It’s like the start of another fantasy series that forgot to get inventive with the title. Fire and Ice may be recalling days past and calling on old gods, but it is certainly no half mastered project. Sharing their entire lineup, Ereb Altor is the side project to Swedish based band Isole. This could explain why despite forming in 2003, we saw so little of the band up to their first studio release in 2008. While releases from Isole have been in decline, Ereb Altor has suddenly taking new life, celebrating ten years together as a band with the release of their forth studio album this year with Fire Meets Ice (Napalm Records).
One noticeable difference right from the start is the lack of Bathory influence running through this album. Although it is not completely absent, and some songs still run strong with hints of Hammerheart or Twighlight of the Gods, earlier work such as first album By Honour could easily be passed up as a simple Bathory copy or tribute songs, while Fire Meets Ice is a very different beast. Sharing many of the parts between them, Mats and Ragnar are able to switch the sound from intense tremolo guitars and harsh vocals, to sudden moment of ethereal vocals and mournful guitars in a matter of moments. Their sound on this album is definitely blacker than anything the band has explored before, but rather than breaking out the pits of hell and raising the undead, it blends in and adds a layer of bleak determination and grim hardship.
Unlike other bands dominating the folk and Viking metal genre, they always maintain a distinctly mournful, somber tone throughout the album, never breaking into anything that resembles a catchy riff or jig. Their message is simple; this is fantasy for those that like it desolate. There are no warm nostalgic memories of battle or songs of favour from the old gods. The world is burning, ravaged by fire and ice, and this is the anthem of a new age. This is Viking metal at its very finest.