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Servants of Sorcery (1994)

Fimbulwinter was a lesser-known Norwegian black metal band that may be most notable for including Skoll (later of Arcturus) and Shagrath (later of Dimmu Borgir) in the line-up. The band's one and only full-length album, Servants of Sorcery, was released in 1994 but actually consists of material that was recorded during a 1992 rehearsal and previously available on cassette.

As would be expected of a rehearsal tape, the sound quality is very poor. Of course, the necro production suits the primitive style of music that is played here and most of the instruments are clear enough to be comprehended. The vocals suffer more than anything else, though Necronos (very imaginative name) may not have been a very good vocalist anyway. The mix favours the guitars, thankfully, which is as it should be. Luckily, the drums are not overpowering, as is often the case with rehearsals.

Musically, this is everything that one would anticipate from an album that features a guy in corpse paint wearing a Darkthrone t-shirt. This is raw, primitive black metal that utilizes a lot of mid-paced riffs that alternate with tremolo melodies, with standard vocals and an overall ugly vibe. The songwriting shows obvious influences from the aforementioned band, as well as Celtic Frost and even a little Bathory. The former's presence is almost felt more in a way that is filtered through Darkthrone's interpretation; i.e. more derivative of their Celtic Frost-styled riffs than the original band, themselves. These type of riffs are present throughout the album, appearing in every song. Of course, their cover version of "Morbid Tales" should be evidence enough of their prime influence, with even the vocal approach being a strong imitation of Tom Warrior, rather than the typical Second Wave vocal style employed on the rest of the album.

Servants of Sorcery is pretty good, for what it is. While this recording could have been better, there are no huge flaws that detract from the record. The fact the songs came from a 1992 rehearsal tape also lower any expectations that one may have when coming in, but the end result is not too far behind Emperor's Wrath of the Tyrant, in terms of sound quality. It is surprising that anyone lame enough to be involved with trash like Dimmu Borgir and Arcturus could have ever played in a band like Fimbulwinter. At any rate, anyone into raw and primitive black metal should give this a listen.
(12 Oct. 2011)

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