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Kampfar – Ofidian’s Manifest Award winner

Kampfar
Ofidian’s Manifest
by Erika Kuenstler at 03 May 2019, 2:51 AM

One of the most heart-stopping festival experiences I have had happened almost two years ago. It was during Wolfszeit Festival, with KAMPFAR mid-set, the audience fully spellbound by their spectacular show. Suddenly, the frontman Dolk asked if everyone wanted to know a secret. Of course, the crowd screamed yes, not having an inkling of what was coming. And just like that, completely out of the blue, Dolk announced that KAMPFAR was done, and that this would be their very last show, leaving their fans shocked and devastated. However, this thankfully turned into more of a hiatus than a permanent nail in the coffin, with the band needing time to focus on themselves and their own lives. And then just as suddenly came the announcement that the band would be regrouping and bringing out a new album. Today, just shortly before their 25th anniversary, KAMPFAR will be releasing that album, entitled “Ofidian’s Manifest”. And what a release this is. With this album, like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, the band marks the beginning of a completely new chapter in their history.

KAMPFAR throw you straight into the pit of their macabre music with the opener “Syndefall”, which starts off with tormented screams before plunging the listener into a festering, frozen fury that strikes at you like blizzard of razorblades. In stark contrast to this frigidity, “Ophidian” has a very personal feel to it, a twisting and sinuous darkness that claws at the very heart of you, simultaneously pummelling you whilst also driving you forward with an unstoppable force. At the pinnacle of the album we have “Natt”, whose gentler piano melodies and slower tempo provide a much needed reprieve before the roiling and almost overwhelming darkness of the remainder of the song. Some of this slower pace is carried over to the next song, with the folkier sections and cleaner vocals used on “Eremitt” giving the middle of the album a less aggressive and more uplifting feel, whilst also providing us with a glimpse of KAMPFAR’s more Pagan origins. Its unpredictability and constant turns and changes make this one of my favourites on the album, second only to the ravenous, dirty, yet seraphic madness that is “Skamløs!”. This song is guaranteed to be an absolute killer live, and I for one will be right at the front of KAMPFAR’s upcoming performance at Dark Troll Festival, headbanging myself into oblivion to this masterpiece. But digressions aside, what also sets this album apart is the excellent choice of guest artists. The first of these is Agnete Kjølsrud on the song “Dominans”, lending the song a spectacular, spine-chilling serpentine sensation with her devilish duet with Dolk. The second guest vocalist Marianne Maria Moen couldn’t be any more different and provides the perfect juxtaposition to this on “Det Sorte”, delivering a haunting, ethereal, and delicate feeling that leaves the album lingering in your mind long after the closing chords are over. These performances in addition to the cleaner style that Dolk has adopted on “Ofidian’s Manifest” give the album a vocal versatility that has added completely new facets to KAMPFAR’s music, turning what would have otherwise been a very good album into an absolute magnum opus.

I can count on both hands how many albums I’ve awarded full points to over the last 5 years, but KAMPFAR’s “Ofidian’s Manifest” is undeniably worthy of being added to this list. Whilst KAMPFAR have never been ones to scrape the bottom of the barrel in terms of creativity, it seems that through the distance gained during their hiatus, the band have been able to refocus on what it really means to be KAMPFAR. The band have never been afraid of carving out their own path, and on no album is this clearer than on “Ofidian’s Manifest”. However, it is more than just the clarity and depth of this album; in many ways, this album feels cathartic. It elicits turbulent and dark emotions, all the while destroying them in glorious triumph in the same breath. In one album, it feels like KAMPFAR have torn themselves apart and rebuilt themselves anew, staying truer to their roots than ever, whilst at the same time completely evolving away from what they used to be. I can do nothing else but highly recommend this stunning album which is arguably KAMPFAR's crowning jewel.

Memorability: 10
Production: 10
Song-writing: 10
Originality: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Syndefall
2. Ophidian
3. Dominans
4. Natt
5. Eremitt
6. Skamløs!
7. Det Sorte
Lineup:
Ole - Guitar and keys
Jon – Bass
Dolk – Vocals
Ask Ty - Drums and vocals
Record Label: Indie Recordings
     


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Edited 22 August 2019
 

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