Review: Wagner Ödegård – Om Domedag och de Femton Järtekn

Released- January 2019 by Klaxon Records

Listen while you read.




A dark and mystical feeling wastes no time in tightening its grip as the sounds begin to emanate from all around. A frigid pace to the drums keeps the wandering, morose guitar afloat; the disorienting slow pulse gives us a brief moment of reflection before the barrage truly begins. Staticky samples and bizarre vocal effects begin to wander out into the open, recalling the style present on the reverent Nidvintern album. Whereas Nidvintern was able to put one under a noisy spell with its lengthy droning chaos, Om Domedag… strikes quickly with short doses that only continue to expose themselves with each passing listen. One short dose that is quite effective is the third track “Svarþnaþer” that careens with a magnificent force similar to a majestic storm wind that bends trees at its will. Devastation is all that remains, as the interlude “Luspii” winds us along a new path.

Longing admirers of the old drumming style for Wulkanaz will rejoice at the unhinged performance here. While describing the drumming style as crude may erroneously sound like an insult, there no doubt exists a pure primitiveness in the execution. A mysterious aura surrounds the imperfections, and the songs furiously roll onward in an all-encompassing rage that not many drummers are able to achieve. Consider the track “Ekannelik”, which contains less a performance that a violent, manic episode captured on tape. Not only well-versed in great rage, Kumulonimbus considerately shows great restraint in the album’s slower tracks, allowing other horrors to venture forth and work their magic. “Vlua” is outright doom, with an irreparably rattled vocal performance that ultimately becomes quite an intense listening situation, as you never know if or when the track will collapse in upon itself. The strangely calm yet upbeat guitars in “Norna” stir up a breeze over the psychotic blasting, an all too ominous forecast at the storm to come.

Thunder rolls and lightning strikes upon the arrival to the second side. The formula for “Aon” is torturously genius, riding high with the cracking thunder.  The main riff repeatedly teases with its abrupt cutoff, only to break the chains in a slightly altered form, engulfing us in a fatal whirlpool beneath the warring sky. There is much to consider about the two triumphant sensations that suddenly lurch forth with an addicting energy: “Aon” and previously mentioned “Svarþnaþer”. Within the wealth of experimental sounds and dark energies, these moments stand out above the rest for their ability to create a sense of bewilderment, excitedly bringing us out of our daze as we are being lured into the woods by a phantom creation. Spontaneously satisfying audial experiences such as these is what begs repeated listens, trudging the wasteland yet again in search for fleeting rewards.

Forget not about the dark forces in play. “Hätta” is a seething track, strangely bubbling evil with muted riffs and hidden screams interspersed with sudden, ominous blasts of terror punctuating the suffocating and bleak landscape. The tempo grinds to a halt in the thick slimy riffs of “Likstrond”, calling to mind the slow raw perversity of the ignored lone Dragsjukan release. There is an immense amount of noise washing out every other instrument without adversely affecting the overall heaviness. As we are left to ponder the ruination of our lands in the ambient haze of “Domedagi”, jarring howls abruptly appear to snap us out of the mournful trance with a chaotic structure reminding us of the themes that began this journey.

While sonically a bit different than other releases under Wagner Ödegård, the spirit of experimentation prevails to cement its own identity while also exhibiting characteristics of the past. When examining individual tracks’ infectious influence, what must be understood is that boundless ideas are present within the short time spans. It is an extraordinary event that invokes a pure creative spirit figuratively exploding with ideas and energies, itself merely a channel for extraterrestrial transmissions. Not only is the amount of variety almost overwhelming but similar ideas often manifest themselves later in the album, creating a confounding experience of confusion and nostalgia. A triumph of rapidly fluctuating musical styles and emotions, Om Domedag och de Femton Järtekn is a complex path worth braving as the rewards seem infinite.

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