DØDHEIMSGARD — Monumental Possession (review)

DØDHEIMSGARD — Monumental Possession album cover Album · 1996 · Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
DODHEIMSGARD jumped into the Norwegian black metal snake pit and became only one of many in the legions of Darkthrone imitators with their debut album “Kronet Til Konge,” which showed a group of angry misanthropic metalheads pulling off a really decent carbon copy version of albums like “A Blaze In The Northern Sky,” however quickly after they released their rather ho hum debut to the world, the band started to take itself a little more seriously and started upping their game by infusing more creativity into their second wave black metal shtick. While not quite reaching the out of the box approaches that would define them, on their second release MONUMENTAL POSSESSION some of the avant-garde explorations had already started to creep in but in the end this is a black metal album from start to finish.

While firmly steeped in the same black metal world as the debut, MONUMENTAL POSSESSION has a much more diverse palette of ideas this time around. Firstly there are more thrash leanings. While the trebly black metal tremolo picking is ubiquitous as are the blastbeats and buzzsaw guitar distortion, there are many periods of thrash riffing and even soloing. This is a stylistic fusion that would be abandoned in favor of heading down a more experimental industrial path but a blueprint for bands like Aura Noir to adopt in DODHEIMGARD’S stead. Initially released on the Malicious label before the band had become better known, this album had been rare and out of print prior to the 2016 reissue on Peaceville.

MONUMENTAL POSSESSION saw a lineup change, a feature common with many extreme metal bands. While Aldrahn and VIcotnik are back for a second round, Jonas Alver replaces Fenriz on bass and Apollyon joins the grew as second guitarist. Another aspect that makes this album much different than the previous is that Aldrahn, Apollyon and Vicotnik all share vocal duties with each having a distinct style that offers more variations in the vocal department than most black metal releases of the 90s. So in addition to the usual shrieked vocal style, Victonik offers his own bizarre croaked shouts not unlike the vocalist of Inquisition which offers a freakish sensibility to the mix.

The album is bookended by hellish sound collages that offer freaky ghoulish Satanic sounds accompanied by swirling dark ambient turbulence. It sets the tone for the album but the music is unapologetically brutal black metal with thrash elements sewn in for good measure. A huge step up from the debut and a clear link to the future is the fluid and frenetic percussive attack of Vicotnik who offers a much more varied array of drum abuse than the average second wave pummelation of skins. Avant-garde and jazzy, they point to some of the weirdness that would emerge on the most experimental albums like “666 International.” Overall, the music falls into the brutally melodic zone with distinct hooks that are augmented by the orotund bombast.

MONUMENTAL POSSESSION is a huge step up in terms of quality from “Kronet Til Konge” in every conceivable manner and while still firmly planted in the black metal universe is a surprisingly consistent and pleasant journey into the sickened Norwegian minds of these face painted miscreants. This is an album i actually enjoy and want to listen to. While this would be the band’s last true black metal album, it is one that displays their talents of pulling off more than a mere Darkthrone clone routine and finds the band coming of age just in time to jettison it for something else completely, a trait that would find DODHEIMSGARD drifting from album to album much like Ulver without ditching the metal sound altogether. Not as great as future releases but damn good for an orthodox 90s black metal release.
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