galloping sections within ‘As Death Comes Reaping’? Or the mid-song acoustic interlude that maintains the central melody whilst showcasing its fragile, melancholy core? Musical moments like these are a real shot to the arm when you most need it. It may be the way that Dödsrit manage to effortlessly blend those triumphant melodies with more poignant and sorrowful accents and passages, but the whole thing comes together in a fashion that’s wonderfully enriching. I’m not sure whether it was because, subconsciously, I simply needed to hear something like this right now, or something else entirely. But, whatever the reason, I have fallen head over heels for ‘Nocturnal Will’ and the band that call themselves Dödsrit. Black metal doesn’t have to be raw, evil, and nasty, not all the time. ‘Nocturnal Will’ is the album that demonstrates this perfectly, and deserves all the accolades that I hope come its way.

The Score of Much Metal: 92%



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