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Class 6(66)

Dissection: Storm of the light's bane

04/03/11  ||  cadenz

Introduction

In the middle of the 1990’s, something fantastic happened in Sweden. Death metal in the vein of Entombed, Dismember and Grave had been ruling the extreme metal scene for a couple of years, and the second wave of black metal was starting to lift its ugly head over the horizon. Drawing inspiration from both these majestic sources of energy, some deranged minds began to mix a stew of their very own. Bands like Unanimated, Decameron, Lord Belial and so forth began to pop up, but none were as competent as the ferocious, evil spawn of Jon Nödtveidt, the mighty Dissection. With the release of their debut “The Somberlain” in 1993, they cemented themselves as the band in Swedish death/black metal. And with the follow-up, the universe exploded.

Songwriting

10. There’s no songwriting here. There’s only magic. I’ve probably never heard an album that is so uniform throughout its length, yet still so varied. The coldness that emanates from the very essence of the musical expression of Nödtveidt is nothing short of breath-taking. Malignant bursts of sulfur-spewing pure fucking evil, bone-chilling melodies that haunt your dreams at night, innovative song structures that keep you on your toes at all times, majestic and profound THE WORLD OPENS AND FINALLY I CAN SEE moments of truth and clarity…it’s all here. This is the ultimate metal manifesto.

Production

9,5. Dan Swanö pushed the “cold and freezing as the bleak apparition of Death on a winter morning, crossing the crystal-capped glaciers harboring the souls of worlds long dead” button. I’ve been looking for that button on all mixing boards ever since, with no luck. Dan, what did you do!?!? All the guitars sound so sharp and edgy, yet pleasant that it shouldn’t be possible. The drums, especially the toms sound huge, but maybe they could’ve been a tiny tiny bit more integrated in the mix. And the vocals…the soul-piercing heart of this record. Pristine is an understatement for this, the great Unisound’s greatest achievement.

Guitars

10. Riffs galore. Satan help us. There are so many quality riffs in every song that it’s not even funny. Let’s take an example: Retribution – Storm of the Light’s Bane. Intro riff A – godlike blasting. Intro riff B – majestic harmonies. Intro riff A – reminiscing the divine. Verse riff – catchy bleakness. Pre-chorus riff – energetic fireball. That’s four different amazing riffs and we’re 55 seconds into the track, and the vocals haven’t even appeared yet.

Most parts are not easy to categorize as either riffs or melodies, as they’re often both. How Nödtveidt could get in so much information into every riff and still keep them catchy and driving the song’s momentum forward is beyond me. That’s pure genius. During a few intros and bridge breaks, an eerie acoustic guitar also creeps in. Everything to set the right mood.

Vocals

10. Maybe you’re getting sick of the 10’s I’m handing out left and right? Well, fuck you. I wouldn’t do that if the recipient didn’t deserve it. And when we’re talking about the best fucken extreme metal vocalist to ever have spewed forth his hatred against life and religion, and the crown jewel of his magnum opus, well… Such distinct malevolence as Jon’s vocals on “SotLB” has seldom been heard – correction: make that never. There’s so much emotion and conviction behind his stellar screams that him being able to articulate and perform at top-notch level is beyond me. Given the state of euphoria he seems to be in, he should’ve been self-combusting out of hatred, sobbing in a heap in the corner out of melancholy or killing someone with his bare hands in a frenzy of illwill joy, not performing vocal duties in a studio booth. Maybe he was.

Bass

6. You don’t get to hear Palmdahl’s playing too loudly too often, but it supports the riffs and doesn’t go on own exploratory adventures much. A few bass fills have been inserted here and there as clever variables, but that’s it.

Drums

9. Ole Öhman plays such imaginative patterns and memorable fills that it’s spooky how they don’t come across as “too much”, but heighten the songs’ moods and keep the listener’s interest up. Why he only gets a 9 is ‘cause he’s absolutely not the tightest drummer out there. But although his tempos may vary a few bpm’s up or down, I’d much rather take Öhman’s style before a soulless, coldly calculated, technical-and-tight approach.

Lyrics

9. Quasi-poetic renditions of evil, death, anti-Christianity, the end of the world, killing the weak, hell and Satan. You know the deal. What sets these lyrics apart from most are the subtle twists in the choice of words, and the seemingly never-ending search for the purpose beyond mere actions. In darkness, in death – beyond darkness, beyond death you may find your purpose, your survival:

I drown in the color of your eye
for a black heart will only find beauty in darkness
I breathe its eternity to absorb the sky
where the shadows of my death may lie

Cover art

10. Necrolord aka Kristian Wåhlin. You know him? You should. This is his finest piece. It’s in such perfect correlation with the music that any one of them wouldn’t be as iconic as it is without the other. I have a signed 27”/22” lithograph of this album cover on my bedroom wall, contact the man himself if you’re interested in one. The button Dan Swanö pushed to achieve the production values herein was, as you can see if you scroll back to that paragraph, a perfect fit to the cover as well.

Logo

9. Jagged, shiny, metally, cold, sharp, menacing. Awesome.

Booklet

8. My digipak holds no booklet, but the lyrics, technical information and band member photos are printed on the digipak’s sleeves which open to the left, right and up. All the necessary stuff, and it looks damn sweet.

Overall and ending rant

If there was one album which could be perfect, it would be this. Through the thousands of records I’ve heard, none is as magical as this one. The atmosphere that permeates the whole opus, from intro to outro, is so grandiose, cold and evil it still gives me shivers every time I listen to it, fifteen years since hearing it for the first time. This is also probably the album I’ve spun the most total times, ever, and its quality and impact show not a single sign of wear. It has not aged well. It has aged fucken superbly. Jon was a genius, and this is the pinnacle of his genius. All hail Dissection, the mightiest of the mighty!

10

  • Information
  • Released: 1995
  • Label: Nuclear Blast
  • Website: www.dissection.se
  • Band
  • Jon Nödtveidt: vocals & lead, rhythm, acoustic guitars
  • Johan Norman: rhythm guitars
  • Peter Palmdahl: bass guitar
  • Ole Öhman: battery
  • Tracklist
  • 01. At the Fathomless Depths
  • 02. Night’s Blood
  • 03. Unhallowed
  • 04. Where Dead Angels Lie
  • 05. Retribution – Storm of the Light’s Bane
  • 06. Thorns of Crimson Death
  • 07. Soulreaper
  • 08. No Dreams Breed in Breathless Sleep