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Drottnar - Monolith

by Chris Hawkins at 04 February 2019, 6:44 AM

DROTTNAR is a Black Metal band from Norway that plays on the more technical side.  The band actually has over twenty-two years of history as they formed in ‘96 as VITALITY playing Death Metal.  In ‘97, they changed their name to DROTTNAR when they began to play Black Metal.  Following 2012’s “Stratum,” “Monolith” is the band’s third full-length.  It seems most of their releases in their long career have been singles and EPs.

When listening to this album, it does not necessarily adhere to what my preconceived notion of Technical Black Metal is.  Thinking of that style, my thoughts naturally shift to the mid to late period of EMPEROR’s career.  Unlike their Norwegian brethren, though, DROTTNAR do not perform exercises of dizzying speed, blazing riffs, and mind-blowing arpeggios.  A point of reference could be the sound of later period SATYRICON with more focus on complex riffs and chord changes.  Visually, the band uses early 20th century military regalia in order to mock the totalitarian regimes of the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

Afterglow,” a short intro, presents minor key chords and feedback in order to create the gloom needed for the intended atmosphere.  The second track, “Funeral of Funerals,” is one of the best on the album.  In the first thirty seconds of this song, there are at least four or five different riffs.  There is a fine display of skill, though, as the transitions come across fluidly.  The chorus features the first use of double bass which intertwines with precise double picking.  “Subterranean Sun,” the fourth track, begins with a massively low, brooding bass line which propels the song forward.  It isn’t often when the low end gets a chance to shine in this genre.  The drums keep things interesting employing an interesting approach to tom work, double bass, and cymbals.  It is in the percussion where one can really hear the technicality of the music.  The chords used in the latter part of the song mix things up nicely as they employ a tasteful amount of melody.

Charagma,” the sixth track, features a massive riff promulgated by slides and a bouncing rhythm.  Stops and change-ups give the song a choppy feel.  More prodigious bass work creates the song’s memorability.  The ninth track, “Pestleid,” has a unique groove created in the beginning and returned to throughout amid changes of tempo and approach.  Multiple layers of guitars create an intriguing mix of chords.  “Eschaton,” the final track is perhaps the most exciting on the album.  It creates an air of mystery through the melody and the combined effect of the instruments and keyboards paint a unique scene.  Tremolo picking is used here for the first time, in fact.

The band certainly has a unique tone to their music.  In fact, they truly differ from just about every other Black Metal band out there.  The guitar sound would best be described as smooth and polished, certainly not the buzzing, chainsaw type preferred by purists.  It is squashed down with the use of compression to create a type of uniformity.  Thankfully, though, there is a very vivid presence of bass on the album which lets the music truly roar.  Not every Black Metal fan out there will automatically dig this, but an open mind employed will allow the listener to properly digest their original, militaristic brand of musical nihilism.

Songwriting:  6
Originality:  7
Memorability:  6
Production:  6

3 Star Rating

1. Afterglow
2. Funeral of Funerals
3. Aphelion
4. Subterranean Sun
5. Axiom
6. Charagma
7. Ophir
8. Nihilords
9. Pestleid
10. Antivolition
11. Monolith
12. Eschaton
Glenn-David Lind – Drums
Karl Fredrik Lind– Guitars, Vocals
Håvar Wormdahl – Bass
Record Label: Endtime Productions


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Edited 22 November 2019

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