As much as I love Scotland, we are unfortunately a country severely lacking in quality black metal bands, instead we are inundated with bands playing what can only be described as classic rock. Hop on over to Norway, and things are a little different, with black metal being something of a normality. Lucky bastards. As such, it takes a lot to really raise to the top in such an overly saturated field, yet the one-man black metal project Minneriket has managed to do so. Minneriket is fronted solely by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Stein Akslen, who’s tireless work has led to four full-length releases under the Minneriket name, with the most recent album, Anima Sola, releasing earlier this year.
Anima Sola is in no way a happy album. It is full of harsh, screeching vocals, atonal guitar riffs mashed with other musical instruments, undercut by wildly fast drumbeats, held together by themes of chaos and madness. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, utterly fantastic.
Over the years, black metal has become softer, more mainstream, and easier on the ear until it reached a point where it is now no longer black metal at all; something else masquerading under a false title. Minneriket is nothing like those other bands, with Asken clearly drawing influence from the second wave of black metal, Mayhem and the eternally controversial Burzum in particular.
“Alle Hjerter Banker Ei” (not all hearts beat) was the final single to come from Anima Sola, a track which is described as being “romantic black metal”. This immediately becomes clear when considering the title of the single. The track is in no way a standard lovey-dovey romantic song, instead being a slog of chanted vocals and repeated guitar riffs; a deliberate counter to contemporary romance.
For those like myself that seek some truly intense black metal, something which will chill you to your very soul, then Minneriket is certainly the band for you. When listening, you will find it hard to believe that such a band did not rise to prominence (or notoriety) with the likes of Bathory and early Darkthrone.
Anima Sola is out now and is available to buy here.