Black metal of today is more and more about trends. There are feuds that spread through social media and people start taking sides. There are rules of what is allowed – of what is cool and what is not and these things keep on changing. As soon as somebody creates something exceptional and groundbreaking it becomes a “movement” and in a year or two a full bandwagon comes rolling down the sonic highway, everybody onboard claiming to have a life-long dedication to the thing. Black metal is obviously no longer a genre born to break the rules. Hell no. It seems to be mainly creating them instead. Then again, this is the way with life and music. Things change and the pendulum swings, like it or not.
Fortunately, there are still occasional exceptions to the rule too. Now and then comes a band that obviously does not give that famous rats arse of what one is supposed to do or sound like. Seid from Stockholm is one of those faith restoring units that defy the modern day black metal stereotype. Everything they do declares independent thinking and attitude. They are proud to disconnect and they actually even mean it. Main figure Seidr – along with his brothers in arms, drummer Arant and bass player Alex (also in Craft) – follows his vision of a sound and approach in black metal as he goes. With the backwoody atmosphere of Hammerheart-era Bathory present and that early 90’s Norwegian black metal sound of all things joyless and dry audible onboard, he has the guidelines set for a somewhat timeless goal. It makes his music a modern picture of bygone times, more or less.
Still, none of these influences alone make Seid that highly independent or original band we spoke earlier on. It is the performance and the sound that really underline it for me. Their new record Ulv sounds like an album that could not care less of what is going on in the musical map of the globe in year of 2019. The sound consists of sandpaper-like guitars, harsh, semi-screamed growls and riffs that are not exactly catchy, but strangely mesmerizing instead. Ulv (wolf in Swedish) is a record that will hypnotize you, if you give it a chance to do it. Ulv uses none of the flashy productional tricks to shake you awake, though. No choirs nor chants, no bombastic drums, or hooded semi-mysticism. The album just is, whether you care or not. Wolves seldom care of anyone else’s opinions anyways. When you think of it, Seid of today sound a lot like Helheim could have sounded, if had not taken as progressive routings as they have done since their vehement first albums.
Fans of bands such as Mork will find plenty in songs like Spider in the Web of Urd and Odal Lands. Dedicated followers of more epic, yet not overtly bombastic folkish metal will adore A Gift to Wanderer or Magnum Tenebris Die Conversion, or title-track Ulv in similar fashion. Shamanic outro of Visa Från Wotanmyra closes the album in a fitting fashion and makes you realize the fact that 35 minutes of the remaining album have already passed almost in a sneaky fahion.
The album is a huge step up from the previous Seid release Darkness Shall Fall, which I really liked a lot too. Those early Cradle of Filth-esque moments often audible in the past have gone now totally absent and the result is therefore way more serious in sound. So, to cut the long story short: Ulv is an misanthropically meditative collection of nature mysticism oriented black metal from the Northern twilight and like the animal in it’s title, it pretty much wanders the paths of it’s own in the wilderness of marginal. And therein lies the magic of it too.