Talk about going into something with zero clue what to expect! DØDSKVAD are a coarse and crunchy band hailing from Norway, cooking up some underground hybrid of classic death metal with traditional leads, blackened hints, and haunting synths. I had to do a bit of digging to figure this one out, but the band name translates to “death kvad,” the latter of those words meaning something along the lines of “song.” Their debut demo titled Krønike I (translating to Chronicle I) is a healthy serving of unsettling tones with loads of attitude.
Straightforward death metal makes up the first two of the three songs. “Rike I Ruiner” (translating to Kingdom In Ruins) and “Adelråte” (some form of “decay”) could be taken right out of your ’80s death history book. There’s a very threatening kick to the riffing, boasting tones that drive attitude forward in place of melody. The vocals are monotonous, digging themselves into the mix to a level that feels cozy, adding oomph to the harsh riffing. This may not sound like a good thing, but picture everything that made Leprosy a masterpiece. Galloping leads mix with drawn-out breaks and strong solos to remain thrilling. If anything, these songs are just less in-your-face, meant to tug you down, rather blast you to pieces.
But man oh man, the third track on Krønike I is a mystery of its own. “Pakt Med Dypet” (meaning Covenant With Death) is where dungeon-like synths creep their way in from the trailing end of the previous song, dropping feelings of abandonment and rust. You’d expect something more sinister to follow, but the mood lightens up with guitar work more reminiscent to classic heavy metal acts. It’s just a teaser because, in no time, this massive eight-minute epic takes you back to the death metal depths. Black metal feelings and blasting on the drums gradually work their way into this last song, utilizing more synth to aid in transition.
Yikes! All I’m gonna say is to let DØDSKVAD settle their style in. For how unconventional to the genre it is, I found it to be quite pleasing. You’re certainly going to want a dimmer mindset, and perhaps crave something dark because there’s no returning to the surface during the entire run-time. Fluid structure isn’t a strong feature either, but at least there was enough consistent adhesive to hold it together. If you want a helping of OSDM immersed in several other dark ideas, you should strongly consider giving this your time.
Krønike I will be out on April 24th, 2020, in tape cassette format through Caligari Records. Hop over the label’s Bandcamp and pre-order yours right now, and hear the whole thing digitally ahead of its release.