Nothing is more difficult for a reviewer and more offensive to a band than assessing an album as ‘OK’. On their fourth album, Norway’s Iskald have decided to focus on longer songs and more atmosphere. As is common with such elusively uninspiring albums, the execution is flawless, the sound is crisp and massive, everything is in place and all the black metal boxes are ticked, which is precisely where the problem begins.
The epic tracks are not actually epic so much as camouflaged with the components most often associated with ‘epicness’. Even more confusingly, Iskald are obviously not going through the motions; Nedom og Nord feels sincere, passionate and fired up.
Yet the songs meander on tediously, blurring into one another without any engaging internal dynamics to suggest any higher reasoning at work, and the final effect of all the aforementioned properly ticked boxes is simply banal, because it is this ‘correctness’ of delivery that makes Iskald followers not leaders, extras rather than protagonists.