Dødsferd is one strange duck. If there was a band you could sue for false advertising, it would be this one. I still remember the shock of hearing the band’s debut, Desecrating the Spirit of Life. I mean, how did this one get by me? I thought I’d heard every ’90s Norwegian black metal gem out there. After my friend realized I wasn’t joking, he gently corrected me. “Dude, these guys are from Greece and this is brand new.” After checking the date on the dashboard of the DeLorean parked out front, I confirmed that it was indeed the Year of Our Lord and Savior 2006. Since that time, the band has released eight albums,1 with each evolving from the other. And during this time, frontman Wrath’s rasps have become more vicious, his screams more agonizing, the lyrics more depressing and suicidal, and the music more melodic and suffocating. It might have been the ’90s in ’06. But those days are long gone. Diseased Remnants of a Dying World is upon us and it has me so fucked up, I don’t know even know who I am anymore.
For the first four albums, Dødsferd stuck to their guns, hammering out the raw Scandinavian black metal of Desecrating the Spirit of Life to Death Set the Beginning of My Journey. Yet, something was brewing in Death Set that changed the direction of the band forever. Thick atmospheres of melody—in the vein of Horna and Burzum—began to surface. Wrath’s vocals became unhinged, his voice ranging from Nattefrost-like rasps to Corvus-esque (ex-Horna) agonized screams. Since the follow-up, two-track record, Suicide and the Rest of Your Kind Will Follow, the band has been enjoying a dark world of pain, misery, and sheer darkness. For the next three albums, they would tinker with their newfound grim world, finally arriving at a punky, black ‘n’ roll crossroads with 2013’s The Parasitic Survival of the Human Race. Then fans were shocked when Wastes of Life arrived in 2015, taking their sound to a new place with acoustic guitars, a soothing snail’s pace, and the depressing execution of Shining. But where the hell can it go from here?
Bathory-esque Viking metal? “My Father, My Wrath!” dropped my jaw to the floor. “What the fuck is this?” I asked myself, as I sunk deeper into the gorgeous acoustic guitars and desperate vocals like Watain attempted with “They Rode On,” but Dødsferd does better. For almost nine minutes, Diseased‘s opener builds unlike any song the band has ever written. And when Wrath’s vocals arrive, their simplicity and carelessness about key make them powerful. Though harsher and nastier than the opener, “Loyal to the Black Oath” finds Wrath’s vocals as Horna-meets-Shining as they were on Death Set the Beginning of My Journey. Also around nine minutes in length, this track is also a grower—sucking you deeper and deeper into its beefy blackened melodies and hatred for life.
The title track and “An Existence without Purpose” are as progressive and depressive as anything the band has done on their last five albums, yet with an atmosphere that reeks of Wastes. They’re slow-to-mid-paced and the combination of everything the band has been trying to do since its conception. There are harsh vox, uncontrollable cleans, random solos, and a melodic quality that feels like a boxing match between Wrath and Niklas Kvarforth.
After trudging over the sharp, jagged rocks of the album’s material, we arrive at our final resting place. Not so much a song as a collection of tortured screams and unsettling cretan lyra screechings, closer, “Back to My Homeland… My Last Breath,” is a fitting, yet uncomfortable, way to finish the album.
After absorbing Diseased Remnants of a Dying World for a couple weeks, Diseased is right in line with Wastes of Life. And… almost as good. I find myself avoiding the album’s closer however, which means Diseased—from top to bottom—isn’t as grand as its predecessor. That said, “My Father, My Wrath!” might be the most adventurous piece the band has ever written and it sets up the album perfectly. If Wastes of Life was your cup o’ tea, then you’re gonna love this.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: dodsferdofficial.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/officialdodsferd
Releases Worldwide: December 14th, 2018