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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Ein Skopudhr Gladra/Mistsorrow - Split CD [Aurora Australis Records - 2012]

If the handful of releases under their belt is anything to go by, Australian extreme metal imprint Aurora Australis specialise in heathen-orientated metal, an appallingly generic term used to describe anything from Manowar to Wolves in the Throne Room and which conjures up images of lofty snow-clad mountains and dark, mysterious forests at best or cringe-inducing Monty Pythons recollections at worst. As you will no doubt have noticed, it’s been a while since leather-clad headbangers (especially those of the Scandinavian persuasion) discovered the evocative power of acoustic guitars and eerie intermissions but in truth, those who understand both the power of the mighty riff and the added value of ritual-ambient soundscapes are few and far between, indeed. This split release sees two young upstarts from Down Under give their version of what the genre should sound like.

Ein Skopudhr Gladra, the new Norse-sounding project by Henry Lauer of NSW folk metallers Ironwood, are responsible for the first two tracks on the album, starting off with a 20-minute doom-laden epic based on a repetitive The Cure-esque guitar pattern which sees the addition of drums, distant humming and black metal-ish whispers around half-time. It isn’t exactly bad (in a sort of wandering-in-the-woods-on-a-freezing-autumn-Sunday-morning way) but truly mesmerising it ain’t either. The second track on offer consists of a single drone but with a running time of barely more than two minutes, its power of evocation necessarily remains limited.

Enter Mistsorrow, another Australian-based duo with roots in the local metal scene. The band begin their contribution to this self-titled release with a track that could easily have fitted onto one of Burzum’s mid-nineties ambient records, with some suitably distorted guitar thrown in for added effect. Next follows what can only be amicably termed a shameless Dauði Baldrs rip-off, at least before it veers off into minimalistic (read non-eventful) dark-ambient territory for too long than seems reasonably necessary. The short intermezzo that follows is nothing more than a ninety-second introduction to the last song on the album and might as well have been glued to it – or left out altogether – as it doesn’t really add anything, unless of course the band were contractually obliged to come up with a minimal number of songs or there happens to be an underlying esoteric meaning which escapes me. Poetically called ‘A Rememberance Piquant Scents from across the gently flowing Stream’, its title is arguably longer than its playing time, no unusual feature in this style of music it must be said. Last track then, probably the most successful of the lot. With its gentle mixture of neo-classical romanticism and creepy atmosphere, it allows the band to take their leave on a somewhat more positive note.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it is perilous, not to mention rather unfair, to judge a band upon such a limited outing (especially in the case of Ein Skopudhr Gladra) but while you feel that the musicians at work here can already boast some compositional experience, the material they present on this shared release remains too safely entrenched on the generic side of the fence to be truly comfortable and unless you start frothing at the mouth at the mere mention of the word Burzum, you will probably find it hard to shake off an embarrassingly omnipresent heard-it-all-before feeling. If you really want to appease a sudden craving for all things woodsy and desolate, you may want to give Ukrainian veterans Drudkh a try instead.

Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5

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