Nordvargr : Re-Awaken

They Say :- Revamped, remixed, remastered and expanded version of the long time sold out cult album “Awaken”. Thick, massive and utterly dark soundscapes of true black ambiance coming from one of the founders of the now legendary Swedish industrial scene. Drones, strings and voices of the dead join forces in the cavernous cellar of Bohult.

Nordvargr Says :-Awaken is a very important album to me, not only because it was the first solo recordings I did under my own name, but also because I recorded them during very hard personal times. It was recorded during the summer of 2002, and I was recording this music at night instead of sleeping. I recently realised that I did not use a lot of the materials I recorded before I started to actually compose the album. Many weeks were spent doing field recordings, and many hours of DAT tapes were recorded… but never used. So now I have used these old recordings again to create new soundscapes in the same vein as the original album. I have also remastered and re-edited the old masters to sound better than before – I have always disliked the final mix of Awaken, but no more… it is now finally coming together as it was intended. Add some 20+ minutes of new material made from the same sources as the original recordings and you have an album that is sure to disturb your sleep. Again.” – April 2011

We Say :- As the old saying goes, Never judge a book by its cover, or who you’re going to love by your lover. OK, well, actually just ignore that second part, I knew using the wisdom of Aerosmith would backfire.

Right… Start again *serious face*

As the old saying goes, you can never judge a book (or in this case a CD) by it’s cover. No, actually that’s wrong too. If you see Justin Beiber or 5 vacuous malnourished bints on the front you are probably completely right to judge it, and judge it harshly.

This isn’t going to plan at all…

Right, different approach. Stick to the facts and avoid any unnecessary verbal flourishes.

Re-Awaken isn’t a new album per-se, the original version came out in 2002 but this is much more than just a simple re-issue, rather it is a re-imagining of the original concept. Now when I first approached this I didn’t know quite what to expect, lots of PR babble about dark soundscapes and black ambiance and suchlike. Still skulls on the front, has to be good eh ?

The album opens with some harsh, industrial noise. It’s the sort of thing that loads of “extreme metal” bands do, you know a couple of minutes of ambient sounds before all hell breaks loose. There are metallic clangs, the sound of a hammer hitting something off in the distance, some deep mournful strings and a general feeling of unease.

And you wait for the hell to break loose…. but it never does….

Instead you find yourself dragged down into a weird and atmospheric world made of strange, yet almost recognisable, sounds. Oh and occasionally there are even musical instruments in there and occasionally things do take a slightly more musical turn (such the military drumbeat that permeates through Seeds Of Blood Pt 1, the acoustic guitar in Dreamstates or the dirty, distorted, droning electric guitars that appear from time to time) but for the most part you wouldn’t call this music. If I’ve ever heard anything for which the label “soundscape” is accurate then it’s this; you really do feel that you’re being drawn into a deep, dark, frightening and lonely place.

At first listen I didn’t really get what this was all about, it really takes a few spins to get to grips with even a part of what is going on here, particularly in tracks like Lament II where choral voices overlay a distorted, electronic sound which slowly pulsates and throbs as it washes over the listener. It never rises to a tune or descends to being “just noise” but instead occupies some netherworld in between. This is something which almost seems to have the ability to effect the listener on an emotional level which is rare, For example there are some haunting screams on the track Natt. Are they lost souls crying out for salvation, demons hunting you down or just birds circling overhead ?? I don’t know but the buggers made me jump the first time I listened through headphones in a darkened room 🙂

A lot of bands claim to do “atmosphere” but this is truly one of the most atmospheric things I have heard, a horror movie soundtrack that is like a nightmare version of those whale song CDs so beloved of new age types. I’m no expert on this genre of music, but based on the introduction presented here I think I’ll go do a little exploring.