Isengard - Vinterskugge ©1994 Deaf Records
1. Vinterskugge
2. Gjennom Skogen Til Blaafjellene
3. Ut I Vannets Dyp Hvor Mørket Hviler
4. Dommedagssalme
5. In The Halls And Chambers Of Stardust The Crystallic Heavens Opens
6. Fanden Lokker Til Dypet
7. Naglfar
8. Thy Gruesome Death
9. Deathcult
10. Rise From Below
11. Dark Lord Of Gorgoroth
12. Trollwandering (outro)
13. The Fog (early 1991)
14. Storm Of Evil
15. Bergtrollets Gravferd
16. Our Lord Will Come

As much as the elitist black metal hordes are loathe to admit it, marketing does count for something in the genre. Isengard's Vinterskugge is a prime example of something that would and should be ignored if not for the prominent "Solo Project of FENRIZ from Darkthrone" sticker on the jewel case. To break it down into simple terms: Darkthrone Good. Fenriz Good. Thus, Isengard Good. Don't just make assumptions like that. Isengard is simply Mr. F's dabbling in slightly non-Darkthrone related material, most likely home-recorded, and then released to a gullible public. That is not to say all of Vinterskugge is clumsy, amateurish and tiresome, because there are some interesting songs throughout. Granted, some of the problem is that there is material from 1989, 1991 and 1993 all thrown onto this CD. But the biggest problem is that much of the material only seems half-realized in both songwriting and execution. Or, which is also very likely, it was half-assed. Often the guitars and drums are pursuing two different songs within the same moment and do not lock together for any sort of unity. Vocally, Fenriz's hilarious "dramatic" clean singing voice reminds me of what Weird Al might do if he was doing a parody of Viking metal. And of course, with the varying recording dates for the material, there is no sense of flow throughout the hour long disc. Most of the 1989 demo is of very low quality and it doesn't take long for the songs to prove themselves uninteresting. Of the better material, the keyboard soundtrack feel of "In the halls and chambers of stardust the crystallic heavens opens" (how's that for an overblown title?) is effective. "Fanden lokker til dypet" has a bit of motion to it, somewhat capturing the Viking-esque feel that he might have been attempting. "Storms of Evil" furthers that warrior chant epic feel to a larger degree and is easily the best song on the disc. But three or four decent songs do not really justify the general pointlessness of the majority of the material presented here. Had a lesser known artist than Fenriz released this, no one would care or much less have a kind thing to say about it. This is the kind of album you dub the few decent songs and pass along to a more gullible black metal fan.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1999

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