Annihilation has arrived in a mutual plague cast by THE SINISTER INITIATIVE and AVANTGARDE MUSIC, which joins prominent artists from entities including MANES, AJATTARA, and SHINING into the malignance hailed as HØSTSOL, a name aptly reflecting the bleakness perceived before imminent demise. Its claws extend to the cold beyond on this first full offering, with the Swedish title of Länge Leve Döden exalting a fatal essence, and this homage to Death embodies compositions directing new life toward black horizons. Its atmospheres and symphonies give rise to many forms, where dark elements take hold across a vicious execution, and other features are also harnessed to amplify their influence. These grim concentrations reap a prolific stature for HØSTSOL, and a merciless 2023 is heralded in the scything curse Länge Leve Döden unleashes upon our sphere.
Disembodied angelic voices evoke an ethereal aura on “As Seen Through the Eyes of the Prophet,” and bells toll amid other rising portents, which then set forth into the steady pace of a somber riff procession. An elevated melody becomes embedded in the groove, and this alluring course is like a snare for the following abyss, with notes glaring pointedly from its oppressive depths. Kvarforth alters his vocals intuitively to compound the despair, and a vehement culmination is sustained in the arrangements until fading back to ambience. Each track is similarly structured, where harsh encounters are enclosed by atmospheric areas, and they create a sense of peering beyond veils to witness the madness concealed within. These elements drift across astral and cavernous domains on “Det Som En Gång Var (Det Kommer Aldrig Igen) / What Once Was (It Will Never Be again),” and a bleak fury intensifies when blasts launch after the onset of riffing. Tremolos converge with its malign tone for an amplified disharmonic effect, and intriguing percussive strikes raise havoc during a transition marked by cold arpeggiations. Sung aural keys also haunt the energy gathering among these designs, showing the atmosphere permeates rather than being confined to their outer regions, and a break in the wrath demonstrates this fully before closure is achieved through a lingering enchantment.
Tremolos storm past the choral opening of “Länge Leve Den Ansiktslöse Mördaren / Long Live the Faceless Killer,” and a distinct anguish is prolonged in the gradual descent of their course, which is then paralleled vocally alongside the frenzy of various drum and cymbal maneuvers. This burden is augmented when clean arpeggiated strings and other atmospheric waves emerge, and an interlude highlights their progressive variations of despair while complementing the classic blackness. Such methods remain dominant with the arrival of “Din Skördetid Ӓr Nu Kommen / Your Harvest Time Has Now Come,” where a menacing tonal shift from gloom is carried in its rhythmic stride, and vocals continue amplifying the energies conjured as they escalate with cold arpeggiations reeking of death. These mark an imposing mass that expands with multiple ambient nuances, including the funereal presence of organs looming over different tremolo patterns, and an unbounded sinister potential is affirmed through arrangements dropping further toward impenetrable hostilities. A lead melody is discerned among those shadows, and the impact transfers to riffing of concentrated dissonance on “Parallellt Dubbelliv / Parallel Double Life,” with a dire fretted advance soon engaging its malignity. Elements of groove and frostbitten speed follow this strike for a last offering of dark purity, and other melodic evocations also accommodate a conclusive immersion with the empty infinity.
The darkness wages a concurring lyrical affliction, beginning with a value of “Less than nothing” appraised for human life on “As Seen Through the Eyes of the Prophet,” and disgust extends to religious designs when referencing “The despicable cosmic failures of the false prophet Jahve.” The process to tear down and purify this world is also detailed, including a decisive war to “Crown the one true king,” and creation is then remodeled after “The original faceless, formless and miraculous state of divine emptiness.” Swedish is the preferred medium going forward, with translations that suggest a continual yearning to revive past glories on “Det Som En Gång Var (Det Kommer Aldrig Igen),” and their actuality is contemplated before preparing for a dark appointment on “Länge Leve Den Ansiktslöse Mördaren.” One’s admiration for personified Death here inspires a self-contribution to its perpetual kill count, and “Din Skördetid Ӓr Nu Kommen” offers further praise to that entity, who takes angelic form while effectively reaping the end of our putrid existence. A different mentality is explored on “Parallellt Dubbelliv,” and its dual character reveals a derangement to finalize the multilayered malevolence within these verses.
This new project certainly wasn’t awaited in vain, as Länge Leve Döden satisfies a hunger for black arts with an endlessness equal to its orchestrated ambitions. The instrumental proficiency exercised within these hymns is unmistakable, and a dark vitality radiating from the songcraft inspires ongoing ventures into its realms. I imagine one complaint would involve the song structures which all begin and end with atmospheric passages, and maybe there is some validity to this criticism, but the mystique those areas emit around their heavy counterparts is also highly appreciable. They possess levels of dreadful appeal to forward a calculated progressive edge, and that substance, along with points of distinct melodic allure weaved among the menace, imbues the classic 90’s spirit with a refreshed aura. Compelling vocals and drumwork further assert HØSTSOL’s genuine convictions, and Länge Leve Döden will surely stand as one of the first mighty highlights of 2023.