Field transmissions from someplace cold, desolate and uncaring are what appear to make up Fimbulvetr,the first full-length recording from Horders, an oblique one-man operation that appears averse to overtly public identities. All I can say for sure is that the shadowy figure behind Horders is also the shadowy figure behind the art/graphic design imprints Give Up and Sisster, making Horders, then, the musical wing of Give Up, since both are essentially the same one-man operation and Give Up’s iconic wolf jaws pyramid logo is starkly emblazoned across the front cover of Fimbulvetr.
The starkness and viscerally bleak nature of Give Up’s work resonates throughout Fimbulvetr, as does their staunchly ‘no computers’ approach to graphic design. The sounds herein sound ragged, unprocessed, often just plain raw – the blistering lo-fi guitar and drum sludgefest that opens the album, ‘World Without End‘, the subsequent ‘Gallery Of Plague’ andthe driving chainsaw chug of ‘War Lust’ could be straight off of a bedroom black metal recording…albeit with a large degree more musical and compositional nous than the average black-clad, nail-bedecked, embittered teenage South-American.
Elsewhere Fimbulvetr throws up muffled-yet-scathing noise that morphs into beautifully downbeat acoustic guitar-lead melancholia, on ‘South Of The River’, ‘Feral’ and ‘Icarian’, adding distinctly evil harmonised lead guitar to the mix on ‘Gateway’, ‘Lantana’, ‘In Theater, In State’ and ‘Kings‘ – also the only track to feature clearly heard vocals, an insinuating ghostly whisper – static-scrubbed dour piano on ‘Destiny’ andfinallycloser ‘Rotten Hell’ uses what sounds like found-sound field-recordings atop the guitars and atmospherics.
There is a feeling of intimacy to the sounds on Fimbulvetr, yet also a distance, an alienation, between the warm organics of the close-miked acoustic guitar that makes up the main body of most of the tracks and the iciness of the electric guitars, abrasive electronics and treatments that blow through the whole recording. But, this damaged organic feel is mirrored in the art and graphic design of Give Up too, giving a sense of synergy to both projects and further feeding the idea of Horders being another branch of Give Up, with Give Up itself functioning as a central trunk. The links between the two are clear and aesthetically valid.
With ‘World Without End’ standing as a sentinel to hold back the wary and turn back the casual listener, Fimbulvetr can be an initially imposing listen, but once past the harsher aesthetics of the opener, a darkly rewarding recording emerges. Striking to the ear and to the eye, Horders have put forth a true work of art into the world and it ought to be appreciated by all with ears to hear. The listener will have much to gain in not giving up.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson