Hermódr creates black metal that blurs the line between what is grotesque and what is elegant. This double-EP opens with “A Place of Eternal Twilight,” which starts with a nostalgic synth that for some reason appears to carry an eighties retro edge with it. The song is a bit more uplifting than previous works (see the ultra-maudlin What Once Was Beautiful for a crystal-clear example), and is more similar to Lustre in atmosphere, who never quite caught on with me. At nearly twenty minutes in duration, A Place of Eternal Twilight/Carved in Ice‘s use of repetitive riffs and ponderous atmosphere is somehow intriguing, although I am never quite sure how I feel about it. A chant at the end brings the song to a close, finalizing a piece that hung heavily in the air.
“Carved in Ice” begins with a moving combination of notes and a riff that could bring the most hardened souls to their knees. It truly reveals how beautiful the genre can be, and while we can go back and forth about whether or not black metal should be aesthetically pleasing, the immensity of this side of the EP is the size of the glacier in its artwork. The powerful vocals only add to the intensity as the guitar slowly seduces its audience closer towards the abyss that stands between despair and awe. “I Watch it Burn” is a bit more traditionally cut than the surrounding tracks. Anders Leo‘s vocals are wretched, perfectly matching the somber tones of the synths and the slowly plodding riff that leads you into the depths of reverie. I’ve been following this prolific artist for several years now, and each release that I’m actually able to get my hands on never fails to surprise me or keep my attention.
Through a slow crawl and an emotionally powerful vocal performance, both of these EPs reveal the triumphant despair that is Hermódr. I can honestly say that Leo and his music are able to stand out from the mob of other black metal artists that he so clearly resembles. This is more than Burzum chapter 3,701; A Place of Eternal Twilight/Carved in Ice is a unique and intense vision that reveals its inspiration from others while retaining its identity. As melancholic as it may be, there is a certain beauty to it that only some would understand. If it turns out that you’re one of those rare and lucky few, then both EPs will likely speak to you like few artists can.