REVIEW: Monumentor, Askeregn

Norwegian Black Metal was once a tag of quality due to the scene producing a rather large handful of classic acts over the years, but it works as a negative too when bands receive praise and hype simply based upon the geographical location they were thrust into this mortal coil from as opposed to the quality of the music on display. Luckily Trondheim’s Terratur Possessions has assembled some of the finest Black Metal not only from Norway but the whole planet and Askeregn are the latest band to add to this pantheon with the release of their debut full length Monumentor. Following on from their demo and split with Finland’s brilliant Vordr, (featuring Elemental of Circle of Ouroborus & Keres fame) Monumentor is a definite step up in both quality and approach with the band’s older material having a more ‘True’ styling similar to early Gorgoroth and other early 90’s bands from their homeland whereas Monumentor brings forth a more elegant styling with more variance in the riffing style and speed from prior outings creating a rather unique and battle like atmosphere.

Things start out with a short and precise intro before heading straight into the opening riff which is drenched in layers of feedback, giving a scratchy and untamed sound that's true to the essence of Black Metal. The recording often times feels like a rehearsal due to its unhinged and straightforward ‘live’ nature, which is no bad thing.
Second track ‘Sjelsvinter’ introduces a different element within the sound that continues throughout the rest of the release that consists of slower passages of music with a far more hypnotic and repetitive sound which blends seamlessly into the more bludgeoning aspects that are more accustomed to the traditional strains of Black Metal. This slowly drones out until the opening tremolo picking of third track ‘Dømt til liv’ carries on in a similar fashion, with more droning and repeating riffs this time adding in a vocal style which could be described as the rambling and painful screams of a madman, adding more to the sense of panic and bewilderment that Monumentor is continuing to deliver.

‘Ild til en sod’ manages to bring Askeregn's sound to an even slower pace by venturing into an almost funeral doom atmosphere, with the guitar taking the centre stage and a filthy, feedback ridden riff being played at a hauntingly slow pace. This leads straight into the final track, where the chanting continues alongside a vehement maligned riff that carries its way through the almost 9 minute running time, closing the album as it started with a gently plucked piece complete with touches of ambience laced behind it and the ghostly vocal arrangement slowly drifting off into the distance. Keeping up the confusion of the whole experience, it slowly grinds to a halt until complete silence eventually leads us out. With modern Black Metal sometimes being too polished, clean and oftentimes sterile, Monumentor manages to keep a raw, dangerous edge and a violent approach that only some of Norway’s older gods seem able to achieve. They also manage to combine this with riff upon riff that sends you into a trance, and it really is a grand achievement.

With only 6 tracks running in at a shade over 30 minutes it doesn’t overstay its welcome and delivers in spades as opposed to dragging out its idea as some of the more occult minded black metal acts manage with albums coming in at well over the hour mark. For fans of True Norwegian Black Metal and should be an essential pick up for fans of Terratur’s already budding roster which is now set to include the Austrian Death Worshippers Kringa (If you haven’t check out their ‘Total Mental Desecration’ EP for some of the finest Darkthrone Worship around).

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Label - Ektro

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Date - 23rd- 26th March
Venue - Pwllheli, Wales  

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