Dark, crushing and Ladies Home Journal? Doesn’t really seem to go together, does it? But, leave it to Kampfar to find a way. Of course there aren’t any mentions of that particular publication within this album; however, there is something unusual for black metal. What is it? It is women’s advocacy. I know what your thinking; “What the fuck?!?” or “Super lame!!!”, but it is not. Kampfar’s newest album Mare is nowhere near “lame” or “soft”. Instead, Mare is a triumph of black metal musicality and a way of showing that black metal bands and fans are not just mindless, cave-dwelling saprophytes.
Musically, Mareis what you would expect from Kampfar or most black metal bands. Throat rasping vocals, icy cold riffs and tremolo picking galore, but all the songs are about famous women in ancient culture or about the plight of women. I think it is great that a metal band has shown interest in this while reaching out to a new audience and displaying some social awareness and intelligence.
I must say that I rather enjoyed Mare. It is a quality black metal release from one of the few, non-satanic black metal bands that exist. Kampfar seem to prefer the description of “pagan”. The album itself is about 49 minutes long across 9 tracks. All of the tracks are in Norwegian except two; Mare, and Blitzwitch. Both of which are in English and both are among the best tracks on the album. Kampfar play a slightly different form of black metal, in that blast beats are rare and the pace is usually mid to slow, but I think most black metal fans will enjoy the music
on this release as the riffing is excellent and has that wind-blown, tundra coldness that we so enjoy.
The production is another highpoint on Mare. Vocals, guitars and drums all shine through as clear as Finnish vodka, a rarity among black metal releases. I attribute this to the fact that the album was recorded at Abyss studios in Sweden and produced by none other than Peter Tagtgren. Tagtgren is an excellent musician himself…anyone heard of Hypocrisy or Pain? He has produced albums for other excellent black metal acts like Immortal and Dimmu Borgir. All and all, Mare is a great album full of awesome, frigid black metal and a nice message.
Mare is available now from Napalm Records.