Review: Djevel – Tanker Som Rir Natten

Ten years ago, Djevel (Norwegian for “devil”) entered the black metal scene with their debut Dødssanger. Since then, they have been quite active, with various lineup changes and five other full length releases. The only original remaining band member is founder and guitarist Trond Ciekals, who is also responsible for songwriting. With the band since 2017 is Faust on drums, and since 2020 new vocalist and bass player Kvitrim. The bands seventh release is called Tanker Som Rir Natten (“Thoughts that ride the night”), a 57 minute long epic, chock-full of old school atmospheric black metal that will be released on May 14th via Aftermath Music.

Tanker Som Rir Natten consists of 5 songs with close to or over 10 minutes of length plus the title track which is an acoustic interlude. Length is absolutely no issue here, as the songs themselves have enough variety and dynamic within them. This is one of those records that is best enjoyed listening to from start to finish. The songwriting is dark and atmospheric, and while mostly raw in nature, is perfectly enhanced by acoustic elements and eerie chants.

The instruments play off each other well. My favourite indicator to see whether a band in the classic trio formation (guitar, drums, bass) works well together is to see if the bass player is relegated to plucking the base note of whatever the guitar is doing, or whether the instrument is audible and used to actually enhance the tonal and melodic range of the musicians. The latter is the case, especially in the more quiet parts.

While Faust does not reinvent the wheel when it comes to beats, he swaps between plenty of rhythms to keep things fresh throughout the lengthy songs, and throws plenty of killer fills left, right and center. The drumming feels very energetic and is an absolute joy to listen to.

The instruments are accompanied by an absolute stellar vocal performance from Kvitrim, who screams and yells his heart out, and transports the intended emotions without the need for the listener to understand a word of Norwegian, which is the language the lyrics are written in.

The cherry on top is the mixing and mastering by Ruben Willem. It is distinctly oldschool black metal at heart, with plenty of grit, yet the production is clear enough to allow appreciation of the musicians at work. The drums are punchy, sound big and make me want to crank the speakers beyond healthy levels, yet they are far from the overproduced sterility of many modern productions. Kudos.

So overall lots of praises here. Any downsides? None that I can think of. This is atmospheric and dark black metal the way it should be. Noisy, angry, a bit melancholic and eerie. Nothing fancy or pretentious, yet far from simple. A thunderstorm over an ancient forest. Hard recommendation.

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