Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Vintersorg - Naturbål CD (album) cover



Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 20 years ago, Black Metal was still confined to its established codes and any attempt to merge it with other musical styles was rare because often not well perceived by its afficionados. Time passing, it was noticed that this extreme form of music, by breaking its chains, was able to give birth to many interesting things, and Vintersorg, with his last album entitled 'Naturbål', is a good example of this opening to other musical genres. We are indeed invited to dive in an unexpected blend of pop in the vein of Ultra Bra (Finnish band who used to craft catchy music with many prominent choruses), the most extreme Black Metal (martial-like as the band Axis of Advance), and elements of folk (the lyrics in swedish and instruments of traditional folk), Renaissance music and dynamics borrowed to progressive rock. Magical orchestrations, very creative and ubiquitous drums, upbeat choruses, male and female voices, blast beats with tortured "black"-oriented or more bestial "death"-oriented chant, harpsichord and instruments of a bygone age, we attend a festival of cathartic sounds within a music full of enthusiasm. The transition between upbeat and gloomy sections, or even their amalgamation, is astonishingly mastered, both worlds overlapping perfectly in a bazaar of ideas in all kinds. This was made possible not only thanks to a strong knowledge of the ranges, with vocals as convincing when they are "bestial" as when they are clean, but also thanks to unparalleled sense of tempo and musicality. One can only greet with respect so many passion spread all along the album by the artist (Vintersorg is driving almost alone his whirling merry-go-round) to share his love of musical universes that may seem unrelated to one another at first sight. The music, both dynamic and full of contrasts, could be compared to a journey full of hazards, like Orpheus in greek mythology facing sirens' chant with his enchanting voice and his lyre or leaving the world of the living to brave Hades and bring back Eurydice to his world. Fantastic landscapes alternate indeed with Hades fires in our mind. In a nutshell, a wonderful work by an artist who never ceases to delight our ears.
Report this review (#1224484)
Posted Saturday, July 26, 2014 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Naturbål' - Vintersorg (39/100)

Vintersorg is a band I would love to have been introduced to whilst I was still in the nascent years of my experience with the 'extreme' end of metal. Regardless of the era you're looking at, they've always allotted melody to surge to the forefront of their craft. The familiar warmth and Jungian nostalgia of the Viking folk style was an easy sell to me in younger years, and though clean vocals comprise the Vintersorg's characteristic lifeblood, there has always been an echo of the extreme in their music. They frequently allude to the tone and aesthetic of black metal, but never mean to grasp the common extent of the genre's extremity and abrasion. From a purely stylistic standpoint, this solo project of Borknagar's Andreas Hedlund's might fashion itself a perfect gateway to black and folk metal alike.

It is with some consternation, then, that I've had such mixed luck listening to Vintersorg. Cosmic Genesis was a fine piece of Nordic progressive metal, and Solens rötter still lingers in my memory as an excellent record by any definition. Other classic albums of theirs- namely the crowd favourite "The Focusing Blur"- I remember as being anaesthetic and generally inconsistent. The biggest disappointment however came on the coattails of Solens rötter; after a four year break, Vintersorg unveiled Jordpuls, a bland folk metal album stripped of the surprise and ambition that made the band potentially interesting in the first place. Three years and two albums later, and Vintersorg have had to get themselves out of that rut. Naturbål is an album almost entirely based around the merit of its vocal melodies, the likes of which feel sadly contrived and stale. Hints of Vintersorg's ambition and quality remain, but I'm finding it difficult to paint the album as anything but another misstep in a growing line of disappointments.

