”I think Black Metal is at it’s finest when it balances on an edge between contrasting emotions, when you’re not really sure if what you’re listening to is beautiful or ugly, aggressive or solemn, personal or universal, etc.” – Ole Hartvigsen, Kampfar
Kampfar and I are on the same page on this matter. To please me, a black metal band has to produce something that evokes all these emotions within me. When the formula is balanced, black metal transcends a mere good listen into something more. An emotional journey maybe. The labels folk metal or viking metal usually sends me running. To produce something worthwhile within the boundaries of those genres is no small feat, in my opinion. You’re often just one gang choir or hurdy gurdy away from everything turning into kitty litter. “Ofidians Manifest”, like it’s predecessors, manages this balance all the way through. It is a more than worthy continuation of the bands work.
As I have severe allergies to folk metal, the band was not on my radar for many years. But as they won the Grammy in 2016, my interest was caught and I just had to hear what the fuss was about. I have since greatly enjoyed Profan. Ofidians Manifest is cut from the same cloth. So how to describe the album? I honestly have a bit of trouble pinpointing exactly what makes me tick with Kampfar, but I’ll give it my best shot. I guess you could make parallels with the later day Satyricon, in the way that the sound of it is a bit stark and bare. Kampfar however does not make mind numbingly boring records. The prevailing theme here is rhythm. If it wouldn’t bring bands such as Pantera and Machine head to mind, I wouldn’t mind labeling Kampfar as groove metal. The album is built around rhythm. Drums, guitars and vocals are the foundations for the album, pianos and various synthesizers are used for decorating it. The latter are used sparingly, thank you very much. The faster and more condensed tracks are placed in the beginning of the record, and they are flawlessly executed. As the record progresses, the tempo gets slower and the songs gets increasingly elaborate. At first I thought this made me zone out on the second half of the record, but a few listenings later I actually enjoy the longer songs more. They are not instant hits, but they have that staying power.
Just a few days of listening to Ofidians Manifest is not enough to do an in depth review of it’s qualities. The more I listen, the more I am captivated by it. It may very well be the bands best work to date.
Title: Ofidians Manifest
Label: Indie Recordings
Date of release: 3/5-19