Dødsengel – InterequinoxHow much stock do you place in authenticity? Do you opt for subtitles over the dub? Will you only reach for your wallet if a suit was hand stitched by a broom closet-dwelling tailor in Milan? And even if you can’t believe it’s not butter, do you push it aside for the original, anyway? When it comes to music, when one hears the word “Norway” invariably the next words that follow are “black metal” so it may be comforting to know that Dødsengel — with their own brand of svart metall — hails from the land of frost and cod. But black metal in 2017 is a far cry from black metal circa 1993 and in that time the genre has divided and subdivided so many times that the parent would scarcely recognize the child. Interequinox is the latest album from these veterans, but will it sate the appetites of rusted-on purists or is it best left for those who enjoy the road less traveled?

Regardless of your predilections, if there’s one area listeners of all persuasions can unite behind it’s being pampered. Dødsengel, a reclusive duo named Kark and Malach Adonai, are no strangers when it comes to offering their fans value for money. Their third record, Inperator was a double-album clocking in an eye-watering 150 minutes. With Interequinox hitting the scales at around 57 minutes, the pair has trimmed things back to middleweight territory, but everything within it is burnished to a sumptuous gleam. Whether it’s the enigmatic cover art, the beautiful and ornate lyric booklet or the rare but welcome dynamic range that gives the instruments ample room to stretch their limbs, Dødsengel have fallen over themselves to give listeners the full package. Not something black metal is well known for.

What the genre is known for is unrelenting misanthropy, and while Interequinox has its moments of withering invectives the musical language uttered here is twisted, focused more on creating an unsettling atmosphere than grinding you into a fine paste. Take opener “Pangenetor,” a muted track that smolders with agony, flittering between expulsions of intensity and navel-gazing rumination. “Værens Korsvei” leans towards familiarity, producing dollops of blast beats and wiry guitar work of the sort offered by Taake and Darkthrone. Solid, if not brazenly imaginative. Things take a turn for the abstract with “Opaque,” a stomach-churning track that uses the rusty primary riff and off-key, twanging notes to foster a current of madness that beckons the arrival of some unseen eldritch horror. Many of the twists and turns in Interequinox are subtle, the tone ratcheting incrementally so that by the time you’ve noticed the malaise it’s already burrowed into your psyche like a tick.

“Palindrome” is a genuine surprise, opening with a roiling, serpentine solo doused in Southern spices, only to lurch into an occult delirium that exhales a suffocating atmosphere of impending woe. When Kark wails “The labyrinth of stagnation exists only in the mind of the palindrome,” goosebumps erupt across my body as I picture his gibbering face wracked by rapturous insanity. Contrary to its title, the only mark against this track is that it doesn’t end exactly as it started. There are, however, other blights to be found on Interequinox, as the album has a frustrating habit of dolling out anodyne passages after birthing moments of scabrous delight. Flashes of color and weirdness such as the female vocals and goth Brit-rock found in “Rubedo,” or the haunting, early-Arcturus chanting in “Gloria In Excelsis Deo” are given a starker spotlight by virtue of other areas on the record being content to sit on its hands.

These slights are not potent enough to crater the total experience, as Dødsengel have poured their darkened hearts into producing an album that works as a functional whole. Interequinox appealed to me intellectually and conceptually, but it lacked the killer riff or euphoric moment that stokes the fires of obsession. Perhaps the pair’s reluctance to fully commit to either pulverizing annihilation or eyebrow-raising experimentation is what kept me from gulping down the Kool-aid. I suspect it’s the latter, for where I see Dødsengel rising above their peers is if they divest themselves from any lingering normalcy and pull the rip-cord on weird. For now, this platter of measured lunacy offers a worthwhile peek into the darkness.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Websites: facebook.com/Dødsengel | bandcamp.com/album/interequinox
Releases Worldwide: May 19th, 2017

Share →
  • Paul VH

    First

    • Congratulations. Come by the office to pick up your medal.

      • Paul VH

        Medal of metal?

    • a

      Who gives a shit?

      • Paul VH

        I do.
        Lots of shit.
        I’m first and you can never take that away from me.

      • Paul VH

        Lots of angry metal guys tonight…..

  • I’ve come to talk about “the rare but welcome dynamic range that gives the instruments ample room to stretch their limbs”, and I hope someone who fully understands DR comes along to once again explain this mysterious abbreviation.

