ANCIENT WISDOM — For Snow Covered the Northland (review)

ANCIENT WISDOM — For Snow Covered the Northland album cover Album · 1996 · Atmospheric Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Obscure, Forgotten and Otherwise Hard to Find Metal Albums #4

For Snow Covered the Northland (1996) is the debut full-length album by Swedish black metal act Ancient Wisdom. While Ancient Wisdom went on after this point to be the one-man act of frontman Marcus E. Norman (also known as Vargher), during this early period Ancient Wisdom was a full band. The album was recorded in 1994.

Here Ancient Wisdom plays a style of atmospheric black metal that uses keyboards for its atmospheric effects, which sometimes manifest as being folksy such as during In the Land of the Crimson Moon, while still leaving a lot of room for a more direct approach to songwriting with the guitars themselves often coming closer to melodic black metal standards, as is the case with a track such as Through Rivers of the Eternal Blackness. There are also some doom metal inspired passages to the album, though the pace of the whole thing is generally quite subdued, intending for the listener to absorb everything that's going on rather than setting out to kick arses with blistering riffs or trying to sound as evil as possible. Non-metal elements such as acoustic guitars and piano tend to appear in the form of transition tracks, as well as the intro piece A Hymn to the Northern Empire, which combines piano with Marcus E. Norman's growls to form a very dark setting the stage kind of piece.

The end result is an effective soundtrack for the sort of wintery landscape portrayed by the album's cover artwork. While there are some aspects that I would have liked to hear Ancient Wisdom exploring more, notably eerie quasi folk melodies like that heard towards the end of In the Land of the Crimson Moon (which makes it the best track to my ears), which do appear again during final track The Sleep Within (in truth a bonus track from an earlier demo) For Snow Covered the Northland is generally speaking a well crafted and strong debut album that I'd say is well worth owning...if you're lucky enough to find it. I'm sure that the review heading above was taken note of, this is part of my review series, which means that this isn't an easy album to find. It'll be 20 years old this year (2016) and from what I can tell from my research online it hasn't seen any official reissue since, while Ancient Wisdom as whole hasn't released anything since 2004, though Marcus E. Norman is still active with other groups such as Eudaimony and Naglfar. I have seen used copies come up in the usual places but prices tend to be towards a higher mark than a second hand CD album should rightly command. Fortunately unlike the first three entries I wrote about for this review series For Snow Covered the Northland can be found on Spotify, which hopefully means there is more of a chance that one day an actual physical reissue will be on the market.
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666sharon666 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I actually do have this one, as well as the second album The Calling. I managed to get a used copy off an Amazon seller some years ago now. Paid a little more than I normally would for a used album (though not a stupidly high price) but it was in good condition when it turned up so I haven't regretted it.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
It may also be the hardest to find though considering how many years I've been looking.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Yeah I think this is the most rated album (using RYM ratings as they have more) in the series so far.
more than 2 years ago
This is the only band in your review series so far I've actually heard of, though I haven't heard the album itself. I'll change that seeing as it is on Spotify.


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