Windir

Valfar, Ein Windir [2cd]

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In what surely stands as one of the cruelest cases of life imitating art in recent memory, Windir leader Terje "Valfar" Bakken died under circumstances eerily similar to the stories frequently recounted in his songs: frozen from exposure while hiking in the wilds of his native Norway. That his former bandmates took it upon themselves to honor his memory with 2004's career-capping release, Valfar, Ein Windir, is thus testament not only to the man's popularity, but his commitment to his craft. It's also an absolute treat for Windir fans and Scandinavian heavy metal enthusiasts in general, being part tribute album and part collection of odds and sods drawn from various stages of the group's decade-long existence. First up are four 2004 studio recordings performed by Windir's surviving members: three of them originally set for an album that will now sadly never be completed (including the wonderfully eccentric symphonic thrasher "Stridsmann") and one being Valfar's first-ever composition for his group, the surprisingly strong, mostly instrumental "Dans Pa Stemmehaugen." Next are five Windir covers performed by artists as distinct as avant-garde black metal soulmates Enslaved, folk-metal party animals Finntroll, techno-house raver E-Head, gentle acoustic players Weh, and the maniacally vicious Notodden All Stars (an improvised black metal supergroup comprised of Cosmocrator, Samoth, Trym, and Invictus). Then it's on to a pair of live recordings from 2003, the first album epic "Svartasmeden Og Lundamyrstrollet" and the final album masterpiece "Blodssvik," before concluding with a couple of rarities from 1995's Sognariket demo -- Windir's first recording. Candlelight Records' version of Valfar, Ein Windir ends here, and really does so with no complaints, but fans wishing to sample a second disc's worth of "greatest hits" should seek out the Tabu Recordings form of this release. Whether they pick one or the other, lovers of extreme but inventive heavy metal simply cannot go wrong with Windir's legacy -- RIP Valfar.

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