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Nifrost – Orkja Award winner

by Justin Jospeh at 11 October 2021, 10:06 PM

Have you ever had a dream where you visit a place that seems foreign to you, yet in your very soul, you know it feels right, it feels like you were meant for the surroundings? Not a disconsolate feeling where your dreams manifest a physical earthly place in which you yearn to return to, I am talking about that space that exists not upon the physical plane, but that which only takes form within the confinements of your mind, that realm where solace is gifted, maybe it is your personal ‘heaven’, your sanctuary, maybe in dreams the sun and moon exist in the same proximity and the ocean becomes the ceiling to your skies or maybe your personal sanctuary is simply a desolate space where silence becomes noise. Whatever formed, it ensnares and captivates you that when you awake from slumber you long to revisit your ‘home’, wishing that which was conjured through imagination may become reality.

Norwegian Black Metal outfit, NIFROST’s album, “Orkja” exemplifies this sentiment perfectly, as it feels like a dreamscape in which the elements have been extracted and morphed into sound and channelled into this very release. Upon this album, your standard Black Metal tropes exist, however, these tropes are merely used as the bare foundation of this landscape for which its citadel will be erected upon, to call this simply ‘music’ in my opinion would be an injustice, as yes, in all senses it is music, but it is more of an experience that takes your imagination upon a journey if you submit yourself to welcome and feel the essence as it flows in and out, coiling and undulating like the river that desires not to be contained. “Ishjarte”, a nine-minute epic is a track which explores the atmospheric merits of this album, as the song itself feels like the breath of the wind that would gift life to the lands but also the same winds that would uproot the tree that stands still, this is exuded with the cluster of riffs that morphs into variations of tremolo picking that feels melodic as well as ominous with the subtle intricacies of the cymbals and bass lines. Imagine gazing upon a breath-taking scenery, where your eyes become drunk with nature’s sculpture, the very breath you inhale and exhale, that moment of tranquillity that is formed, if those few seconds were slowed down and concentrated upon, it would be this very track. As even though there exist contours where the musical complexity can be revered, it is the cohesion of all the components that work in tangent to birth this splendid ambience.

The guitars and percussions represents one of the highlights upon “Orkja” as it creates a language that cannot be rendered by speech nor comprehended by sight, as it feels like a spirit which flows through this landscape, the very spirit that sways each blade of grass upon a field, the spirit that ripples a boundless ocean, and this is conjured with the dexterity of the drums and riffs, expelling a slick yet icy tone upon a crashing thick percussive beat, both elements become unified as one where the progressive moments are concerned. Tracks such as “Nauden” and “Orkja brotna” demonstrates these moments of grandeur where the music delves into a folk-like section mixed with melodic patterns, however the conjoined effort never feels feigned, like the falling snow that bleeds upon the mountains creating a monolith of frost to behold, so too does the blending of the guitars and drums work where the components converge naturally.

Like the voice of the forest that travels through a veil of mist expelling an orphic sensation, so too does the vocals upon “Orkja” shape its essence to suit, “Sirkel” is a track where the vox expels an aura reminiscent of the harsh freezing cold that radiates from the heart of winter as it rustles through the trees, in other words the vocals feels like a medium in which nature’s melody resonates within like the breath that courses through a flute, pulsating in different sounds. This is another highlight upon the album, as the vocals grants the album the ability to transcend into a different level where the constructs feel nature-like, as though the music unfolded would be the very bloodlines that run deep within the earth.

NIFROST have built a world that entrances the listener that makes one want to dwell within the womb of these sounds, to experience the sheer, unbridled energy that courses through the veins of each track as it echoes forth. For that sentiment, this is why I humbly believe that the band has created a perfect album, for one can draw the conclusion that the music crafted seeks not to convey the virtuosity but instead it acts as a conduit for the tongue of nature to speak forth its words.

In ending this review, this is a definite must for everyone who are fans of the different shades of Metal, even those who are new and captivated by its sound, I would still recommend this album to you. Obviously your experience may be different to mine, but I believe that the imagery for which the album churns and creates upon the canvas of the mind is one that may express beauty to the listener, in whatever form you may perceive.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Nauden
2. Eit siste ynskje
3. Orkja brotna
4. Hausten
5. Sirkel
6. Vatnet blir til blod
7. Ishjarte
Kjetil Andreas Nydal - Bass, Vocals
Jørn Ståle Norheim - Guitars
Eyvind Aardal - Vocals, Guitars
Henrik Nesse – Drums
Record Label: Dusktone


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