Windir Likferd

Windir’s fourth album starts off like a threatening thundercloud — ominous and brooding — and though the mood lifts at times, that dark threat lurks throughout. The band’s native Norwegian village influenced the lyrics on Likferd and provided a model for the 150-year-old painting used as cover art. Speed reigns for most of the record, accentuated by slower passages, classical-inspired guitar leads, and atmospheric synth, with a little clean vocal work thrown in. But beneath all the flourishing "symphonic” touches, Likferd is still black metal all through. It’s dirty and gritty without getting muddy, and each track leaves you hungering for the next. Just when a song seems in danger of going off track, the band throws something else in to keep you hooked. Windir balance the point between the extremes of black metal and the ear candy of melody remarkably well, and Likferd seems to make more sense with each listen. (VME)