    The word dynamic would suggest that something actually use that space to stretch it’s limbs (nice metaphor, by the way) and perhaps move about in a vital manner. If the volume, however, is constantly low, than sure… there’s no loudness war, no brickwall and no clipping. But is it dynamic if it’s hushed and flat?

    Interequinox is DR11 on average, albeit most songs are actually even DR12, and no, the sound is not “flat” as such, but the album don’t take advantage of its lofty range. There’s a lot of stagnant air surrounding the sound.

    Is this simply a weakness in measuring dynamic range, or am I misunderstand the concept somewhat. “Yes, we have a great rang, we just don’t use it for anything reasonable”, sounds a bit like “We got the biggest store in town. We sell popcorn. In bags of two sizes. That’s it.”

    • tomasjacobi

      I do think you misunderstand the concept of dynamic range. It’s not something that can be used or wasted. It’s what you end up with after recording and mixing. Different instruments are naturally louder than others, for instance drums, so if you look at a waveform of a final mix, most likely the drums will be responsible for the peaks in the waveform.

      This limits how loud you can make the recording sound because if you raise the volume too much when mastering, the peaks will reach 0dBFS and cause audible clipping. So you can’t go louder and that is viewed as a problem, since the “loudness war” dictates that if you’re not “competitively loud”, no one will want to listen or buy your music. Because GOD FORBID that the listeners should have to turn up the volume themselves.

      The solution to this perceived problem is to use dynamic range compression and limiting to push the loudest peaks down and “pull up” the more quiet elements so you end up with a tube-formed waveform without peaks and valleys. Now you can push the overall volume to within an inch of clipping and go out and win the “loudness war”. Everybody is happy except those who think there’s more to sound quality than constant loudness.

      It’s not always bad to use some limiting when mastering and make the final result a little louder, but there comes a point, usually when you go below DR6, when you start to sacrifice fidelity for loudness and you end up with a flat sounding, loud mess.
      When you say that more dynamic recordings sound “flat” what you probably mean is that they are not as loud as other recordings. Try turning the volume up and notice how the sound opens up. Very loud, compressed music works the opposite way and will often sound worse the more you turn up the volume.
      It’s important to “level match” when comparing music, since your ears naturally hear more details the louder the sound is, so to compare a very loud mastering to a more dynamic one you need to turn the more quietly mastered song up so you are sure that you’re not getting fooled by the loudness.
      Sorry about this waaay too long post; I guess I needed to rant about something :-)

      • What I mean by “flat” in this case, is that the waveform looks somewhat (albeit not entirely) “tube-formed” with air around it, as if in vacuum.

        I’ve added a picture of the waveform of the song “Illusions” (DR12), along with waveform for the first half of the song “Plagues Of Babylon” (DR8) by Iced Earth. The latter is louder – and as you can see by the read lines, there’s some clipping there – but the “range” is better exploited, creating a more “dynamic volume effect”.

        http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/313590177be971e40fa847623d1243d818eec55becf26e13ad58564c474f2bdc.png

        The Hebrew God forbids a lot of things. Thanks for a proper explanation. Sometimes many words are needed in order to make things right without leaving questions or misunderstandings.

        • tomasjacobi

          You’re right. Those 2 examples look like they’ve had about the same level of limiting/compression applied, but the Dødsengel track has more headroom :-)
          So I guess I didn’t catch your point the first time, because I agree that if you’ve already applied the limiting, you might as well push the volume a little more, since all that headroom doesn’t in itself make the recording more dynamic.
          On an side note, Jon Schaffer from IE has been very vocal about his disdain for the loudness war and as I understand it, he tries to go as dynamic as he can without pissing off his record label.

      • lennymccall

        This has been helpful for me thanks!

      • mtlman1990

        No such thing as volume in sound engineering.

        • tomasjacobi

          I beg to differ. I’m sure there are many volumes written about sound engineering.

          • mtlman1990

            I see what you did there ;)

  • rumour_control

    Subtitles, mang.

  • AndySynn

    Big, BIG fans of these guys. In fact, my review was meant to be published today (as part of a triptych with the new Acherontas and Hetroertzen albums) but, due to a rather glaring miscommunication in the NCS offices, Islander ran a premiere/stream of the album already… so, not sure when that’s coming out!

    Anyway, back on topic, love these guys on record, and loved them live too.

  • Drew Music

    My local music store has this slated for June 2nd instead of today, and that’s about the only problem I have with this album.

  • Rob

    That slide guitar bit sounds just like Red Sparrowes. I like the music with this a lot, but the lyrics are pretty goofy.