Ah, yes. The Hour of the Wolf, or more precisely, The Wolf’s Hour. Did Ereb Altor here decide to name their newest record after a ’68 horror film by Ingmar Bergman? Maybe so, or perhaps not. Well, whatever it may be, Vargtimman feels like a logical progression to its predecessor Järtecken.
The latter already sported material that was less focused on the age-old Bathory material. And it drifted more towards a somewhat atmospheric arena, away from the austere origins of the band.
Now here, the band’s new record is even more removed from its purported origins and now wedges itself somewhere in between crimes TÝR previously committed and some pretty hefty dose of Moonsorrow. You’ll indeed still find references to Bathory’s Quorthon, but at much lower levels of intensity than before. In other words, Pagan Metal with a strong Viking flavor is now on the menu. But without any of those excursions into the folksy realms that other bands try to win brownie points with.
Mats‘ often majestic and truly powerful clear vocals perfectly lead those soaring melodies pregnant on atmosphere and pagan energy. The often mid-tempo tracks come with sudden tremolo attacks and those delicious blackened rasps that provide that much-needed counterweight to the often heavy and – yes – overwhelming belted clears. And those bursts of deliciously vile Black Metal perfectly balance those other vocal urges the band continues to throw at you.
And there’s a lot to like on Vargtimman. Whilst the catchy I have the Sky soars upwards with the mean masses and new concerts in mind, the title track is another story. Its airs of blackened mid-tempo tremolos, epic clears, and violent growls, exude some trve power. In other words, you’ll get some sort of a beauty and the beast contest. One that pitches towering clears against the daemonic presence laying in wait.
And truly, Ereb Altor gave this type of song structure a lot of consideration. They lithely change from the epic and almost cheesy spotlight to bursts of Black Metal right down the tracklist. For example, Fenris again leans into the mean mainstream a tad too gleefully with some catchy tune that will play well on rock radio.1) But listen to Rise of the Destroyer one position down, and you’ll find way darker fare with growls being more prevalent. That one also sports riffing that finally boasts some trve bite.
Yet, if you yearn for real darkness, don’t miss Den Dighra Döden. A track that kinda stomps down the same stony path that Rotting Christ took lately. We can forever bitch about the direction RC took these days with their band, of course. But Ereb Altor here just hit the mark with a fine new track that perfectly fits their theme. And I daresay that the second half of the record spoke better to the essence of the record than the more epic first tracks ever did.
Finally, Vargtimman proves to be another pretty sturdy and quality record from the Ereb Altor factory store. And we’re pretty convinced that all the hardcore fans of this band will find a lot to like in its wolfish soundscapes.
Yet again, the RMR crew isn’t so sure if the record will keep its fire alive longer than a few months into the future. The album is well written and fascinated the folks over here – to a point, but sadly the lack of major hooks took its toll. So, time will tell, I guess. We’ll call on the RMR stats guy to measure how many times we’ll return to it over time. But it may not be all too often.
|1.||Like that the radio station can boast some metal on their beat, delicious shudder included. -Ed.|