Høstsol's debut album, Länge Leve Döden, or "Long Live Death," is the otherworldly black metal masterpiece that will leave you speechless. This miraculous offering tears into you like a scythe and takes your breath away. You might think that something this grim would lead to self-defenestration, but Länge Leve Döden is so incredibly beautiful that it will make you fall in love instead.
Høstsol began in 2020 Shining's Niklas Kvarforth and Manes' Cernunnus, who respectively provided vocals and guitar on Länge Leve Döden. The duo were joined by ex-Barathrum's Kalmos on bass and his Ajattara bandmate (and ex-Shining member), drummer Rainer Tuominkanto. Considering this lineup change, it is especially fortunate that Rainer's astounding contributions not only exceeded our expectations, but also made our jaws drop. Høstsol's roster represents the very best of Nidaros, Sweden, and Finland. Länge Leve Döden was perfectly mastered by King Diamond's Andy LaRocque, who has a long collaborative relationship with Niklas.
Listeners got their first taste of Länge Leve Döden's sonic poison when "Din skördetid är nu kommen" was released on a two-song split last year with Shining. Länge Leve Döden consists of five songs that were written over the course of two wretched years. Although the album is meant to evoke the spirit of the early '90s, this instant classic sounds as if it's from another epoch entirely. Mr. Kvarforth has said the following of Filosofem: "… it's so perfect it's beyond belief. You can't believe that a human being has been capable of carving that out of nothing, it's amazing." These words involuntarily come to mind when experiencing Länge Leve Döden.
As you might expect, one of Länge Leve Döden's most lethal weapons is Niklas Kvarforth's mind-blowing vocal performance. Kvarforth's nuanced display of strength and suffering will put any classically trained thespian to shame. He's like a chthonic deity gone wild. Niklas completely rips away his human mask and exposes us to all the divine ugliness of the void within. We must note that Niklas persevered through recording despite health issues that posed an obvious challenge.
The five compositions are all rather lengthy, but they couldn't possibly be long enough to satisfy our thirst for Høstsol. This roughly 44-1/2-minute album is so mesmerizing that it flies by at lightning speed. Länge Leve Döden is accented by atmospheric touches that often feel highly cinematic. Frosty and inhuman tones flirt with warmth. The energy rises and falls in stunning waves. Relative calm and storm-like fury are masterfully juxtaposed. Although this masterpiece delivers excess in all the right places, within the context of the whole, everything is balanced; nothing is overused.
Yet, Länge Leve Döden is also spontaneous and unpredictable. Just when you think Kvarforth has worn himself out, he returns with new fire. At times, it feels that Rainer's pounding drums are assaulting Niklas himself; the brutality of this record gives you the feeling of being pelted by swords falling from the hands of dueling angels. Each track brings new sinister and delightful surprises. There are some blissful moments, such as on "Länge leve den ansiktslöse mördaren," which will eventually carry you beyond the poppy fields and into the psychopath section of the Elysian Fields. Listening to Länge Leve Döden will always feel like a different experience. One evening this album will hype you up: The next, it will give you the eerie sense of all-consuming serenity that is death itself.
Make no mistake: The highly addictive Länge Leve Döden is an insidious disease. This record will help you establish a connection to the wellspring of primordial chaos. It redefines darkness and will redefine you as well, casting a shadow over all that you thought you cherished. It's as exhilarating as jumping off a cliff for those who are ready to take the plunge.
Although Niklas claims on the opening track, "As Seen Through the Eyes of the Prophet," that "human life is worth less than nothing…" the monumental Länge Leve Döden proves that some things in life have infinite value. Länge Leve Döden was set to drop on Friday the 13th of January via The Sinister Initiative and Avantgarde Music, but it premiered a bit early online.