As early as Hedlund's mid-90s days with Vargatron, he's advocated for a strong presence of clean vocals in black metal. I like to imagine Naturbål was crafted with that bold stance in mind. When you stop to realize the genre of black metal has been spliced with virtually every style under the sun (hell, there's even a KFC commercial out there, capitalizing on all things grim and kvlt), it's actually quite surprising that we haven't seen more artists write black metal around clean vocals. All puritanical delusions of keeping the genre limited to its roots aside, I'd argue there could be a great case made for this choice. Vintersorg, however, is not that great case, nor is it anywhere near convincing in this regard. I've always had a bit of this problem with Vintersorg, but with Naturbål and the work since Jordpuls especially, it seems like the vocals have overwhelmed the sound, thereby marginalizing the rest of the instrumentation. Both in the uneven mixing and songwriting on Naturbål, Vintersorg have invested every hope in the vocals. The abundant folk passages are relatively full-bodied and unscathed, but the actual metal instrumentation often falls back on predictable cliche and simplicity, buried somewhere underneath the vocals.

Once again: there is nothing inherently wrong in Vintersorg's choice to have placed such weighted emphasis on he vocals themselves. It's much moreso the fact that the vocals themselves aren't particularly compelling. Andreas Hedlund's voice is admittedly pretty good in of itself. He's got a rich timbre to his voice that meshes nicely with the style, and hearing an entire album sung in the Swedish language is always a welcome exception. Although Vintersorg's black metal influence has been further marginalized on this album, Hedlund's occasional harsh snarl (close in sound to Grutle Kjellson of Enslaved) is fairly strong as well. My internal debate still rages as to whether Hedlund's clean singing voice is truly strong enough to be worth an entire album's showcasing, but the real problem with Naturbål has to do with the songwriting itself. Listening to the album, I feel a hazy recollection of my consistent ambivalence for the two albums that came before Naturbål. The album is saturated with upbeat vocal melody upon melody, but the hooks are rarely ever memorable. "Själ i flamma" closes the album with some strong melodic writing, but most of the songs blend together into an uneven mess. In most cases of this marginal success with hooks, a band would fall back on their instrumentation. Sadly, with the unbalanced, vocal-centric way Vintersorg have written and recorded Naturbål robs it of that opportunity.

Vintersorg isn't so far down the path that they're beyond the merit of redemption, but this is the third time in a row I've been let down. Even from a technical standpoint, Naturbål sounds downright mucky and amateurish compared to Solens rötter. The songwriting is dry and lacks dynamic, and the stylistic drift appears intent on reducing the band to the status of a less catchy Tyr. To add insult to injury, Andreas Hedlund is indeed a good songwriter- probably better than most within the folk metal sector- but I'm not hearing much evidence of that. My apathy for post-2007 Vintersorg has only been consolidated with Naturbål. For what it's worth, I hope we see a change someday.

Report this review (#1262016)
Posted Thursday, August 28, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Vintersorg is a metal band around the Swedish metal musician Andreas Hedlund. He has been around for a while making records but this was the first one to came to my knowledge. Since its start "Vintersorg" has released nine studio albums. Three of them are mostly in English but he mainly sings in Swedish, which is great. It's actually a peferable language if you have an origin like his. "Naturbål" then came 2014 and features Andreas Hedlund who plays bass, guitars and keyboards and sings and Mattias Marklund who plays guitars. Together they have created a different sounding record that gives a music lover like me a lot to enjoy.

The music is heavy as metal uses to be, but not too heavy. All the time, it's driven by folk inspired melodies and mystic lyrics which seem taken from the folk world. It's very melodic music and I guess this is an album that could grow for me. The reason why I don't give it four stars is that I don't like growl. It's a lot of growl, but a lot of normal singing as well, but growl allways destroys according to me. However was this a fresh and interesting album for me that perhaps open new doors to the metal world. Many songs on the record are very good such as "Elddraken" (The fire dragon) which has a hypnotic text(8/10) and the whirling "Ur aska och sot" which should catch the interest(8/10). "Överallt och ingenstans"(7/10) and "Natten visste vad skymningen såg"(7/10) are also tracks I recommend. The others are good as well. My average rating ends at 3.28 which makes it a solid three star record which though has intentions upwards.

Report this review (#1299350)
Posted Saturday, November 1, 2014 | Review Permalink

VINTERSORG Naturbål ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of VINTERSORG Naturbål

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.