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Det Frysende Nordariket

Ildjarn - Det Frysende Nordariket ©1995 Norse League Productions
1. Mørklagt Sti
2. Svarte Hjerter
3. Nattens Ledestjerne
4. Natt Og Tåke
5. Innferd
6. Kronet
7. Sola Skjultes
8. Ild
9. Fjerde Dag
10. Et Glimt
11. Støv Og Aske
12. Øde
13. Utsyn, Del I-V
14. Demring
15. Minnesjord, Del I-VI
16. Myrkvar
17. Dalens Ånd Avslutning

Compiling three demo recordings, Det Frysende Nordariket is a digipack collection of Ildjarn's early music that is sure to leave many a metal fan scratching their heads at his extremely stripped-down, blistering raw musical style. Ildjarn's methods are very basic, but effective all the same. Using nothing more than a drum machine set either on "Rock 1" or "Rock 2" settings and heavily distorted, dirty power chords, Ildjarn creates a style of music so ugly that Darkthrone fans may even complain about the rawness contained here.

While the throat shredding black metal styled vocals (some of which are provided by Ishahn from some band called Emperor, whom you may be familiar with) are what put this band in the genre, the music is crusty, primitive and wonderfully basic in the best way. Most of the songs use very simple, repetitive guitar lines to get the point across. Those who need some guitar hero antics will need to look elsewhere. Moreover, the production is obviously an element that goes unheeded. These tracks all sound like they were recorded on home machines, but given good clarity despite the raw nature of the music. Since the guitar style does get repetitive, the music takes on a droning tendency, which is not entirely a bad thing. The one comment about this CD is that twenty-five (although only seventeen are listed) tracks of Ildjarn's music is a bit much and to avoid becoming a drooling, snarling homicidal maniac, you might best break up the listening session.

Ildjarn is not a band for everyone. Those who are constantly seeking out the most low-fi, primitive, yet accomplished black metal are recommended to check this out. What Ildjarn does is highly specialized, but he does it extremely well. I'd much rather listen to this than hear yet another clone of Theatre of Tragedy or unexciting symphonic black metal.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2001

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Svartfråd EP

Ildjarn - Svartfråd EP ©1995 Norse League Productions
1. I Anmarsj Gjennom Grangrunn
2. Ved Tjernets Bredd
3. Vintermark
4. Skogens Hatefulle Skapning

Ildjarn may very well be one of the most stripped down, raw and truly ugly of all the Norwegian black metal bands. This brief ten minute mini-CD is a perfect example of Ildjarn's motif, which is as bleak as Gary, Indiana, and ugly as a leprosy convention. This disc co-bills Nidhogg as a contributor but Svartfråd is not exactly different from other Ildjarn discs. The process for songwriting in Ildjarn is simple: pick a chord. Play it. The drums are straightforward, 4/4 beats that are very repetitive, just like the riffing. The production, which obviously saves the band some high studio bills, is blisteringly dirty, distorted and low-fi as one can imagine. The vocals are terribly distorted and raw, throat-shredding lacerations. And although this should all add up to a horrendous musical concept, this stuff grooves like mad! Certainly repeated listens will cause an aneurysm but regardless, this is as close to pure hate capture on tape as you may hear. Ildjarn is the crustiest of the black metal legions and definitely the dirtiest. Recommended only for those who think Darkthrone is too polished.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2001

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Hardangervidda Part 1

Ildjarn - Hardangervidda Part I ©2002 Norse League Productions
1. Sunrise
2. Daybreak
3. Amber Lake
4. Northern Winds
5. Blissful Mountain View
6. After the Rain
7. Nature's Church
8. Fleeing Hard
9. September
10. The Ermine
11. Frozen Plain
12. Sunset
13. Night

Considering Ildjarn's reputation for spewing forth some of the most primitive, unpolished black metal in the history of the genre (think of a lumberjack's buzzsaw set to a basic drum machine with some distorted screaming), his ambient albums are a surprising diversion that evokes images of Brian Eno rather than heavy equipment. Now, most of us are aware that black metal musicians do not necessarily have the greatest track record when it comes to making electronic music. Burzum, for instance, committed the ultimate cold laking with his universally dreadful keyboard albums that he composed on prison computers. (Of course, it should be stated that it might be very difficult to compose music whilst one's head is firmly planted in one's posterior, as seems to be the case with Varg Vikernes.) Mortiis tinkled around for a number of years after leaving Emperor to some moderate success, but eventually proved he was more adept at goth rock on The Smell of Rain. To think that someone who appeared as musically limited as Ildjarn could actually produce a fairly good ambient album is rather impressive.

Hardangervidda, based on a scan of the song titles, appears to be a musical interpretation of experiencing a full day in nature's bosom. As such, the album veers a bit towards some of the new age "nature" music, an abysmal genre that mostly sells CDs in stores that tout the benefits of magic crystals and perhaps can even read your aura. Fortunately, the monochromatic album cover, featuring the Norwegian tundra, helps prevent the album from sliding into such a woeful place. That, and the fact that it displays enough of the ambient traits established by the likes of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp to demonstrate the proper credentials. The album relies a lot on long, sustained synth pads and subtle melodies with occasional triumphant swells. There isn't a huge variety between the songs, although perhaps on the day that inspired this album's nature theme, the weather was pretty much the same all day.

Compared to musicians who have dedicated their musical careers to ambient electronic music, Ildjarn falls short, but in the context of black metal musicians giving their keyboards a whirl, Hardangervidda is pleasant and decent for background music. The mere fact that his metal music is painfully ugly and lacking any subtle touches, the utter tranquility and peacefulness of Hardangervidda is impressive indeed.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2009

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