Compared to the previous debut album Aurora Borealis (2006), Land of the Evening Star (2012) is characterized by an improvement in song writing, arrangements and production. The keyboards are still fundamental, although their role has been slightly reduced in favour of the guitar’s; for example in songs such as “Like Towers They Reach to the Sky”, “Vesperia” or “Bjarne Herjúlfsson ca. 985CE” the main melodies are performed by the guitars. The riffs in staccato chords against a background of keyboards are very effective, but there are parts in tremolo too; Dave also knows how to create beautiful battery tempos with the drum programming. In particular, the arrangements are very accurate. Thanks to these devices Dave has managed to create a high quality product, a tiny masterpiece: the atmosphere is epic and melodic at the same time and therefore it is very involving.
The album begins magnificently with the intro “Rediscovery of the New World” which is a crescendo of keyboards and percussions full of pathos, and once reached the climax it continues in “Like Towers They Reach to the Sky” with tremolo riffs and melodies in blast beat. These two songs are tied each other, and, in my opinion, should be regarded as a single song. This epic and engaging atmosphere recurs in all of the songs, which are all beautiful. A defect is probably constituted by the fact that that these keyboard and percussion inserts and crescendos are perhaps too many: for example there is another very similar one at the beginning of “A Few Acres of Snow“ and another one in the middle of “Hearth”, not counting “Árborg”, a 2:33 minute song, only keyboards and percussions, which sounds a bit pointless. One has the feeling that Dave exaggerates a bit and that the listen is a bit too fragmented.
The lyrics are mostly inspired by history, especially from the Viking Age. This is immediately clear from the titles of a couple of songs. In “Northmen of the New World” it seems that Dave wants to make North Americans the descendants of the Vikings.
This song contains two verses that are illustrative of Dave’s thought in this regard: “Never will we fail, always prevail / Always the true north, strong and free...”. North America was actually discovered by the Icelanders, not by Christopher Columbus as is still taught in the schools of some countries. Bjarni Herjúlfsson was the first in 986 to sight the coasts of the North American continent while trying to reach Greenland; the first European man to land there ten years later was Leif Ericsson, who called this land Vinland because of the vines that he saw there. Leif was a Christian, while Bjarni was a heathen. It is no coincidence that a song is dedicated to Bjarni, “Bjarne Herjúlfsson ca. 985CE”, which tells the story of this Icelandic explorer. “Vesperia” is about the polar star, the evening star of the album title, the compass of the ancient seafarers that probably led the men of the north to North America. “Hearth” lingers on reflections of philosophy of history; the hearth is a metaphor for the fire of history that burns within us and makes us unique: “A flame that burns is a flame that lives / And a flame that lives will guide us / Through this flame is our past secure / And only our past can define us”.
In conclusion, despite some flaws Land of the Evening Star is a beautiful epic black metal album and is a must for anyone who loves this genre.
Land of the Evening Star was released on March 8, 2012 through Bleak Art Records.
1. Rediscovery of the New World
2. Like Towers They Reach to the Sky
4. A Few Acres of Snow
6. Northmen of the New World
8. Bjarne Herjúlfsson ca. 985CE
David Parks - All Instruments, Programming, Vocals