RASPBERRY BULBS' He Who Crushes Teeth on Ildjarn's 'Strength And Anger'
Ildjarn is an act refinement.
At an early point in the history of the genre, Ildjarn already sought out to distill the components of black metal into its most basic elements. All of ildjarn's releases perform a very similar function: they draw upon an extremely limited array of primal elements that compose a black metal song. Strict rhythms, strict production quality, strict tonality. What is most surprising about his work is that he was able to create such a diverse set of songs from such a limited means. It speaks of the strength of focus. Even the lifespan of the band had a strict limit on it, or in Ildjarn's words, "I stopped playing music when my 4-track broke." To most ears all of Ildjarn is crude, and to most all of his music sounds the same, however once you are fully immersed into his vocabulary of motifs you can see the band progressed effectively over his discography of demos and albums. For me personally, his 4-track broke at just the right moment, right after the pinnacle of his creative abilities which manifested as the 'Strength and Anger' album.
When I first heard Ildjarn (in the form of 'Forest Poetry') I did not connect with the music. It was a new low for me and merely sounded like a completely distorted version of a 'Transylvanian Hunger' with the main reference being the mid-paced black metal blast drum beat. It took me a while to come back to it, try again, and again and finally start to notice the differences in the songs. It was a process, or a personal enlightenment and something kept bringing me back. It was like slowly the rough gray skin on the outside was becoming translucent and now I could see the blood pumping, flesh, the different organs - this entire universe that was so ripe and inspired. It was one of the first times where listening had become an accomplishment. No longer did I hear the surface of static and pounding, and now I heard the 'Strength' the 'Anger', the raw beauty of his music, and it was only through this long process that I could achieve such a sense of satisfaction in listening.
There was always something very 'punk' or 'rock n roll' or just 'musical' about Ildjarn. Simple chords moving around, there was something recognizable about it, but he also managed to maintain the mysterious ether of black metal hovering within the music. What makes 'Strength and Anger' his finest work is that it's his most 'un-rock' or 'un-punk' release he ever did, he somehow was able to strip all points of reference and just forge this intensely primal surge of Pure music. An extreme example of this is how the first track of Strength and Anger is simply one chord played at the rhythm of the sturdy Ildjarn blast, yet the song does not feel incomplete whatsoever.
In terms of, again, having to listen through the surface to find the song underneath, no album rewards in the process as much as 'Strength and Anger' does. The music of the album is so simple and (supposedly) so simply recorded yet it is so dense and detailed. The good songs on S&A are actually two songs layered, the best songs are three songs or more layered together. The more you listen to it the more you hear other voices speaking out to you. Depending upon your mood you might notice the subtle drop in the drum beat or the buried guitar lead, or how the bass pulls apart from the guitar and creates its own separate rhythm as the chorus, or an almost indiscernible keyboard track amidst all the instruments. It is a very personal album in that every person will hear it differently.
I don't think Ildjarn is a genius in the typical sense of the word, but rather he had the 'spirit'. He was an inspired man whose instincts were spot on and lead him to make all the right choices in making this album. It naturally came together into the rich set of songs that it is, and I still can't find anything wrong with it. Even the two minimalist noise/drone tracks at the end are palette cleansing perfection and the fact he repeats the exact same song as Part 4 (w/ vocals) and Part 15 (w/o) and that it took me years to notice is some kind of major achievement in hypnosis.
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