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The so-called "super group" is often a bit of a mixed bag, a mish-mash of ideas can easily become a mess if left uncontrolled, and there is also the ever present danger of such a group beginning to believe their hype and lose the plot (Bloodbath anybody?). Den Saakaldte features members of bands such as Gorgoroth, Shining, 1349, Dødheimsgard and Urgehal, and it is obvious that this could have gone in a number of different directions. With Øl, Mørke og Depresjon, the chosen path is overall quite similar to Shining's latest ouput – depressive, largely mid-paced Black Metal, with a modern production, and some minor avant-garde elements and atmospherics.

To begin with we are treated to a lengthy atmospheric intro that meanders along, providing a convincing unsettling undercurrent. After a while a very creepy piano part comes in – a lurching, circus style waltz that delivers the slight touch of madness it intended. Then the metal starts, and, apart from the quite chunky sound, the first thing you will notice is the trumpets blaring. They placed just a little bit in the background, but are clear enough to give a kind of "deformed jazzman improvs to lurching metal riff" feel that is pretty unique. These brass interludes reappear from time to time through the album, and are always welcome while never outstaying said welcome. For the most part the music swaps between some stomping late 80's style Thrash with a light coat of Black, and some vicious, evil modern Black Metal. There is an unsurprising Shining influence, as well as some of the more brutal war metal kind of riffing you'd find on an Urgehal album. Den Saakaldte pull this all together really quite nicely, and it keeps the tracks interesting throughout, especially the nearly twelve minute "Jag Är den Fallna" which is a real tour de force of blasting and riffing, and worth the price of admission by itself. Along with the intro there is "Øde" which is little more than a mid album "atmospheric piece", and the fifty seconds of the final track, so really there are only three proper songs here, but between them they deliver about twenty-eight minutes of quality Black Metal.

The production is pretty standard "modern Black Metal" with beefy guitars in the vain of Shining's later works, and some modern Gorgoroth evident in the tremolo sections. The bass is clear and present and is often found doing some very interesting stuff, roiling around under the guitars with the kind of menace a metal bass should deliver. Sadly, the drums are way too low in the mix, with a clicky bass drum and all but inaudible snare, and that occasionally makes it difficult to gather the pace of some riffs, but they are easier to pick up when the music slows down. Kvarforth's vocals are decidedly blacker than they have been on the last couple of Shining discs, coming across as a back of the throat style blackened croak, with his performance on "Jag Är den Fallna" being pretty damned intense. There are clean vocals as well, and they are serviceable if not spectacular, but they are a welcome change of pace when they appear.

Øl, Mørke og Depresjon is an album of quality Black Metal interspersed with some light avant-garde sections in the form of some unconventional instruments. The songs are diverse without being disjoint, and the songwriting is excellent throughout. Originally intended as a demo it comes across much more as a proper EP, and for fans of the various bands that make up Den Saakaldte this is a worthy purchase indeed, and offers up enough goodness that it is at least worth a listen for most anyone else.

Read this article on the author's website: Metalcrypt.
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