Released: 2004, White Legends
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
While Scandinavia is traditionally looked at as the hotbed of black metal, a transplanted Norwegian has brought that genre to Canadian shores onboard a Viking Longboat. Bloodaxe, hailing from Thunder Bay, Ontario, is a one-man entity of sorts. Nordavinden Lien, who plays everything (with the exception of drums), writes everything and produces it all in his own studio, digs into the recesses of early black metal for inspiration on RAPING THE ANCIENT. Shades of Dark Funeral, early Emperor, Immortal and even some early Bathory are evident but instead of relying solely on blasphemous rantings (which are indeed present), Norse mythology, Scandinavian folklore and Viking history are also touched upon. RAPING THE ANCIENT was originally recorded in February 2002 but numerous setbacks kept it from being released until November 2004. Production is in the “troo kvlt” style meaning the drums are very hollow and tinny and the bass is almost non-existent, but Lien’s vocals are not buried as far back in the mix as one would expect. In fact, his lyrics are easily understood for the most part making RAPING THE ANCIENT a tolerable listen in that regard. Still, this is pure blasphemous black/Viking metal and those looking for symphonic passages a la Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir should look elsewhere.
A mysterious fiddle opens the CD with “Midvinterblod” but things kick into high gear with “Haunting The Runes,” a searing slice of ice cold, blastbeat-filled hell. The simple riff in this track is infectious and Lien’s snarled vocal delivery fits the music perfectly. His shrill cry of “raping the ancient ones” is bone-chilling. “Superior Winds” carries on in much the same fashion as “Haunting The Runes” with a similar melody but the story the songs tell is quite fascinating and that same trend flourishes throughout the CD. The black metal kvlt will eat up “The Burning Season” with its hyperblasting and blasphemous lyrics (“Pour out the gas/I’ll light the fucking match/Burn your lies/Down to the hallowed ground’). “Loki’s Fury” is all crushing blastbeats and buzzsaw riffing that leads to “Drifting of Ull,” a haunting epic track that could well be the very signature of Bloodaxe. The unforgettable riff echoes around a pounding drum and Viking-inspired lyrics that epitomize the best elements of this often one-note genre. Lien’s howling roar kicks off “Thirteen Oars of Misfortune” in old-school Immortal style. Another catchy riff pummels the listener through a conquering quest of Christian lands that carries an amazing ambience with it compounded by Lien’s monotone spoken word passages.
Cold, dark, vicious music and tin-can production are the essential elements of a black metal album and RAPING THE ANCIENT has all of those. What separates this CD from the corpse-painted masses, though, is the blending of traditional black metal archetypes with subject matter that is there for more than shock value. Burning churches and ghoulish figures lost their impact in the metal world around 1996, so Bloodaxe’s decision to branch out and incorporate its heritage is a welcome addition to what made albums like IN THE NIGHTSIDE ECLIPSE, HAMMERHEART and BATTLES IN THE NORTH so powerful.
KILLER KUTS: “Haunting The Runes,” “Superior Winds,” “Loki’s Fury,” “Drifting of Ull,” “Thirteen Oars of Misfortune”