Friday, September 6, 2013

Ereb Altor - Fire Meets Ice

Ereb Altor, a Swedish Viking metal band founded about ten years ago, released their fourth album a little over a month ago. I've finally started to feel like writing some new reviews, so I decided to give it a whirl.

"Fire Meets Ice" is a 55-minute slab of the type of northern fantasy that I personally love. There are plenty of clean chants and background keyboard atmospherics, so the cheese police should be on full alert for this one. I find that I rather like cheese, though, so long as it's kept relatively tasteful. I believe that it is, in this instance. There's a good balance between the heavier, more aggressive black metal portions and the sweeping Viking flavor. It never gets truly hostile, but it never becomes toothless, either. Ereb Altor are basically just another band wandering along the same frozen northern path that Bathory cut through the ice and rock over 20 years ago, which isn't much of a surprise since even the album title sounds like one Bathory would use, but to be fair there's only so far you can stray and still be considered Viking metal. That's not to say that they sound just like Bathory, but they clearly follow the formula.

There's honestly not much else to say about this record. It has clean sung acoustic passages that sound good and serve mostly as intros or outros, like most Viking metal bands have. There are blackened, slow-moving guitar riffs and non-existent bass lines, just like with most Viking metal bands. Keyboards crop up in the background (and foreground) to add atmosphere, like they do in most Viking metal. The drums are functional but basically forgettable, again like in most Viking metal.

Really, this album is just a checklist of all the things a record in this vein is "supposed" to have. Admittedly all these things are done well, and in the end it all sounds good. I enjoyed listening to this. That said, it played so terribly safe on every front that "Fire Meets Ice" just blends into the background alongside all the other good but unspectacular Viking metal records Scandinavia has produced over the years.

Grade: B

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