Kampfar - Djevelmakt 1With a career spanning a near lifetime (20-years to be exact), Kampfar refuse to sit squarely in any one particular niche. They shamelessly delivered their self-titled EP, Mellom Skogkledde Aaser and Fra Underverdenen as part of their first creative wave, hitting you up with old school black metal with the typical raw traditionalism you’ve come to expect of a two-man Norwegian act. When that didn’t translate into a particularly nifty live performance, more members were added and the band forged ahead with their second creative wave delivering Kvass and Heimgang, which I’ve not heard.

Mare, with its journey into the world of witches of the past and present, kicked off their third creative wave paving the way forward for today’s concept that digs in the gunk of the underworld where and I quote “rats feed on the blackest souls and false choirs have no power.” Mare showcased a refocussed, modernised Kampfar with a dynamic vibrancy that’s wholly created for live performance. three years on the heels of Mare, Kampfar are back with Djevelmakt, an album adorned by Polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński and robed in the claim that it makes a leap forward in their steadfast path – will them be fightin words?

Djevelmakt kicks off with “Mylder,” which has an almost hall of mirrors trickery about it, just when you think you know where it’s going it does a little about turn on you. The track starts off with sobering intro delivered by a grim set of keys and just as you’re settling into the starkness, you’re bombarded with the kind of black metal sound that could be a merging of Taake and Vreid – accessible and melodic, yet with hints of the raw and raspy side of Norway. Around the mid-point of the track a charmingly light and mesmerizing Windir-sounding flute solo carries you away with its breathiness before the effect is stolen and you’re knee-deep back in the black guided only by Dolk and Ask Ty’s mix of blackened ghostly rasps and invigorating cleans that contrast each other pretty damn well.

Kampfar_- Djevelmakt 2Moving on from “Mylder,” “Kujon” and “Blod Eder og Galle” don’t bring anything particularly new to this supposed grim little gun fight and for the most part they feel bloated and corpse-like and just end up stinking up the joint. My waning attention only kicked back in around the mid-point of the album with “Swarm Norvegicus,” “Fortapelse” and “De Dødes Fane.” “Swarm Norvegicus” delivering a palatable taster reminiscent of bygone Triptykon days, “Fortapelse” showing off Ole’s skill at masterfully working the keys and guitar riffs to add an enticing touch of accessible melodic tragedy and “De Dødes Fane” taking a stab at combining the folky unexpectedness Taake laid out on “Myr” with a weirdly Ex Deo “Caligula” call for attention. Ole (guitars and keys), Jon (bass) and Ask Ty (drums) provide a strong instrumental backbone for the band that’s very consistent with what they’ve delivered on past albums.

Production-wise, Kampfar chose to work with Jonas Kjellgren, owner and operator of Black Lounge Studios in Sweden, with Peter Tägtgren undertaking mixing duties. The quality is top-notch as with Mare, with the album having a very melodically accessible modern Swedish sound, more-so than one wants or expects from their Norwegian black metal. With the lengthier tracks mostly hogging the front part of the album, Djevekmakt feels a little draggy to begin, and I found the back-end of the album much more enticing with the quicker track changes.

Outside of overly accessible nature of the album, and the aforementioned dragginess, Djevelmakt  successfully feels like the next logical and natural progression from Mare and for the most part it’s a gratifying listen. The album still keeps in touch with elements of the bands early works spanning their 20 years. And while I wouldn’t say that the album leaps ahead with anything that Mare hasn’t already delivered, it is indeed a steadfast offering and if you enjoyed Mare, you’ll enjoy Djevelmakt.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
Label: Indie Recordings
Websites: KampfarOfficial | Facebook.com/Kampfarofficial
Release Dates: Out Worldwide: 01.27.2014

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Pretty slow start to the year…except for Inferi their new one ‘The Path Of Apotheosis’ is very fast indeed and techy and melodic.
    I’d be interested to see if it gets the all important AMG seal of approval

  • RagE

    This has gotten a log of good press here in Norway, and i have tried several times to like it, but i have still not been able to listen to the whole thing. I get about 2/3 in before i get bored and put on something else.

  • Forest Father

    They need to get Thomas back. He was the one writing the excellent riffs that made the band unique.

  • Damnfool

    Just bought it. Mare is a decent album. But this one, Djevelmakt, is insane. If you like this kind of music, that’s perfection. You need to listen to it at least a few times to fully embrace it, though.

  • pfk505

    I finally got around to listening to this. I just don’t feel the same way about Kampfar without Thomas – to the reviewer, who hasn’t heard Kvass and Heimgang, do yourself a favor and check those out. You’ll immediately notice the difference, that being Thomas’ epic, folky riffs! That’s what made the band unique. With that said, I enjoyed Djevelmakt a good deal more than Mare. It’s a great modern black metal album. We’re about a month away from Profan now and its helped me get some of my enthusiasm back for this band!