Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Skagos - Ást

Do you ever listen to an album and after your first listen you feel like you know it really well? I find this happening to me when an album fills a void for me. Or completes a connection, and makes a next logical step in the progression of a certain marriage of styles or atmospheres. I feel familiar at these times because I feel familiar with what I want to happen, what I need a band to deliver. I always need it until I find it.

Whether you like them or not, Wolves in the Throne Room is making an influence. I'm not 100% confident saying that Skagos is hugely influenced by Wolves, but that Skagos takes many of the same elements and influences and has recorded the next logical step beyond that which Wolves in the Throne Room perfected.

Skagos has big riffs. Big, huge, churning, long, traveling kinda riffs, but they come in many different types. This album's charm though not uncommon, is the use of ebb and flow. Riffs drift and build and are harmonized upon and build rhythmically as the percussion also fantastically builds the repeating riffs until they soar and pick up tempo. All of the instrumentation is used magically to achieve this effect. Clean choral type vocals, bongos, acoustic guitar, killer bass playing, you name it, its all present and totally ruling. This band along with a growing number of cohorts (including Velnias) among the youthful genre employ a familiar style based on this technique: establishing a simple power chord or note that is often returned to and built off of for most of the song. For me this can be likened to the strong choral elements of the first Ulver album. This may not sound like anything all that original in black metal and I'm not saying it is extremely so, but I find its a strong tendency and a thing I like a lot about this album.

Overall "Ast" is an exciting mark of birth upon a genre that I hope I never get sick of. If the fact that Skagos' members just graduated high school in May is any indication, there is a bright future for these gents, though I'm afraid to report that after two forthcoming splits or so and a full length Skagos will cease to exist as reported on their page.

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