Stilla – Till Stilla Falla

3 out of 5

Label: Nordvis

Produced by: Stilla?

I still can’t tell you much about black metal.  I own what Hydra Head has put out, and was intrigued enough to look into some bits and pieces elsewhere, but the group that primarily stuck with me was Bergraven, and they very much seem to be outliers of the scene – a bit more of a traditional hardcore variety; a bit more experimental.

Bergraven led me to the label Nordvis, which has a ton of worthwhile stuff, but I still have trouble differentiating between most of it.  Stilla is linked to Bergraven both by label – Nordvis – and Par Stille, who’s guitars here and guitars / vocals there, and some more recent Stilla material really blew my mind, expanding on the more out-there track of Bergraven, but melded with more – what I’d consider – ‘traditional’ black metal riffage.

On their first release, it’s less of the more, and about the same amount of the latter.  Nordvis is where it’s at, again, but I’ll admit that without knowledge of that later sound, this would likely fall into the same sort of sounds-alike-but-interesting pile of acts on the label.  Which is definitely my failing, and not that band’s: every review I’ve read (generally rather positive) cites Darkthrone, and bands the other members of this group came from, as influences, and I’m sure with a wider spread of genre experience, I could maybe say something similar.  Alas, I’m stuck at newbie level, at which a good swath of Till Stilla Falla has that drum-thumping, rabbit’s-pace riffing, with swirly, snowy keys and an impressive (and intelligible) growl / speak from vocalist Andreas Pettersson.  When tracks stick to the 5-6 minute range, which only happens a couple times here, the work is quite beautiful (relatively speaking), and its breakdowns – when bass and guitars and keys travel off the pummeling path – are transcendent.  Elsewhere, we do get spots of acoustic instrumentation and vocal shifts that hint at more experimentation, but these moments get lost in the 7+ minute tracks, as the chugga-chugging goes on rather extensively.

Which isn’t boring, it should be said, and is surprisingly engaging – but more in a trance-like state, standing in the cold and staring at the bleak beyond, if I may dig in to some generic black metal imagery.

As I have the fortune of more releases to explore after this, and knowledge of some things to come, Till Stilla Falla rates as a noteworthy first step in a catalogue, but to the untrained ear – i.e. mine – it also can quite often sound like any given act in the same scene.