For Hver Tanke Mister Sj​æ​len Atter Farve: in every moment, epic raw black metal and orchestral synth drama dominate

Ildganger, For Hver Tanke Mister Sj​æ​len Atter Farve, United Kingdom, Death Prayer Records, limited edition vinyl LP (2024)

“With every thought, the soul loses colour again” … that’s the English-language translation Google Translate gives for the title of Danish BM act Ildganger’s second album “For hver tanke mister sjælen atter farve”, hinting at the misery, bleakness and dark uncertainty threaded through the recording’s five tracks. The album’s cover art is no more reassuring in its dark murky colours and style suggesting inner storms and general chaos.

“En sjael til dom” (“A soul for judgement”) starts the album in epic depressive doomy blackness, from slow jangling-guitar moping to hard riff crunching confrontation and dense noisy storms of raw tremolo guitar grind, urgent beating percussion and above all the gruff declamatory vocals that add extra paint-stripper harshness to the music. You certainly feel as though you’re tumbling into a spinning black whirlwind, the centre of which leads you inexorably into another, more forbidding dimension than any you might have experienced in your worst nightmares or most desolate moments. However, it’s really with the second track “Ved horisontons ende” (“At horizon’s end”) that Ildganger’s full aggression and songwriting flair are unleashed in music that can sound shrill and almost hysterical with rapid-fire trilling riffs backed by pained synths. Drama ebbs and flows as the music transits through a brief atmospheric passage that suddenly ends in blasts of guitar noise, blast beats and sonorous orchestral synth background.

After a brief ambient instrumental punctuated by claps of thunder, rain shower and sighing choirs, the album plunges back into the existential storm with “Dans om tomhedens mund” (“Dance around the mouth of the void”), a solid and intense drama combining raw BM, symphonic BM grandeur and even snippets of post-BM radiance and melody. The track is so dense with layers of guitar texture and keyboard theatrics that it feels overwhelming, even suffocating at times, and a whiff of decadence and decay is not all that far away. The album closes with “Conflagration in the Heart of Stone”, the only track on the album with English-language lyrics, an even more histrionic piece that gathers up all that the previous tracks have unleashed and poured these forces into a mix of hard-hitting machine-gun percussion, showers of burning guitar and chiming jangly guitar melodies, and evil-sounding keyboard sighing. The track chugs off over the horizon in a mighty barrage of ferocious guitar shower, thumping percussion and deranged orchestral synth bombast, leaving behind a sad lament.

On the assumption that Ildganger is a solo project, the album as it is, is a sterling effort in song composition and performance, with all instruments harmonising very well even when the music appears most chaotic. The slightly murky production is both an asset and a liability: audiences will appreciate that the muddy quality adds bleak atmosphere but at the same time it makes the music seem a bit one-dimensional and blunted when perhaps it needs to be sharp. The guitars could certainly do with extra power and zing as there are occasions where they are reduced to a mere grinding presence. “For hver tanke …” is a decent enough recording though I’m not sure it has much staying power: it doesn’t offer much, musically anyway, that has not already been done with the mix of elements and influences from different sub-genres of black metal and dark ambient.

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