Dissection - Storm of the Light's Bane 01When I was first seduced by the ragged charms of extreme metal, it took me quite a while to get sucked into the black metal vortex. It wasn’t that I was opposed to the idea of the genre, more that my tastes gravitated in a different direction and instead I consumed as much death, grind, thrash, sludge and anything NOLA as I could get my grubby mitts on. As the years went by, my determination to decipher what was so fucking great about black metal increased. In sync with my general methods of going backwards to move forward, I came across a wee band out of Sweden that played a more palatable and melodic brand of black metal. They combined elements from the famed Gothenburg metal scene, fusing this influence with the burgeoning second wave that had whipped Norway and the larger metal world into a furious storm of notoriety, tremolo melodies, blast beats and corpse paint.

Dissection was formed by Jon Nödtveidt in the small Swedish town of Strömstad in 1989, releasing a demo and EP before dropping their debut album, The Somberlain, in 1993. The Somberlain is rightfully considered a landmark melodic death/black album, however it was the release of 1995’s sophomore album Storm of the Light’s Bane where Dissection really hit their stride and composed a monumental album of frost-bitten melodic majesty and raw savagery. Led by the brilliant and troubled soul of vocalist/guitarist Nödtveidt and featuring Ole Öhman on drums, bassist Peter Palmdahl and rhythm guitarist Johan Norman in tow, Storm of the Light’s Bane remains a defining example of the melodic black metal formula. From the ominous strains of instrumental opener “At the Fathomless Depths” through the hauntingly beautiful piano notes of the closing “No Dreams Breed in Breathless Sleep,” Storm of the Light’s Bane is the sound of a band in the absolute fucking zone capturing lightning in a bottle.

Dissection - Storm of the Light's Bane 03The songwriting remains some of the most dynamic, instantly gratifying and accessible the black metal scene has ever produced. Storm of the Light’s Bane is relentless and expertly crafted, featuring timeless songs like the frantically delivered and instantly headbangable riffs and epic melodic break of “Night’s Blood,” sinister melodies and blasty assault of “Unhallowed,” or the monstrous riff-driven surge of the epic “Thorns of Crimson Death.” Nödtveidt’s slick writing and raspy growl are immense while the outstanding guitar work pumps a constant flow of infectious riffs and writhing leads and harmonies through the album’s veins. The dude had some demons but he delivered at the peak of his powers here. Storm of the Light’s Bane may be defined by brilliant guitar work, but drummer Ole Öhman delivers a truly first class performance worthy of praise. Not content to just sit in auto blast mode, his creative drum patterns, jaw-dropping fills and killer mix of finesse and aggression formed the ideal rhythmic foil.

Perhaps the greatest endorsement of Storm of the Light’s Bane’s endearing legacy rests in just how thrilling it still sounds today. I often find myself chopping and changing between personal favorites, with not a second wasted during the album’s perfectly concise duration. The unique imprint of each song formed vital cogs in the album’s seamless flow, whether it be the beastly riffs and scything melodies of “Retribution – Storm of the Light’s Bane” or the restless energy and blizzard blasts of “Soulreaper” there’s not a shred of weakness to be found. Extra props to the stellar production job from Dan Swanö, which lent the music a slick icy sheen, beefy drum sound and biting guitar tone.

Dissection - Storm of the Light's Bane 02

In 1997 Nödtveidt was arrested for his role in the murder of a homosexual man in Keillers Park in Göteborg, western Sweden, and sentenced to 10 years in prison. There was conjecture on whether this was a hate crime purely motivated by homophobia, or a satanic sacrifice (perhaps both), but the deeply disturbing crime casts an ugly shadow over Dissection’s legacy. Nödtveidt would eventually take his own life in 2006, a couple of years after his release. Although I’d prefer to focus on the music, while writing this piece I was reminded of Grymm’s insightful article On the Separation of Art from Artist and more recently Jean Luc-Ricard’s tactful handling of the Enabler review. Not to detract from the greatness of this album or open another can of worms, but it does make for interesting discussion.

Controversies aside, Storm of the Light’s Bane is a surefire classic that holds up exceptionally well and stands as a pillar of strength and innovation in a highly creative yet turbulent era for the black metal scene. Numerous years after acquiring a bloodthirst for the blackened arts, Storm of the Light’s Bane remains one of my go-to black metal albums and is a pivotal album in the genre’s storied history.

Share →
  • Stefunal

    It’s so annoying if you find some awesome music and the guy who has made it kills homosexuals or rapes children. Stupid conscience.

    Greetings from a newly won reader from Russia, by the way.

    • Welcome aboard!

      • Stefunal

        You really have got an amazing little blog here. Hats off.

        • Thanks for the kind words! We do what we can.

    • Óðinn

      So true. As much as I love Black Metal in general, many Black Metal musicians have been homophobes and racists.

      • Stefunal

        It’s sad, really. That is one of the reasons why I stopped reading biographies of black metal bands in first place, so that I’d be able to listen to music without bothering how sick the creators were.

        • Oberon

          As sick and disturbed as some of these musicans are, they wouldn’t have made such music otherwise

          • Stefunal

            No music is worth a human’s life. If you have to kill people to do good black metal, black metal shouldn’t exist.

