I will be the first to admit that raw black metal is the hardest genre to sound unique in. So many, read too fucking many, follow the same formula that has been in place since the early 90s. But maybe that’s the point, there can be no real original raw black metal because perfect albums have already been created and now we try and emulate and worship those albums. Or maybe I’m overly critical. That’s not really what I’m here to talk about. Odal (the Furthark rune for heritage) wrote an album this year that is pure, raw black metal that follows the standard raw black metal formula but there’s something else: they actually sound amazing and fresh! Imagine that! They put out “Geistes Unruh” and I could not be happier with it. It’s the album that I hope for every time I listen to a band claiming to be raw black metal. This was the time I was not disappointed (as a side note I am not condemning raw black metal at all, just the perceivable lack of originality). Here is a band that knows how to pay tribute to the titans of black metal from Norway and Finland yet firmly establishes their own sound and brand.
The guitars harmonize and produce melodies that are almost melodic but pull back from overly produced. The sound and production is minimal and raw, giving the music that great cold atmosphere we look for in raw black metal but instead of the guitar sounding nonsensical the riffs are clear and help guide the listener through the songs. The drums are fast, pounding, yet not overpowering or too quiet. While they aren’t overcomplicated, they are played solidly enough to provide a great foundation. The bass, when it’s audible, matches the guitars with the ability to weave melodies together without sounding nonsensical or amateurish. And the vocals. Damn! Vocals are supposed to stand alone yet tie all the music together, it’s the hardest part of any album to achieve (which is why vocalists are often blamed for the bad albums). The vocals are a blend of Sauron of Decapitated fame and Somberlain-era Dissection vocals. Neither of those comparisons are given lightly, both of those vocal styles are difficult to match in raw power and intensity but Geistes Unruh manages to give its listener vocals that are worthy of the music. They are harsh but thankfully they aren’t unintelligible. The lyrics are folk and mythology based which gives them bonus points. I like the lyrics to have some sort of thought not just “I hate you all” “Satan!” “Hall the antichrist” “I am kvlt” stuff that permeates many of the lyrics or lyrical themes of black metal. Good on them for bringing more originality.
Odal aren’t a huge band with lots of fans and press, they’re an underground band, that means most of their stuff is spread through word of mouth. That’s sort of why Resounding Footsteps exists though, to act a conduit for word of mouth. There are bands out there, like Odal, that I simply can’t help but recommend. These sorts of bands get overlooked and ignored too often. Give Geistes Unruh and I believe you will understand what I mean.
Listen and support!