The Finnish one-man-band Dødkvlt released its debut album, entitled "I," in 2010 - logically, "II" is its follow-up. The album was released simultaneously with the band's split with Goats of Doom.
Lord Theynian, the sole band member, has improved his skills a lot since the debut album, and seems to have gone closer to finding the unique style and characteristics for Dødkvlt. The guitar work mixes progressive and heavy metal together with more traditional tremolos and other black metal-styled riffs, and they present variation from almost doomy and otherwise atmospheric moments to violent beating and catchy melodies. The guitars are clearly in the leading role, whereas the piano-synths are now mostly employed as an occasional provider of melody and a dose of melancholy. There are a few more traditional synth-backed bits as well, but they're not overused. Drums are served programmed, as they were earlier as well, but deliver good and tastefully programmed fills. The vocals are raw shrieks, growls and gnarls, and they deliver the lyrics in a surprisingly audible manner.
The album lasts for close to an hour, if you don't count the 14-minute bonus track. It's a long while, for sure, but the package stays well together for the whole lenght due to the songs' catchy bits being balanced by their violent moments, and the artist's overall good sense of style. There's enough contrast for the album to stay interesting, but the amount of variation doesn't stick out in a bad manner at all. The album has a good stylistic flow as well; the opening song is a brisk Christ-killing anthem (a fitting description for the highly appealing "Verenhimo" as well) that reveals the artist's appreciation for rocking riffs, its follower is a heavier and more strictly rhythmic one, song three is a slow one, and after it we get to violence once again. The songs are rather lenghty and hold a good dose of variation within their own progress as well, so the listener's interest should be well upkept. The album's eight-minute closing tune resembles "Mitt Epitaf" from the band's debut with its electronic drum beats and minimalistic build-up, but the artist has learned to employ these elements to a greater effect as well.
Most of the album's problems come from the chosen sounds. The bass guitar lacks force and clarity, and is too easy to disregard. The electric guitar has a decent clean sound which has a good amount of power, but this clarity eats away a lot of the riffs' depth and detail, which, in the end, flattens the songs. The soundscape is surprisingly professional, but it doesn't hold enough contrasts and doesn't allow any of the instruments to really shine when the spotlight hits them. The soundscape suits the catchiest parts and solos, but also makes the album softer and more planar than it should. The drums are a part of this same problem; they have good patterns, as mentioned earlier, but their sound is too hollow. They aren't able to give the songs the extra kick they'd need, and don't manage to amplify the faster parts as would be needed.
The album holds no lyrics and it's a shame, but they're somewhat easy to decipher if you're willing to give them attention. They're rather simplistic and focus around hate, despair and antichristian declarations, but their delivery and arrangements give them a lot of additional potency. As the digipack holds no booklet, there's not much to say about the visual side other than it's almost non-existant. The cover image was a good pick, or at least it made me curious on what the album would sound like, and it stands out from the mass. Otherwise the artist could give more attention to his visual delivery as well.
"II" is a higly recommendable album if you enjoy good riffs, progressive metal and black metal. It could've used some truncation, a rougher and more lively soundscape, and a real drummer if it were to reach its full potential, but is pleasing this way as well. The artist has clearly evolved since his last album, so I'm very curious to hear if he'll be able to keep up this developement in the future as well.