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Artist: Lengsel 
Label: Solid State Records
Length: 8 tracks/43:23

It's strange that Tooth and Nail is signing these Norwegian imports to their Solid State hardcore imprint, first Extol and now, Lengsel (obviously, the fact that the guitarist/ vocalist for Lengsel is also the bassist for Extol had something to do with it). Let's hope T&N head honcho Brandon Ebel continues to be true to his metal roots--he used to work for Frontline, Napalm Death was listed as
one of his fave bands on the T&N site once--and pick up these quality acts for hungry American fans.

Lengsel is just as sonically dense as Extol, but with more black metal and less death and '80s thrash riffs. To most music listeners, even unsuspecting Solid State hardcore fans, this will sound like untalented noise, but it's very intricate, busy music with more musical precision in each song than most bands could dream of accomplishing. The amount and speed of the compositions overwhelms the senses and causes untrained ears to perceive a steel wall of chaotic noise rather than a carefully groomed hedge with beautiful flowers, thick branches, leaves, and wicked thorns.

Like many black and death metal bands these days, Lengsel relies much on melody, which makes them much more accessible than black metal can be. Subdued keyboards slide underneath the distortion and provide atmosphere. Impossibly gorgeous, simultaneously rich and delicate acoustic passages punctuate the storm of sound on occasion; if Lengsel ever made a full acoustic album, it would be the most beautiful one ever heard. Hopefully they'll follow the example of bands like Opeth and incorporate longer mellow sections into their future compositions.

The vocals thankfully stay away from the typical shrieks and gurgles, sticking to a mid-range rasp that's about as easy on the ears as black metal vocals get. Occasional normal singing is in keeping with the relative variety that marks the album.

Lengsel's lyrics are poetic and intelligent, if a little oddly phrased from time to time due to the English-as-second-language factor. The strain of seeking faith among a faithless people is the main thrust of their songs. "Revival" goes:

Weakened I dry out the faith 
and then kiss its forehead 
uncertain slavering
Then, in "Hours":

If man is sane, then I am not 
In these hours it is a blessing, 
embracing insanity  I am not one of them 
And I can hear the screaming 
They are screaming at me desperately

Lengsel is one of those albums that grows and grows on you, delivering up new treats to the ears with each new listen. They sound like dozens of other European black metal bands, but among those with Christian lyrics, this is the best I've heard (better than Antestor or Kekal). 

Josh Spencer   8/27/2000


Josh Spencer, contributing senior associate editor for The Phantom Tollbooth for over two years, is also publisher and editor-in-chief of spiritual pop culture webzine Stranger Things.  Reviews and articles by him are usually simultaneously published in some form at



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