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In the case of dark ambient, subtlety is fundamental, detail vital, and every aspect from the micro to the macro is painstakingly pored over in the express desire to perfect the manifestation of the deep and the dark. Nordvargr’s 2002 album ‘Awaken’ has been remixed, remastered and re-titled as (the not-so-imaginatively) ‘Re-Awaken’ and just over twenty minutes of previously unheard material has been added. Like director’s cuts, remixes and remasters usually imply some level of dissatisfaction with the original and raise many a question as to the reasoning behind them. Here, it’s because it’s been long sold-out (the original pressing was limited to 666 copies) and the artist has rediscovered material that he feels would enhance the work of the original. And so, again, we are invited to delve into the darkest reaches of Henrik Björkk’s twisted imagination. At the entrance to the cavernous cellars is ‘Awaken’, the indistinguishable yet compelling sounds that open the piece are ominous, a looming sense of dread emerging from the emptiness, and slow and lumbering, out of the darkness spring psycho slices and reverberating and distant industrial hums. ‘Cellardweller’s surge of deformed guitar noise dissolves into the cold atmosphere that continues into ‘Kretslopp’, the sound of stone being hacked away at in the distance behind the celestial choral moods that breath all around. The four-act ‘Seals of Blood’ – the most daunting and unnerving piece here – has a heavy martial sound, the armies of darkness marching inexorably through the aftermath. The two new additions – ‘Exit Daemonas’ and ‘Dreamstates’ – are equally chilling and what Nordvargr does with the ominous tones, the long and empty echoes, and a host of aberrant sounds is terrifying. This is chilling stuff indeed, the soundtrack to a horror movie that no one dare make. A proponent of the “less is more” school and utilising nightmarish sounds to evoke nightmarish visions, ‘Re-Awaken’ is, in every sense of the word, a stunning piece. A paralyzing darkness fills the room when this album is played. Nordvargr’s decision to revamp this album should bring it to the attention of those that would otherwise have missed out on an experience that is reassuringly sinister. Stimulating, dismally meditative and fearsome, this is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Turn the lights off and see how long you can last.
Review by Jason Guest
13th June 2011
1) Awaken
2) Cellardweller
3) Kretslopp
4) Lament II
5) Exit Deamonas
6) Natt
7) Hascimh
8) Sulphur Mist
9) Seeds of Blood (Acts 1-2)
10) Seeds of Blood (Acts 3-4)
11) Dreamstates
"...the soundtrack to a horror movie that no one dare make."