A few years ago, yours truly had the pleasure of reviewing the sophomore offering entitled Livlaus (which translates to “lifeless”) by the Norwegian black metal act that is Orkan, and I distinctly recall how stately and well-crafted the aforementioned record came across the very first time I immersed myself in it back in 2015. It sounded incredibly confident and utterly focused, and the quality of the song material spoke volumes about the combined talents of the group. Thanks to its majestic and sweeping soundscapes, its haunting melodies, and the rather bleak lyrics in their native language, Orkan’s first output made an indelible impression on this writer.
As stunning as Livlaus and its six compositions were, the record was also full of potential and hinted at even greater things to come, and when their third album named Element was unleashed upon the unsuspecting masses in 2018, it immediately became clear that the four-piece had sharpened their steel and spawned an LP so massive-sounding and passionate that it was capable of moving mountains.
Orkan hails from the west coast of Norway and includes members from such interesting acts as Syrach, Kraków, and Taake among others. Although it would be easy to make comparisons and draw parallels between this outfit and relatively similar bands ala Mistur, Cor Scorpii, Kampfar, and the aforementioned Taake, there is nothing remotely derivative about Orkan’s brand of exalted metal. Perhaps the group’s greatest strength is its ability to lean towards traditional, epic-sounding Norwegian black metal without getting stuck in the stereotypical trappings of said genre. Certain parts and passages may seem deceptively simple at first, but there are countless shades and nuances in play throughout as well as a myriad of subtle twists and turns that will make your head spin and have you coming back for more. Nowhere is this more evident than on Element where melodically rich, cleverly arranged, and brooding pieces such as ‘Avmakt’ and ‘Lenker’ will leave you gasping for breath. In short, these skilled purveyors of Scandinavian darkness have carved out a musical identity of their own. Anyone who has caught the ensemble live on one of their European tours or perhaps witnessed a gig in their native country of Norway will most likely tell you that these guys have a firm grasp of conjuring up a thick, blackened soundscape on stage that ranges from strangely beautiful to wonderfully unsettling.
Even though Orkan is neither a brand-new act nor an upcoming band as such, the high caliber of their discography speaks for itself, and their outstanding tunes certainly deserve a wider audience. Should you find yourself yearning for evocative, bone-chilling metal from the vile pit of the underground, look no further than Orkan and especially the wildly underrated and spirited opus that is Element. On a final note, both Livlaus and Element are out via Dark Essence Records.