Ereb Altor_NattramnEreb Altor, the other project by the men behind Isole, are back to wage the next phase of the battle for my favoritism. I enjoy both acts and it seems with each new release my loyalty shifts, with Isole‘s recent The Calm Hunter  putting me back in their camp, at least temporarily. Where Isole goes for a classic doom style, Ereb Altor strives for an epic Viking doom sound heavily blended with black metal. They’ve produced some big moments and when they hit their stride, they walk with the frost giants of old like Hammerheart era Bathory. Nattramn offers the usual product, but this time the results are a little more inconsistent than usual, with great tunes alongside lesser ones. It’s far from a bad release, but it doesn’t have the continuity fans have become accustomed to.

Things definitely kick off with gusto after a short intro, with “Midsommarblot” standing as one of the best Ereb Altor songs ever. It’s exactly the kind of epic, larger-than-life ode to all things cold and Nordic that you’d expect, but the sheer power, beauty and bombast of it all impresses anew. There’s a ton of emotion in the clean vocals and Viking-like chanting and the whole piece drips with grandiose mood, grim melancholy and icy strength. This one immediately moved into the frontrunner position for Song of the Year in the Book of Steel.

Sadly, sometimes a masterstroke can become an albatross, and because of the general awesomeness of “Midsommarblot,” the remainder of Nattramn struggles to meet the listener’s resultant high expectations. The title track starts off airy and dark like old Tiamat before settling into a mid-tempo black metal pummel. It’s more than adequate with interesting moments like the rousing, raise-the-swords segment at 3:00, but overall it feels flat following such a monumental opener. The band course corrects on “Dance of the Elves” which is another stellar cut, this time marrying heroic singing with blackened croaks and employing a doom sound loaded with grandeur and polish approaching that of While Heaven Wept and Solitude Aeturnus. The singing here is particularly effective and gripping and the song leaves quite a mark.

Ereb altor_2015

Things continue well enough from there with the haunting, Bathory-esque roil of “Dark Waters” and especially the weighty doom of “Across the Giant’s Blood,” but again, nothing comes close to the majesty of the album’s early moments. Things bog down a bit during lengthy closer “The Nemesis of Frei” and though the band leaps between chant-heavy doom, blazing black metal and folk metal, the song struggles to hold interest at times.

As always, the focal point is the vocal work, and Mats and Ragnar excel at both the forlorn doom singing and the demonic rasping. The singing in particular grabs at the listener and there’s no shortage of feeling and emotion here. The abundance of textbook ohhhhh-ohhhhh chanting is also effective and conjures images of towering, snow-covered summits and vast frozen environs. The guitar-work (also by Mats and Ragnar) continues to mesh Viking era Bathory with traditional doom and black metal ideas and as usual, it works more often than not. The song writing gets weak at times, but the core Ereb Altor sound is never an issue.

At 42 minutes, Nattramn is a concise listen, and though some songs could lose a minute here and there, self-editing isn’t a huge issue and the album has a sneaky way of growing with repeat spins. The production is a bit muddy at times, but if you go back and listen to Hammerheart, you’ll see they are just keeping true to their influences as good Vikings should.

Not a disappointment by any stretch, but despite a few of their best songs, Nattramn is a come down from recent works like Gastrike and Fire Meets Ice. I Guess I’ll be making myself comfortable in Camp Isole for the time being and extending my cable subscription. Next time guys, next time.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps MP3
Label: Cyclone Empire
Websites: erebaltor.com | facebook.com/ErebAltorOfficial
Release Dates: Out Worldwide 04.24.2015

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  • kaeru92

    That embedded video sounds great… First time I hear of those dudes, I should check them out.

    • You definitely should, especially their early stuff like By Honour and The End.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    “… because of the general awesomeness of “Midsommarblot,” the remainder of Nattramn struggles to meet the listener’s resultant high expectations”:

    If you replace “Midsommarblot” and “Nattramn” with “Icarus and I” and “Suspended at Aphelion”, respectively, that’s pretty much how I feel about While Heaven Wept’s latest. I like the WHW album, but nothing compares to the transcendent heights reached in that second song (or first if you discount the acoustic intro).

    I mention this because I hope it doesn’t become a pattern in the metal world (“Suspended at Aphelion” syndrome?). Luckily, I can think of many albums that start with a huge bang and then continue to deliver throughout the album (In Vain’s “Ænigma”, Elvenking’s “Pagan Manifesto”, Tyr’s “Valkyrja”, etc.), so likely my fear is misplaced.

  • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

    Shame to hear this one might not be up par – I loved the last one. Oh well, still gonna buy it probably.

  • Feytalist

    I can’t choose between Ereb Altor and Isole. Luckily, I don’t have to.

    This is great. I get that it’s a bit inconsistent, but frankly if it’s anything like the previous albums, it’s good enough for me.

    • hardysponge

      I’ve recently worked myself through the Isole discography (after the last AMG review) and what a great band they are! Kept Ereb Altor for later but the references (Viking, Hammerfall era Bathory) sound promising!

  • Matthew

    Just out of interest AMG, do bands really send you 192kbps files rather than 320 or V0? Surely they realise that this affects the quality of the music and experience and is more likely (in general) to get them a lower score?

    • Yep, many promos we receive are 192 or 256.

  • Martin Knap

    subliminal sphere allert.

  • James Ingold

    I’ve just got around to listening to this and, whilst I think all your criticisms are perfectly valid, this may be one of my favourite Ereb Altor albums. While they’ve swung further one way or the other over time, I find Nattramn hits the sweet spot in the mix of viking and black metal for my tastes.

  • Wasn’t convinced by the embedded track but was intrigued by Isole, and have since bought “Bliss of Solitude” and will probably be getting “The Silent Ruins” next.

    Well done for making me spend more damn money on bands I’d never heard of before. :P