Kampfar‘s raw power already hit us like dark lightning back in 2019 when Ofidians Manifest appeared at our doorstep. It’s difficult to describe but there seemed to be some cosmic juice behind that sort of proto Black Metal. And besides, this band is one of the age-old BM outfits that survived all those tribulations that befell other biggies in the genre. And I guess, it’s their authenticity and starkly barebone approach to their craft that continuously garners them kudos after all these years.
So, at the time of the release of Til Klovers Takt, we wondered how in the seething hell this band would keep the strength of their performance up. After all, the yardsticks they set themselves are insanely high.
But hey, once Lausdans under stjernene took off pretty much like Moonsorrow from another dimension, our nerves were a bit less frayed. Til Klovers Takt truly is a potent mix of old-style Scandinavian Black Metal. With a penchant for that meaty caveman sound we often crave. But when Kampfar‘s manly men attacked with Urkraft1) in a Dark Metal robe first, and shortly after that with a heavy stomp that would make Rotting Christ go for seconds, we knew that this record would be at least as powerful than its predecessor. And surprise, somewhat contrary to the statements of the band, this new record ain’t all that far removed from the earlier offering. But why should it? It’s Kampfar after all. But, tighter songwriting and minute attention to production do pay off after all.
And it shows. Til Klovers Takt comes in a much more compact setting than Ofidians Manifest ever did. This is probably what the band meant by – and I quote – “…having taken control of all aspects of the recording process.” Kampfar also whittled the number of guest contributors down to just two this time. This sense of ‘less is moar’ is a good thing. A band can kill a record’s essence with too many guests. So, first, you’ll find that Stamos Koliousis (Satan’s Wrath) alias Dr. Atrocious2) provided some of the vocals on Til Klovers Takt. Second, Sunniva Herland Monstad provided those short blurbs on the Hardanger fiddle.
The record combines the brutal power of SIG:AR:TYR with the diabolical muscle and ritualistic urges of Darkend. A lot of that comes in measured, mid-tempo riffs. With enough pretty spectacular breaks to allow for those eerie detours into dark and icily ambient soundscapes. At odd moments, you’ll hear that piano from hell pregnant on atmospherics. A sound that always generates that crazy mental image of a skeleton man with a bowler hat hitting the keys. Or – again – the Hardanger fiddle suddenly wails away, a bit like the lost ghosts from Niflheim. The bass with its nasty blast also spatters itself abundantly over some of the tracks (Urkraft for instance). And that always projects dreadful images of bloody rituals in dark basements.
But don’t think Til Klovers Takt means a majestic march to the 10th circle of hell only. Once Fandens Trall or the harsh voice of Flammen fra Nord kick in, a not-so-subtle sense of dissonance appears. This is trve rough-hewn and deliciously chaotic Extreme Metal. And by doing that, the record projects a sense of anxious terror that thrives on those ever-changing vile rasps and ominous clear vocals. But wait until you hit Rekviem. That’s when the band kicks it up a few notches and goes full invocation of the fiend on you.
In the end, however, Til Klovers Takt truly rivals its predecessor. This new record is Kampfar at their best. And that puts them at a level with Seth or Corpus Diavolis, which is a compliment. So, if you’re looking for some real Black Metal delight with a just balance of rotten metal and cool melodic parts, then this is your record. The band pulled out all the stops this time. And out came a record forged in the fiery pits of hell, yet balanced and with enough variation to delight any acolyte of blackened metal at large.
But to drive that point home, let me just quote the band once more: “Til Klovers Takt is the culmination of four lifetimes worth of experience in songwriting and musicianship. Coupled with the hunger to always make the next work the best, it is the image of a band in their prime.”
Well spoken, exactly my thoughts. And my thanks to whoever wrote this.