Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Album Review: Dråpsnatt - Hymner till undergången

Dråpsnatt - Hymner till undergången

Artist: Dråpsnatt (Sweden)
Album Title: Hymner till undergången
Record Label: Frostscald Records (Russia)
Released: 2010 (July)
Purchased From: Red Stream

One might raise an eyebrow upon discovering that a band has released their sophomore album a mere nine months after the release of their debut, but in Dråpsnatt's case it has turned out surprisingly well. Many of us wanted to hear more from this band after the 2009 release of I Denna Skog, and our impatience was quickly placated with the very solid Hymner till undergången.

The style --the formula, if you will-- of Dråpsnatt has not changed since I Denna Skog. Take elements of old-school black metal, add some touches of atmospheric black metal and folk metal, and throw in some excellent harsh and clean vocals, and you start to have an idea of what's in store. That's not to say that nothing has changed here; Hymner till undergången sounds a little less melancholic than the debut, while the folk touches are more prevalent this time around. There are no folk instruments, but it can be heard in the piano and occasionally in the synths (like on the song "Dråpsnatt"), as well as in moments of clean guitar throughout the CD. The opening track, "En Ensam Sol Går Ner," is perhaps the folkiest-sounding track on the album (though we're not talking Korpiklaani or Finntroll here), so it starts things off in a different manner than the aggressive opening track of I Denna Skog did.

However, things get more aggressive with the opening minute or so of the second track, "Arvssynd," which starts off with some blastbeats and Vinterfader's unhinged screaming before settling into a more melodic vibe. The second half of this song contains one of the most epic and glorious moments of the CD, both fierce and life-affirming at the same time. In my review of I Denna Skog, I talked about the juxtaposition of beauty and aggression, and that holds true here as well. It's not always a matter of following a dark, aggressive section with a beautiful, melodic one. They're often happening at the same time, and you might get a different "feeling" depending on which you focus upon during a particular listen.

So basically Hymner till undergången is, not surprisingly, very similar to the band's debut, but it's not as if the band has cynically churned out a second album made up of leftovers and sound-alikes. Hymner till undergången is strong enough to stand on its own feet, and the songs are well-crafted, varied, and interesting, just as they were on I Denna Skog. If I were to compare the two albums side by side, I would say that I Denna Skog is the superior one, but I feel that both are well worth buying, and, if you enjoy one, you will certainly enjoy the other as well. I think that the songs on Hymner till undergången take a little more to grow on you, partly because, on this album, the songs tend to unfold differently. The best stuff (the most epic) tends to be on the second half of each song, rather than towards the beginning, as was often the case on I Denna Skog.

Highlights: the second halves of "Arvssynd," "Mannen I Min Spegel," and "Tonerna De Klinga," as well as all of closing track "Gasten." But it's all pretty great.

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