Till Fjälls (“To the Mountains”) marked the début of Sweden’s Vintersorg and thus began one of the better melodic black and folk metal bands around. Though their music phased out the folk influences and replaced them with even more melody, Till Fjälls del II is a definitive statement that they still care about folksy stimuli. Cast your eyes over the rather excellent artwork. Do you see the mountains, the trees, the snow, the Northern fucking Lights? I think you’ll agree that they definitely still care about nature and shit.

II represents an entirely logical step for Vintersorg, completing a return to their roots which was foreshadowed by the past 3 records. Jordpuls, Orkan and Naturbål retreated from the pseudo-scientific and -philosophical reaches of Andreas Hedlund’s (Vintersorg himself) mind, back to the organic, folk-influenced melodic black metal with which he developed his name. Seemingly a direct sequel to the great first record, II fully retakes the Scandinavian mantle of snow-frosted mountains and wild forests in a way which will be familiar to lovers of their natural material. The only slight defect in this symmetry of their discography is that while the aforementioned 3 records respectively concerned earth, air and fire, we never received an album expressly dedicated to the fourth classical element, water. But I’ll cut Mr. Sorg some slack as he’s once again written a stand-out record replete with heroine-laced choruses and sharp instrumental melodies.

I imagine these songs are borderline unforgettable if you actually speak Swedish. For us non-Swedish peasants, it’s still remarkable that I’m able to mimic all the sounds and sing along without having a clue about the meaning. The Beatles once mused that “love is all you need” but Vintersorg apparently doesn’t subscribe to this view: rather, amazing choruses are more than sufficient. I’d even dare to suggest that they’re more consistent than ever with no track here which I’d rather wasn’t. This is particularly pertinent given the record’s lengthy 67 minutes. I’m confident there’s something clinically wrong with you if you’re not immediately deploying your best Swedish accent to sing along with the chorus of “Vinterstorm” (“Winter Storm,” unsurprisingly), while “Tillbaka till Källorna” (“Back to the Sources”) is another highlight given its unbelievable vocal hooks. “Fjällets Mäktiga Mur” (“The Great Wall of the Mountain”) opens with that profound piano lead in which Vintersorg specializes and which usually marks my favorite Vintersorg tracks – such as the title tracks from Till Fjälls and Orkan. It also features a cute homage to the former with “Till fjälls!” chanted in the chorus. It is, accordingly, another fantastic track.

II is pleasingly familiar, like rediscovering your old favorite tea mug at the back of the cupboard. It’s everything in Vintersorg‘s repertoire taken to its logical conclusion through the subtle tuning of their formula. But my first criticism is the lack of development. I’m a progression kinda guy and like to hear change after bands nail their formula. That formula was essentially already nailed on the past 3 records which were stylistically quite similar. I’ll therefore be docking precious points as I have a multitude of choice of this sort of music already. This is especially so given the duration of the album. I’m perfectly aware of my subjective position as a reviewer and in the hopes of heading off complaints that I’m “not being objective,” I want to highlight that these are my personal responses to, and thoughts about, II.

My second objection is one familiar to AMG‘s writings on Vintersorg: the master. DR4 simply limits the expressiveness and dynamics of Vintersorg’s song-writing which is otherwise so colorful and vibrant. II does sound better than other albums with similar scores on account of the evenly balanced mix and the relative prominence of electric guitars above more subtle instrumentation but it’s an unnecessary shortcoming. The track which truly highlights the deficiency is the soft conclusion, “Svart Måne” (“Black Moon”). Its gentle acoustic melody and group chants strongly recall Ulver‘s Kveldssanger but unlike that gorgeously produced album, its acoustic guitar lacks delicacy and sounds loud.

Don’t let my complaints hold you back from yet another great Vintersorg release, however. Old fans will find plenty more to enjoy while new ones can look forward to one of the best examples of black metal layered with clean vocals. Even though II is similar to their previous work it’s tough for this to color my opinion too much given how well executed it is. I’m struggling to think of other bands who have as many releases who are still as good as these guys. My only future concern results from the symmetry of their career progression: as they’ve returned to their roots, where to next?


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps MP3
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: facebook.com/vintersorg
Releases worldwide: June 30th, 2017

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  • ssorg

    There’s no band. It’s just one dude in varying stages of grooming.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I want the beard in the middle and the jacket on the left.

      • Eli Valcik

        I want that jacket too, seriously what brand is it?

    • Thatguy

      But the shirt on the dude on the right. That’s not a band logo -it’s a stain.

      • sir_c

        His girlfriend just informed him which week it is

    • sir_c

      I thought the dudes of Gas Monkey Garage formed a band

    • Practical McPractica

      No, Mattias Marklund has been guitarist for Vintersorg since 1999, and Simon Lundström joined in 2015 as bassist, so it was two-person band for 16 years, and a three-person band since 2015.

  • rumour

    Well-written and -considered review. Cheers. Like this:
    “…something clinically wrong with you if you’re not immediately deploying your best Swedish accent to sing along with the chorus of “Vinterstorm”…”

  • AndySynn

    “heroine-laced” eh? Sounds kinky. I’ll bite.

