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For Kunsten Maa Vi Evig Vike (1996)

Released in January 1996, For Kunsten Maa Vi Evig Vike is the sole full-length album from the Norwegian black metal band Kvist. This is a fairly typical record, for the time period, though that is not to say that it is without its share of memorable moments. It never reaches the same heights as bands like Burzum or Darkthrone, but resides more comfortably alongside groups like Emperor and Satyricon. Though the music does not rely on it heavily, the synth has a strong presence on this album and this can be tiresome at times.

The production of this record does not play to its strengths enough, as the guitar melodies are often buried in the mix and not as dominant as they should be. Oftentimes, the drumming becomes distracting, especially the unnecessary double-bass. Similarly, the keyboard passages are too loud and this has a detrimental effect on the overall product. The vocals are right about where they should be, neither too high nor too low. Though the guitars are not high enough, it is not to the extent where they are rendered useless, so the sound of the album is still enjoyable, just not what it could have been.

The music is not very distinctive. It never strays too far from what most other second and third-tier Norwegian bands were doing, at the time. Some parts are reminiscent of Gorgoroth while others call to mind Satyricon. The vocals do not do much to lessen this impression, as Tomas's voice is not too dissimilar from Satyr's, particularly on Nemesis Divina. The synth is overbearing, at times, but the guitar melodies are actually strong enough to carry the material on their own. There is a lot of variation regarding the tempo and structure. This is not one-dimensional, in any way. There are no songs that just maintain a steady pace all the way through. Each one has several twists and turns, which actually works against the band, on occasion. Of course, the album is constructed on a foundation of tremolo riffs, some more memorable than others. The highlight of For Kunsten Maa Vi Evig Vike is the final track, "Vettenetter", a song that possesses several interesting guitar melodies that haunt your mind long after the record ends. As well, the synth is kept to a minimum, which allows the band to show what they are capable of, with only the traditional instruments.

This album is certainly worth checking out, despite its flaws. It is unfortunate that Kvist did not stick around long enough to record a follow-up to this, as they may have been able to work on their shortcomings and realize the potential that is shown here. Either that or they may have simply turned into yet another pathetic symphonic black metal band with ultra-slick production and modern songwriting. There is no way to tell, but it may be that the band is better off having disappeared into the foggy night.
(27 Oct. 2011)

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