            And I really do like black metal.

          • Oberon

            No, no it isn’t worth a human’s life. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of good black metal bands, with members that are upright citizens, but it always seems like the worst always get brought up?

          • Stefunal

            Well, yeah, the sickest are always the most famous. For some reason.

        • Óðinn

          I don’t blame you.

  • AndySynn

    I love this album. And The Somberlain.

    And… cough… Reinkaos.

    • 2 outta 3 ain’t bad.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Jeepers, Mr. Druhm, Sir, you took the words right out of my mouth (as another commenter said elsewhere).

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I’m with you, dude. I LOVE Reinkaos and will fight anyone that wants some.

      • I see I need to beat some sense into that HR addled brain pan of yours.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          It’s no use. I’m broken.

          • Take a week off. When you come back we have some lovely nu-metal for you to review.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            *stabs ice-pick into eardrums*

          • hubcapiv

            That’d actually boost the review by a point or two.

          • CLICKBAITING!

            OV COVRSE IT HAD TO BE THE DR.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Nu- metal gurgling through the blood in my ears is fucking broooooootal.

          • Hammersmith

            Ill Nino, they’re back, in pog form.

  • Wilbur Teegrus

    This album definitely helped me become more comfortable with black metal and eased me into blastbeats at the start of my journey into the more extreme genres. Soulreaper is one of my favorite BM songs!

    As for Jon…there can be no excuse for what he did. I’ll always feel the double-edged sword of cognitive dissonance when I listen to this album.

    • Luke_22

      Agreed, I think it is a great starting point for getting into black metal while still containing all the key elements of the genre.

  • Handy Donut Hole

    My first foray into the dark realms of black metal was through Emperor’s “In The Nightside Eclipse”. I stumbled on this gem of an album shortly thereafter and have returned frequently to bask in the darkness.

    • Stefunal

      A wonderful album indeed. Those chills…

  • Worldeater

    It is a great and well written album. But I found myself unable to separate art from artist, so i stopped listening to it. Fortunately there is enough high quality metal around, so there is no need to listen to everything.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      There is no reason in the world good enough to keep oneself from listening to “Night’s Blood”.

      • Edgar Allan Bro

        Listening to Soulreaper often keeps me from listening to Night’s Blood :)

    • Daniel

      Yet you’re named after an imperialist band who don’t actually condemn or condone man’s savagery as they believe we’re a bunch of violent apes on a rock. You can’t be worried about such things.

      • Worldeater

        Au contraire monsieur, I am named after the XII Legion of the Imperial Space Marines of the Warhammer 40k universe, but thanks for the hint, die not know this band.

  • mtlman1990

    One of my favorite albums of all time.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    It’s here!!!! Great write-up, as usual.

  • Nick Maestas

    So how about some reviews of old Rotting Christ albums? Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, Genesis, or Theogonia?

    • Óðinn

      I’d be interested in reading that.

      • Juan

        Yes, that would be great

      • Hulksteraus

        +1

    • Grymm

      I want to do one on Theogonia. Such an incredible album. The chorus in “Enuma Elish” is beastly.

      • Mark Hunt

        do it!

      • Nick Maestas

        That Enuma Elish guitar solo is so good. Phobos Synagogue to He, the Aethyr is such a badass string of songs too.

  • Philip Pledger

    As someone who didn’t have the benefit of hearing this stuff the first time around, I’m really grateful for these Yer Metal is Olde retrospectives. My first metal album was Death Magnetic at the age of thirteen, and I had barely even heard of Metallica before let alone Dissection or Carcass. A subscription to Guitar World didn’t really help either, as it tends to focus on either the blindingly obvious past records (pretty much just Sabbath and Metallica, honestly) or the blindingly obvious current records (which they drool over with fanboyish glee, declaring Repentless “metal record of the year” on their latest cover). I’ve been a fan of metal for about seven years now, but I’ve learned more about the genre since I discovered AMG in June than I had in all those years previous (I’ve also probably bought at least twice as many albums, too…). Seriously, guys, keep it up!

  • I bought this album the day before the first (and last) time I’d ever see Dissection live, in 1996. At the Gates and Morbid Angel were also there, a really legendary lineup (as both ATG and Dissection disbanded immediately after). There are very few metal albums that have blown me away on the first listen, and sometimes it takes many spins before I see what the music is about at all (e.g. Symphonies of Sickness in the heyday). Storm of the Light’s Bane was just so gripping, so incredible from the opening instrumental to the final track ‘Soulreaper’, that it seemed like a totally different class from everything I had been listening to (and struggling with) before it. So brilliant that it made itself look effortless. A true and enduring masterpiece.

    • Luke_22

      Great post dude, I’m very envious you got to catch them live and I’m (obviously) with you all the way on the magic of this album.

  • drathbun502

    Still my favorite album of all time. I remember religiously checking my mailbox everyday, because back then Relapse took 4-6 weeks and you had to put alternates down. Ha! I got this and DMDS the same day. No other album I own has been played as much as this since I got it. I can’t think of any other album where every note played, every drum hit, every lyric, and the visual presentation stand up decades later this well. Dark Side of the Moon maybe? Powerslave? Sgt Pepper? Zep IV? That’s the company I place this record in.