  • Dagoth_RAC

    Focusing Blur and Spiral Generator are two of my favorite albums ever. They were so catchy and unique. I have not been able to get into Vintersorg ever since he returned to his “roots”. I keep holding out hope he will get weird on us again, like he did with those albums, but I just don’t think it is ever going to happen.

  • Akira Watts

    That *is* absurdly catchy. I’m sort of glad I haven’t listened to these guys in the past, so any quibbles about a lack of development pass me by entirely. Good shit.

    • El_Cuervo

      It’s as good a place as any to start.

  • Aguy

    “DR 4”

    JESUS CHRIST!

    I thought I was reading a review of a pretty good, if safe, album – and then you hit us with that? This is like reading a positive restaurant review that suddenly starts lamenting the razor blades in the food.

    • El_Cuervo

      Ye it’s not diabolical but is such an unnecessary deficiency.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    I’ve been a fan of VIntersorg ever since I discovered this site quite some time ago. It’s safe to say he’s one of my favourite musicians of all time, and has made nary a bad album (save for the rather disjointed Solens Rötter). Till Fjälls del II takes me back to the time I was an eager teenager new to the world of extreme metal, lapping up everything I could find. It’s truly magical.
    Musically, it sounds like the path Vintersorg would have taken if they didn’t make Cosmic Genesis. It’s like the perfect blend of the first 2 albums, right down to the ridiculously catchy choruses.
    My only complaint is the atrociously compressed production that has plagued most of this band’s releases in the past few years. I wish someone would take Mr V to a producer worth their salt to produce a record that isn’t brickwalled.

  • Mattias Niklasson

    Jordpuls, Orkan and Naturbål aren’t exclusively dedicated to one element each, rather all of them concern the beauty of space/nature (phenomena) and while Jordpuls certainly focuses more on earth and naturbål more on fire, orkan is equal parts air, water, space and geology in my humble swedish-as-native-language opinion.

    • El_Cuervo

      Well then you clearly know much better than me!

      • Mattias Niklasson

        Haha I hope so. Thanks for the great review! I’m slowly starting to drop comments more regularly here and forget about half of the things I want to say.

      • Practical McPractica

        FYI, Andreas said he’s planning on releasing the final elemental album after this one.

  • Great review and a great album! I have been looking forward to this for a while.

    Who wants to start the petition to have Dan Swano give this a new vinyl mix with a better DR score?!?!

  • Drew Music

    For fuck’s sake, we go from a RotM that echoed exactly none of my (read: the correct) choices to… complete and utter agreement??? What a br00tally beautiful bumpy ride this place is.

  • Marc Rikmenspoel

    I’ve been listening to Mr. V since around 2001, between the releases of Cosmic Genesis and Visions. I thought 2014’s Naturbal was one of his best albums. What I’ve heard so far of this new one doesn’t sound that different from his other recent releases, as the review suggests. The strength of his more recent output, at least to my ears, is that lead guitarist Mattias Marklund now takes a larger role in the arranging, so that his parts (especially solos) have become more interesting.

    I’m not one to worry too much about DR. Since at least Solens Rotter, Hedlund has recorded his albums (and his parts for Borknagar and Cronian) in his basement. I think he achieves a decent enough sound, under the circumstances. One other thing, note that his first release is actually the Hedniskhjartad EP, which does not have good production, but fortunately posseses very good songs.

  • Thatguy

    I don’t know. These guys always leave me cold. There is something formulaic about what they do and the melodies are rather trite.

    • [not a Dr]

      Because vinter?

  • Thomas Wilkens

    I like it. I have no idea what they’re singing about; but as a fan of death metal I can safely say I’m used to being left in the dark.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Nice one El C
    I’ll definitely check this out though I feel like I stepped of the Vintersorg train after Naturbål… DR4 isn’t a good start.
    Why can’t he make an album with Swano, that would be great.

    • That would be great!

      Visions from the Spiral Generator managed to sound decent in spite of being around DR6. DR4 is really pushing it. It could be the best music and I still don’t want to sit through a whole album of brickwall. It’s fatiguing at best and headache-inducing at worst.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        It seems like a natural fit I’m sort of surprised they haven’t.

    • nunka

      Good idea! It would also be great if Swanö contributed all the guitars and vocals.

      Basically what I’m saying is Dan Swanö should just write, play, sing, record, and produce everyone’s music.

  • gus rodrigues

    Did not know this was coming out… this really made my day. I really like this band. Have been following them since cosmic genesis (to be honest, I like everything that vintersorg has done, including otyg), and I can say that I was quite happy with the direction of the past 3 albuns. Will issue my opinions on this one once i give it a proper listen. Great review btw! On a side note, we are just reaching the middle of the year and in my opinion this has been a very strong year for my tastes (vallenfyre, pain of salvation and soen have put out some of the best albuns i have listened in a long while) and I really hope this end up in my top ten…

  • Innit Bartender

    Always liked more Vintersorg in Borknagar than solo, but still I’ll give this a try.
    Note to band photographer: next time you shoot someone in a freezing forest, don’t forget to photoshop red noses.

  • Ondřej Hanus

    Tusenmetersstuppen! What is that? A thousand-meter long socks would be my guess.

  • metalhead

    That DR4 doesnt sound THAT bad… but cmon get swano on your shit vintersorg for the love of christ