Dødheimsgard – Monumental Possession (1996)
Dødheimsgard got a lot of notoriety for experimenting with the black metal formula, but Monumental Possession predates that. This is a fairly clean and basic extreme thrash metal album, with obvious black metal references that bring bands like Absu to mind. The thing about this sort of thing is that it usually sounds more like a souped up version of formative ’80s underground metal recordings than, for instance, the melodic/symphonic material of Emperor. In fact, a member of Emperor briefly played with Dødheimsgard, but let’s not dwell on that too much.
On Monumental Possession, Dødheimsgard is a TRIPLE VOCALIST BAND. However, each track only showcases the vocal talents of one member; their vox are similar in overall approach but not quite enough to blend together. This still helps to distinguish the songs, since there’s no real correlation between which vocalist is performing and the overall structure of the music. I can’t say why they chose to break up their duties this way – perhaps they all wanted to “sing”, perhaps the shouting and screaming hurt their throats. Either way, it seems to work out decently for the band, although I tend to prefer the more deranged vocals of one Aldrahn; he cries out for three tracks and then is suddenly silenced. Victonik also draws my attention occasionally for multitracking himself to similar effect.
The music here tends to favor pure intensity over creativity, with very basic guitar riffs mated to intense drumming and a surprisingly good and clear production. Not a lot of effort went into polishing this, so there are occasional periods where things fall out of sync or become difficult to comprehend, like the noisy intro. Occasionally this weirdness gets used to better effect, though – take for instance, “Lost in Faces” with its unusual main riff. There’s a lot of these odd asides throughout the album, which must’ve drawn at least some attention. Celtic Frost actually compares in their evolution – this arguably matches up with To Mega Therion, although that album used a more consistent set of garnishes to ornament its similarly blackened, yet thrashy content. Both bands went on to create much stranger albums with varying levels of popular support, for better or worse.
The last few times I talked about “primitive” metal, I mentioned that my interest in such waxes and wanes over time. On the other hand, it took a few albums in this style to truely open me up to the possibilities this sort of playstyle had. I don’t remember whether Dødheimsgard was one of those gateways, or if they were a band I explored because I’d previously been given such a gateway, but either way, it adds up to something that’s at least sometimes worth listening to.,
Highlights: “The Crystal Specter”, “Fluency”, “Angel Death”