Written By: Hell³

Having a vague memory of “Orkan” being a song title from Taake‘s 2011 album, Noregs Vaapen and then seeing it recently pop up on AMG’s promo list got me wondering. What did the term mean? My limited foreign language skills being what they are, I consulted Wikipedia, who kindly solved the mystery – a cyclonic windstorm. Now unless a cyclone’s deliberately trying to rip the roofing shingles from my house, temperamental weather conditions don’t keep me up at night. (That honor is actually left to the as yet unseen AMG logo awaiting a triumphant launch on the website). At any rate, I picked up the Livlaus promo for review and discovered there was indeed an interesting link relating to Orkan‘s appearance. It seems that Orkan (the band reference) refers to a Norwegian four-man atmospheric and blackened thrash force, formed back in 2008 by ex-Byfrost drummer Rune Nesse and Taake‘s own live guitarist Gjermund Fredheim. The remaining members of Orkan include frontman Einar Fjelldal (ex-Gravemachine) and former Grimnorth bassist Sindre Hillesdal. With an interesting connection between the two bands established, and having a tipoff that Livalus packs “variation,” that Hoest (Taake) and V’Gandr (Helheim) would do guest vocals, this album all but demanded a review. Variety’s the spice of life, how could I say no!

Things get off to a drawn out start and by the end of the first song you’ve established that variety is NOT Orkan‘s middle name. At more than nine minutes, “Fanden På Veggen” takes what feels like a month of Sunday’s to really get up and moving. The opening melody builds and develops morosely and with painstaking slowness. The atmosphere intensifies and along with the barrage of blast beats comes the backing gurgle of depravity. Around the mid-point of the track you get slapped by déja vu as you realize that Orkan sounds remarkably like Taake, and were the two bands to share a discography, Livlaus would fit comfortably between Noregs Vaapen and Stridens Hus, sans the “Du Ville Ville Vestland” Sabbath flavored doom riffing and the “Myr” banjo interlude.

The rest of the album passes by in a destructive blur with no one track standing out as either particularly good or particularly bad. They’re just there. You listen to them, they sound technically proficient, sometimes catchy, they’re packed with the appropriate number of shifts and changes, they carry on logically from one to the next with nothing jarring and then they’re safely over. Just like that. Nothing stays behind tugging at your memory or your heart-strings. Is anybody out there still looking for “new” generic Norwegian black metal bands? I’m left feeling the album has followed a stale formula and not even the appearance of Hoest on “Uforgjengeleg” and V’gandr on “Livlaus del 3: Tusen Sjeler” do much to liven things up.

Einar Fjelldal’s vocal delivery plays a part in the vanilla taste of this album. Yes, his delivery has marked similarities to Taake‘s frontman. The major difference though is that Einar’s sweat drenched rasps have a one-dimensional quality, a distinct lack of intensity and they lack snarling intent when compared to those of his obvious role model. At a recent show by Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum, Steel Druhm and I commented on the similarity of the two bands performing, and the fact that they were putting on a show together. At times the bands appeared so similar, they were interchangeable and at other times the lesser known of the two actually proved the superior entertainer. This is something that’s going to dog Orkan. Putting two such similar bands on a touring roster together, sharing costs and performers, probably makes good marketing sense. Unfortunately, in this case, it’s going do little more than to highlight the Orkan‘s redundancy.

Orkan Livlaus 02

Despite checking all the boxes necessary for a Norwegian black metal album release, Livlaus has a throw away quality. I have no burning need for second tier black metal. The number of people who still listen to this common brand of black metal has dwindled and to be successful today and attract listeners outside of this small fanpool, an album needs to really shine. Livlaus has little to no shine. Gents, if you take one thing from this review, DO take a note out of Taake‘s Noregs Vaapen – think outside of the checked box you’ve put yourselves in.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Essence Records
Websites: facebook.com/orkan
Releases Worldwide: September 11th, 2015

Tagged with →  
Share →
  • Is that Azkaban on the cover?

    • Pretty sure if you look carefully at the top floor you can see Bellatrix in the window.

    • You wot m8?

      3/10 Not enough dementors,

  • AndySynn

    Totally off-topic, but I am entirely of the opinion that OG have become the superior band nowadays when compared to Insomnium, who have very much become stuck in a very streamlined musical rut. And I say that as a fan of both bands still.

    • I agree with you on that one.

    • OG certainly has a stage presence that far surpasses Insomnium. Granted Insomnium had some band issues that unsettled them, that aside, OG owned that stage.

    • Thatguy

      I haven’t seen either live, but I prefer OG too. The songs on their albums are are more diverse and a lot more fun. I can imagine them owning the stage.

      I’m joining this discussion rather than commenting on the album because the embedded track won’t play at the moment. The review is so well done though – thank you, Madam X – that I don’t really need to hear it.

      • Appreciate your kind words.

        If you get the chance check out an OG show, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

  • Alexandre Barata

    I enjoy my 2nd wave of Black Metal very much, thank you. Where I think this failed is where they try to be more than that. The rock riffs on the posted song fit terribly bad in the rest of the song, for example. Also the production doesn’t help, it’s noisy, but sound too modern, which takes off not only most of the soul of the release but also making it almost unbearable (this point is only real if the album sounds really the same as in the soundcloud).

    So not only it isn’t nothing exceptional, no great riffs nor atmosphere, it fails where it wants to standout, imo.

  • You wot m8?

    Went and checked out Taake, as recommended. Was not disappointed.

    • We mexicans love Taake.

      • Hulksteraus

        That is AWESOME!!.

        • PanzerFistDominatrix

          We can all learn the tricks of the trade of fine Mexican black metal dining.

      • PanzerFistDominatrix

        Taco al pastor. Dame más!

  • Lasse Momme

    I quite liked Uforgjengeleg personally, I thought it was fun little song with some pretty interesting patterns. I do agree though that the record as whole is pretty vanilla and doesn’t do a lot to get it self noticed.

  • When I read Orkan my mind went to the amazing 2012 Vintersorg album. As a matter of fact I think I will play that one instead. Thanks for the review!