North Black are a Russian one-man outfit by Asmodeus (Svart Faalskhet). With Filosofi Svart Skog, North Black bring sixty six minutes of Symphonic Black Metal that totally lacks of originality, but believe me if I assure you that the fan of this specific genre will adore this piece!
Filosofi Svart Skog brings eight lengthy (the songs last in between six and eleven minutes) compositions that have everything this sub-genre needs: lots of variety (I’ll come back to that in a minute), an appropriate sound quality (idem ditto, see one of the next paragraphs), and an atmosphere that has everything not to dislike (once again: more comment immediately). Where will I start?
The easy part is the production / mix. There might be a little remark to make, for there seems to be some background noise (‘sonic snow’), but actually, the unpolished and rough finalisation fits, for it makes the result even denser, rawer, darker. I miss the bass lines, and sometimes the heavier, more chaotic excerpts sound too mish-mash’y. But it’s not that this album sounds as if it were recorded in a moist cellar or a rusty container. I guess Asmodeus did his duties in his home studio, and actually the result is quite interesting. The sharp-edged, emery paper-production fits to this kind of aural malignancy; it’s that simple.
The atmosphere then… Well, it’s very oppressive, angry, malicious, and at the same time pretty epic too. There are lots of orchestral and bombastic passages (and so I am talking about the variation too), which show glimpses of both arrogance and intellect (a marriage that does fit for sure, I say!), but they are at least as pretentious as the faster, more aggressive parts. And since the diversification of the execution seems to enter this part of the review, there’s no reason not to express my respect for the combination of a very cohesive result at the one hand, and that variation at the other. To go further with the diversity, I can also mention the speed, the extremes of heaviness and ambience, and so on. But there is a clear line, an expressive vision (often the advantage of one-man projects, of course). Each track has its own character, but there’s no doubt one single person did create these compositions, or did canalise his vision.
The more intense, aggressive parts have quite some elements that might refer to the older releases done by Last Episode (back then I did define this specific trend as Alpine Orchestral Black and something), but there’s no reason not to mention Northern Silence too, for example, or, evidently, Vacula Productions themselves. Also Summoning, Shadowcaster (Tornekrone Tordenvaer!), early Emperor, Mysticum, Astarium, enfin, you get the picture, I guess… Orchestrations and mysticism, hints of experiment and roots of tradition, it’s all part of this haunting game. And we have a winner!
Seriously, this is nice-smelling shit that will satisfy anyone who likes his blackened material bombastic and orchestral, and still grim and obscure!