Endezzma – The Archer, Fjord and the Thunder Review

It’s a silent and foggy evening on the banks of your fjord. You’ve finally got a moment to yourself, away from the chaos of the clan. You press play on your Windir tape as you sit back to watch the fog unfurl over the water. Then a light. Then an arrow. All of a sudden a buff trio of mythological malevolent creatures arrive to upset your reverie and rain fire upon your name. Endezzma has arrived with a slow, evil intent that rapidly turns to chaos and hellfire. The Archer, Fjord and the Thunder is the Norwegian five-piece’s third full-length and it’s a journey away from the archaic, alchemic subterfuge of their previous release. Into the Nordic afterlife, we go.

Compared to previous record The Arcane Abyss, this is instantly vaster in scope. Endezzma reach towards Valhalla with frequent mid-paced Viking metal segments that shine gold against the blackened thrash of their soul. Endezzma, however, have not discarded their battle beaten base layer in favor of shining ornamentation and flimsy showmanship — both exist in harmony. The Arcane Abyss was riffthrashtic with the band spiralling their sound through realms of dark magic. The Archer, Fjord and the Thunders, in comparison, emerges from arcane dungeons and presents its riffcract on a throne of nordic pomp. Thankfully, Endezzma retains riff rigor.

The Archer, Fjord and the Thunder begins on a dour note. “The Awakening” is a Draugr rising from death, a funerary and fleeting instrumental that leads into the burning majesty of “The Name of the Night is a Strong Tower.” It’s a dramatic opener that restrains itself from the barrage of riffcraft that is to follow. Steadier, but still close to the edge, it utilizes simpler Viking melodies — vocal chants in accompaniment — to lay a solid foundation. Suddenly the record opens up, a schism in the sky. “Anomalious Abomination” and “The Archer, Fjord and the Thunder” are blistering gallops of searing black thrash that ride the high end with energy, counteracting the sturdy base of “The Name of the Night is a Strong Tower.” Back-end track “Open Your Eyes and Stab The Sight” is equally, if not more, wild. Its fury is glittered by melodic lead guitar work that drops from the darkness like flaming arrows. Clean vocal interjections, sudden and infrequent, provide an extra layer of dynamism to an invigorating track. These are short flurries that strike then leave. With 10 tracks and a 39-minute runtime, the record certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome.

As a whole, The Archer, Fjord and the Thunder is constant in its furor but there are deviations that spin a listener into fresher vistas. “Wild Glorior Death” utilizes frequent sword slashing grooves that march, heavy-footed, in the low end — less thrash and more plod. “Garden ov Heathen” swaggers with a punkier menace, darker in tone, and not reliant on blistering instrumental pace to cast chaos. Instead, the vocals of Morten Shax provide a gruff and theatric snarl. The vocals, perhaps, are one of the features that might displease some listeners. At times, Shax’s semi-spoken growls are reminiscent of the crooked stylings of first wave vocalists. At other times they carry a sort of blackened sing-song tone that reminds me a lot of Dark Fortress’ Morean in terms of clean-harsh alternation and cadence. Generally, there’s a rockier gruffness that acts as a dirty abrasion to the pristine black metal beneath.

The Archer, Fjord and the Thunder ends as it began: downcast and forlorn. “Arrows of Equilibrium” is somber and pensive in comparison to the rest of the record, at least during its build-up. Here, Endezzma conveys despair well with Shax shredding his vocal chords before the song deteriorates into overindulgent chaos. There’s little space on this record and Endezzma could show a bit more emotional balance. The opening track, though solid, lacks the wow factor that a great record needs to kick off. Though I’m mostly a fan of the vocals, there are moments when Shax’s tone clashes quite awkwardly with the music. These are elements that stop this from reaching the upper echelons. Nonetheless, The Archer, Fjord and the Thunder is a strong third release from a band becoming consistently solid. I’ll be sure to revisit this in the future; perhaps the Gods will change my rating as the months pass. There’s nothing truly unique here but what remains is energetic, competent, and memorable. Sometimes that’s all you need.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Essence Records
Website: endezzma.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/endezzma
Releases Worldwide: January 22nd, 2021

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