    • Mark Hunt

      Dark Tranquillity – The Gallery maybe?
      It sounds oldschool, but it doesn’t feel old one bit. Very few albums aged so well in my opinion.

  • Deeply troubled individuals will sometimes fester in a strangely appealing and beautiful way. I went back to hearing this one while writing the Ninkharsag review, and as you rightly said Luke, it was a bit shocking to hear that sound so fresh that you wouldn’t believe 20 years have passed since it’s release. Great post.

    • Luke_22

      Thanks Hell, always appreciate your posts. And yes seems to be the way with many artistic souls, regardless of the medium. Who knows if he wasn’t a bit fucked in the head maybe the music wouldn’t be so good. The murder case was disturbing stuff though.

  • Hammersmith

    Not a huge fan of BM in general, but really dig this album and the Somberlain.

  • drathbun502

    Also, check out the new Trident Ep Shadows. It’s killer. It’s the best thing I’ve heard from the other guys in the band.

    • Luke_22

      Will do, thanks for the heads-up.

    • That’s pretty good – the first track alone knocks Thulcandra in a cocked hat. Some properly brutal blackened death metal.

  • Alexandre Barata

    I don’t have any love for anyone that suicides doing a satanic ritual, or whatever imbecile ritual. That for me makes Jon more worthless than any hate crime (I know my morals are kinda twisted). Still I don’t care much about the artist when the end product has this amazing quality. It’s still one of the best Melo Black the history has to offer us, simple listeners!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    To keep up with the latest Slayer and Maiden reviews and keep the controversy going you could start a new section called “Yer Metal is Olde and it Sucks” .
    There you could say how crappy old albums are. I mean, anyone can slag Slayer´s newest, but “Reign In Blood”?
    ;)

    • I would be up for doing this for e.g. Cause of Death, but that would entail re-listening to it and I’m just not willing to take the risk of dying from boredom.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Of all the albums you could have chosen to trash you choose “Cause of Death”… Which is is my Top 5 All-Time Absolute Best Death Metal albums ever.
        If we knew each other, I’d say you were doing it on purpose just to piss me off.
        For trashing such an awesome album you deserve to be Turned Inside Out, then Chopped In Half and put in a Body Bag so no one gets Infected while tryind to discover the Cause Of Death.
        ;)

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    You forgot to say a couple of things about “Storm of The Light´s Bane”.
    For example you didn’t say how it manages to keep one foot firmly planted in Death Metal while keeping the other foot firmly planted in Black Metal. You also forgot to say it kicks ass with both feet.
    20 years later not only is this album the template for Melodic Death/Black but it has yet to be bettered or even equalled by anyone.
    “0 years later this is still the “go to” album when a metalhead needs that mix of Black, Death, melody and brutality.

    • Luke_22

      No I guess I didn’t explicitly say it, but the Gothenburg reference was slipped in because of the pronounced melodic death influence. Although I think The Somberlain had a stronger death metal presence. And it does indeed kick ass with both feet!

  • Adam

    Ha, weird coincidence, merely a few hours before this was written I was reading about Dissection and Nodtveidt’s satanic cult.. I’ll check it out

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Hot patootie – bless my soul, I sure do like this one. I get so caught up in the new stuff I forget to check in on the past masters. I also had to listen to Sons of Northern Darkness after this today. Maybe some Ulver next.

    • Hulksteraus

      Yep, thems some fine albums right there :).

    • Wilbur Teegrus

      hmmmDEMONIUM….

  • Wilhelm

    This is one of those albums where you feel scared when you listen to it. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered another extreme metal album with such an accessible appeal while spawning endless technical riff after riff. I would say it is the PERFECT balance of melody, aggression, technicality, songwriting, and atmosphere (production). If we ever hear an album like this again, I would be highly surprised.

  • buttsguy

    i’ve been into black metal for the better part of 15 years and i can shamefully say i’d never listened to this album until i saw this post. good stuff. thanks for this colonel saunders

  • WalrusKing

    I listened to this album the day the article was posted and it didn’t quite click for me. Had to work late tonight tonight and decided to try it again while alone at work. Second time through it grew on me a bit. Fast forward to the fourth time through and I’m screaming “WIELD THE SCYTHE OF THE SOUL REAPER!” as one of my co-workers walks into the room. Thanks Mr. Saunders!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      20 years later, Night´s Blood often pops up in my mind for no reason. Well, for no reason other than being a great song that carves itself into your mind.

  • Thanks for the shout out, apologies for only just getting round to reading this!

  • Ralph Plug

    I clearly remember a review of this album in a Dutch magazine (Aardschok) describing Dissection as “Iron Maiden on speed with Blaze Bayley after a car crash.” Went out and bought it the same afternoon.

  • TomArayaScream

    I get chills every time I hear “Where Dead Angels Lie” and “Retribution – Storm of the Light’s Bane.”
    This album most definitely holds its own against the mass of other black metal out there. Even Carach Angren.