REVIEW: Ved Buens Ende - Written in Waters (1995, Misanthropy) @ 02:54 pm
In the mid to late 90s there was a popular infliction in Norway of
calling anything that somehow doesn't fit in the mold of a specific
genre, an avantgarde. Such a classification has some merits, however
the Norwegians within a certain scene got to use the term avantgarde
extremely liberally. The singer cannot hit a note? That's avantgarde.
The drummer cannot keep time? That's avantgarde. The band knows nothing
about song structure and composition? That's avantgarde.
Those who followed the development of the Scandinavian black metal in
the 90s readily remembers many musical miscarriages stemming from throwing
a wrench at the known notions of music, or whatever might be construed as
such by those involved.
The album in question released in 1995 (before anything of this sad
nature in my memory) perhaps receives the credit for starting the
trend. Those versed in the black metal lore may recall that throughout
the history of the genre, a (pseudo)intellectualism was one of the key
ingredients of the ideology and pose. At some point somebody decided
to crank the knob of the latter to the far right, make a bunch of
references to the cultural legacy of grown-ups and see if the audience
swallows what comes out of it. Judging from the rating in Metal Archives,
the trick worked.
On "Written in Waters", the only full-length album of thankfully short-
lived project, members of Manes and Dodheimsgard do exactly that.
Technically speaking, this is rooted in black metal with everything
one expects to see in it by 1995. Avantgarde leanings or not, this was
a wise move as the BM scene in that year was hot. The BM base is liberally
strewn with snippets of non-black-metal music, primarily leftovers from
70s, mostly post-Crimson prog rock. Occasionally, jazz parts kick in.
And all of this lavishly sprinkled with vocal exercises courtesy
of Carl-Michael Eide, which is the worst part of the deal.
I've seen many lousy attempts at vocalization in my time, and must admit
that this is a prize-winning one. The definition of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
"is there a cat or something stuck in a chimney" describes the aural
experience pretty accurately. Let's face it: Carl-Michael plainly cannot
sing, in any possible definition of the term. Varg can, Vidar can,
Calt-Michael cannot. Based on this outing I'd place him at the second
rank of bad singers, second only to Keiji Haino, and that's a big
achievement of sorts.
While awful singing being the worst offense committed by the crew it is
certainly not the only one. The music is devoid of any dynamics or inner
logic whatsoever. Both metal and non-metal parts follow one another for
no apparent reason. Each part taken separately is executed and recorded
competently, but are mostly un-engaging and tedious on their own, and
completely lose their appeal and purpose when thrown n a seemingly random
sequence. Chaotic songwrighting can be executed tastefully and to a great
deal of dramatic effect, however this is certainly not the case. By the
time the album reaches its half it becomes damn annoying. For those who
has patience of sitting though an almost an hour long ordeal there is a
short reward of a free jazz piece towards the end of the "Remembrance of
Things Past". Apart from that none of the compositional components are
particularly worth attention as to that date there were lots of better
examples in any field touched by this record. The only question worth
pondering is how this pile of crap ended up being praised as an avantgarde
You will do yourself a favor by avoiding this album. Those brave souls
who have an hour of their life to waste can form their own opinion here.