Molested – Blod-Draum (1995)
Once upon a time, there was a band named Borknagar that became quite popular around the turn of the century. Because of this, enterprising internet users found their attention disproportionately placed on this band, as it shares a founder. Molested is quite different; while they’re a rare example of a Norwegian death metal band during the big wave of black metal hysteria, they also have a “melodic” approach to the style that doesn’t evenly match up with the early Swedish/Gothenburg shtick. They’ve also got some tangential folk music elements, but they’re minimal at best and could theoretically be torn from the band with minimal scarring.
It’s an oversimplification to call Blod-Draum “odd”, but there really isn’t much out there that hits all the notes this one is going for. The first hint that you’ve got something interesting on your hands is the thick but treble heavy production. It takes some getting used to, although it’s reasonably intelligible for an extreme metal recording released in 1995. One thing you’ll note after a while is that it makes the songwriting sound denser than it is; Blod-Draum focuses more on monophony and horizontal complexity (i.e the order in which riffs are arranged) than stacking musical elements on top of each other. Vocals and lyrics are an exception – the vocalist performs very deep, almost slurped growls that are buried into the mix. Following the growls is difficult enough; understanding the lyrics is pretty much impossible without access to the printed lyrics.
The overall effect of all Molested’s chosen songwriting tropes makes for music that is in some ways quite intricate, but very basic in others. One thing I noticed is that there’s a great deal of key signature modulation inside the riffs; that’s arguably the source of the local melodies. The guitars also rely heavily on tremolo picking for texture, making for a blurrier sounding album than otherwise but also occasionally bringing to mind the contemporary black metal that this material tries to avoid. The more I listen to this album, the more I wonder exactly how many fingers it’s dipping in the black metal camp; a lot of what diverts it from comes from the rhythm section. The sheer quantity of tempo changes, in fact, reminds me particularly of Darkthrone’s second album, which similarly has some elements of both black/death, even though the ratios are arguably reversed. If there’s a historical lesson to be taken from this, it’s that the barrier between extreme metal styles was especially thin in mid-90s Scandinavia, despite the efforts of the trvekvlt types to differentiate themselves.
In retrospect, a lot of Blod-Draum’s novelty comes from the awkward bits, but that, alongside its strong sense of melody, gives it its unique charm.
Highlights: “Along the Misty Morass”, “Following the Growls”, “Forlorn as a Mist of Grief”