Devils that ride the night

DJEVEL: Tanker Som Rir Natten

Release year: 2021
Label: Aftermath Music

A mere year after the rather brilliant Ormer Til Armer, Maane Til Hode, Norwegian Djevel are back again with their newest, in total seventh album. Formed in 2009, that means the band have been keeping themselves busy.

Featuring a new face on vocals and bass, Kvitrim (who’s in the live line-up of Whoredom Rife and served time in a long list of other groups), Tanker Som Rir Natten is both familiar and new in sound. Ther first thing that strikes the listener is the length of the tracks: even the shortest tracks are over nine and a half minutes long, excluding one instrumental. This is a marked change from previous albums, where the tracks usually fell in the more typical five-minutes-give-or-take range.

The basic essence of Djevel’s sound remains unchanged: Norwegian black metal of a rather classic ilk. Norsecore, if you will. This is clearly a continuation of the illustrious tradition of Norwegian black metal, harkening back to the genre-defining sound of the early nineties. So far so good; as the previous album proved, Djevel are able to do a more than competent take on that sound.

However, as perhaps can be surmised from the grown track-lengths, the compositions have become more ambitious. Whilst taking their cues from Djevel’s already established sound, the group take more time to evolve their ideas and create songs that are more complex whilst still not veering into progressive or avantgarde territory. One side effect of this is a more nuanced approach to atmosphere and emotions explored in the music; another is an overall atmosphere that is calmer, more contemplative and even introverted than before. The album is not just raging, blasting and buzzsawing, but also takes its time to build atmosphere and dynamics within the tracks.

Combining the typically dry Norwegian sound with acoustic interludes, tastefully used clean vocals and chorals, and sparse use of atmospheric synths, the end result lands somewhere in the realm of early Satyricon and Ulver; not perhaps always so much in terms of compositions, but overall atmosphere. There’s that same sense of wintry, Norwegian barren coldness. Of course, there’s a whole throng of other Norwegian acts of the 90’s you could namedrop that evoked the same imagery, but you get my idea. Cold, winter, mountains, dark, Norway.

The grown track-lengths are something of a double-edged sword. Most of the time they work, and the compositions don’t overstay their welcome. Djevel are capable of introducing enough of variation and new elements to the in itself rather straightforward norsecore during the span of the tracks to keep them interesting. At least most of the time. However, on occasion one does wish they’d just get on with it and write five minute tracks like they used to.

Ormer Til Armer, Maane Til Hode was a jaw-dropper for me. Up until then, Djevel had been one of those sort of, kind of interesting bands but not one that had managed to capture my full attention. That one sure did. In comparison to its predecessor, Tanker Som Rir Natten pales. Slightly only, perhaps, but pale it does. In its own right, however, it is a perfectly capable example of latter day Norwegian black metal; one must admit that the once so mighty flag of Norway has sagged somewhat in recent decades, but Djevel help keep it flying.

As such: Tanker Som Riir Natten is a good album. But the one before it was better.


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