Released: 2004, Napalm Records
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
Before I progress, let’s come to one critical realization: Vintersorg, at least the Viking/folk band that we knew before, is dead. In its place has folky/spacey/avant-garde/pseudoprog Vintersorg. Some of you may recall that I was rather harsh with Vintersog when the band decided to leave the folk realm behind on their 2002 album, VISIONS FROM THE SPRIAL GENERATOR. While the album finally did grow on me somewhat, it’s sub-par quality reflected the state of transition that the band experienced.
Now, reenergized and refocused, THE FOCUSING BLUR realizes the musical and experimental concepts that were just falling into place on VftSG. The gratuitous synth intro “Prologue Dialogue” flows along almost like a piece from a video game soundtrack before moving into “The Essence.” At first, I thought this was another intro piece with an excellent folky acoustic guitar introduction until the real song kicks in. Alternating the growled vocals and raw blasting drums with quirky synth-tinged interludes and clean vocals, followed again by clean acoustic breaks, this song seems to reconcile the differences between the folky and “traditional” Vintersorg works on COSMIC GENESIS with the experimental side shown on VftSG. Even with all the odd time changes, “The Essence” already shows that Vintersorg’s songwriting has developed into a more focused and coherent output.
“TheThesises Sessions” is another song with crazy timing that, in an odd fashion, reminds me in some areas of a Spiral Architect tune, although slower and not quite as technical. To me, the main body of the song seems to drag through some areas, but features a chorus that is excellent both in the combined growl/clean vocals and guitar riffage. “Matrix Odyssey” gets off to a rough start with some shitty sampled intro then gets even more bizarre with some funky keyboard experimentation, but it has a full, rich sound. I’m digging the variety on this track quite a bit…the little change at around 2:48 is one of those little “what the fuck?” moments on the album that just make each song cool.
What does the rest of the album have in store for us? A lot of the same type of quirky, progressive experimentation, albeit in a much more refined and coherent form. “A Sphere in a Sphere” picks up some interesting guitar solos throughout the song. “Dark Matter Mystery” has the typical Vintersorg feel of old to it and in all is a very catchy, though somewhat slower piece. “Curtains”? Well, all I have to say about this song is “what the fuck”? This song is so strange that I love it! The middle part of the song and the piano pieces are just so freakin’ weird that they have to be heard to be believed.
The last Vintersorg album was painful to hear and to review, but was a necessary transitional piece to separate the old Viking/Folk Vintersorg from the new experimental direction the band has taken. THE FOCUSING BLUR is a strong album with no weak songs at all that keeps getting more enjoyable with each listens. Certainly, fans of the progressive/avant garde style will eat this up, but I think that if VISIONS alienated some Vintersorg fans, then THE FOCUSING BLUR is strong enough to bring them back into the Vintersorg camp.