Split by Kjeld and Wederganger

Release date: January 27, 2017
Label: Ván Records

Modern black metal has a high level of aesthetics. The trouble is, most formidable bands in the scene are either doing something different or showcasing throwback qualities. Enter Ván Records’ latest split release featuring Kjeld and Wederganger. Both bands are melodically-driven, playing cascading chord transitions that sound like an avalanche of bright, clean, tremolo-picked riffs that are rendered crystal-clear by the modern production. Kjeld and Wederganger feature instrumentation all positively enhanced by modern production values. Like a fresh smearing of blood on snow and ice, everything is conspicuous. Wederganger utilize some symphonics and slower tempos to their advantage.

Modern black metal isn’t exactly my first preference of black metal, but objectively, there’s no fault in trying out a style of music that a fan traditionally disfavors. I like my black metal darker, more ritualesque, with more riffs that stay with me for days. And while Kjeld’s bright, pagan/folk-influenced black metal registers with clear intent to portray black metal as purely that of musicianship and professionalism, the lack of dirge or melancholy on Kjeld’s half of the split inspires feelings of listlessness.

Perhaps the keyboard sections shimmer too brightly in the mix. Perhaps, the vocals sing about folklore far too much for my liking. Enslaved doesn’t actually play dark, morbid riffery, and although their music clearly boasts expensive studio equipment and technique, I enjoy their music immensely. So, without much awareness on what this split may sound like, I find that modern black metal still doesn’t sit well with me. But, it is up to fans to judge for themselves what styles they love the most.

Without so much as an evil sounding melody on tap on Kjeld’s side of the split, I deferred to Wederganger to lift my spirits after Kjeld’s material blew right past me. Fortunately, the slower tempos on Wederganger’s side allowed me to appreciate some old-fashioned guitar grit and mid-tempo banging on their songs, but there’s nary a riff that will stay with you on their half of the release either. Both bands appeal strongly to pagan/folk/modern black metal fans by singing about gnomes and trolls and plutonic Norwegian shores on this split, so it comes down to personal choice whether you would appreciate this split or not.

The split is far too clean for my liking however, and most of the riffs don’t echo in my mind for several nights in anticipation of listening to the record anew, and while I may feel as such, it doesn’t mean you have to, or that you would, so stream this split for whatever its worth. It’s worth a listen for casual modern black metal fans, and most certainly that for fans of the two bands especially. And while I’m open-minded enough to give other styles of music a listen in case of some revelatory experience doing so, black metal of the type writhing in the underground muck of civilization still endears itself to me much more than Kjeld’s and Wederganger’s do, so give these two bands a listen and don’t presume you feel the same way without so much as a sampling of the music here. You never really know what you like or don’t like before you do.

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