Norway has never been known for being an exponent of death metal, barring the early contributions of Darkthrone and the parent bands to some of the greatest black metal groups to emerge from the country. The brainchild of Borknagar main songwriter Øystein Garnes Brun, Molested was a brief flash in the pan before the mediocrity of Borknagar would define his career.
Taking from the Swedish style, Molested sought to integrate the rawness and the long minor key melodies of black metal into death metal song form. The insanity of the compositions coupled with the raw savagery conceal the beauty hidden within this forgotten classic.
Atypical production cuts off the low end of the guitar and the drums, giving a lot of room both in the higher and lower frequencies while the bass is audible due to its fairly loud volume. The vocals take a more whispered black metal approach in terms of volume but with the deep Finnish bellow and almost sound burped like Demilich’s Anti Boman. The guitars take the European approach of very fluid melodies constantly leading into each other with few interruptions or breaks.
These melodies consist of tremolo picked single notes played at impressive speeds. The music is cadenced with very few rhythmic flourishes. One of the elements that can destabilize even experienced listeners is the sheer quantity of tempo changes that happen at first without any rhyme or reason but eventually make sense later throughout the song. Blod-Draum is full of “clanky” transitions that only make sense later on during the compositions. Also of note is the strong number of folk elements that appear during these compositions in various forms.
Each composition usually begins with a melody that will introduce the piece before shifting into the song’s central motif. From the central motif the band will lead into quite a few tremolo picked melodies before slowing down for either one of the previous melodies that is supplemented with folk instruments or a slow progression of power chords that will then slowly build tension before exploding into a previous set of riffs that will lead the song back to the central motif before exploding into a grand climax.
A combination of the death metal tradition of allowing a handful of riffs to lead to a large number of riffs occasionally mixed with the black metal tradition of making these transitions as discreet as possible despite the sudden tempo changes. The riffs tend to be repeated very few times which contributes to the nauseating effect of this music as it bring further into its world as everything keeps progressing just as quickly as the riffs. The aforementioned “clanky” transitions can disturb the listener but the band is aware of this and the riff succeeding the transition tends to be repeated at least four times to draw back the listener into the music at times.
At times it seems that Molested seek to shock their listeners in the vein of modern metal bands as seen on “Following the Growls” which is known for its completely folk middle section that fits with the rest of the piece in theme but not quite in continuity. As most of the riffs on this element are composed like Black metal melodies with a large palette of notes contained within the natural minor scale and complemented with notes from the harmonic, melodic minor scales and a small dose of chromatic notes.
This approach to note selection keeps these melodies within a consonant nature, Molested can then use the folk instruments to remain in key but they tend to play very simple melodies that are not always directly related to the previous melodies. As soon as the “interlude” in the middle of the composition is over, the band return in full force to build tension towards one of the greater climaxes in the history of metal. The penultimate melody is just as majestic as it is technically pompous. A truly great achievement in the genre.
The eponymous piece on this album abandons the guitars and metal songwriting as the drums blast away in time with an orchestration comprised of a few traditional instruments including a variant of a didgeridoo and bagpipes. This marks a cut in the style of composition but retains the feeling of this album so well without having to worry about coherence between the folk instruments and the distorted guitars. At times these folk instruments can appear alongside the guitars by highlighting the chord progression as do the brief instances of lead guitar that come into play here.
Molested have more ideas on this album than most bands will ever develop during their lifetime. So many brilliant ideas are never full explored as they quickly be ushered out so that new ideas may emerge. On “Forlorn as a Mist of Grief” There are two elements that are not seen elsewhere on the album but which the band exploits well. First being the long arpeggiated that appears twice here. It flows so well from the tremolo picked melodies and expresses longing and melancholy so aptly.
The band could have used this principle of constructing long arpeggiated melodies from the rich chord progressions that form the basis of their music. The second being the use of the noisy bend that accompanies the previous melody so well in just hinting at a single note with playing a melody on top. By hinting towards a particular note during a melody, Molested can then impose a certain feeling or sensation to be taken from the melody. A few times the guitars stop to allow the bass brief bursts of melody like Suffocation did but adapted for the purpose of the music. A lot of the melodies that the bass plays don’t echo the root note of the guitar but during the madness of the music one has to pay attention to the bassist as he tends to enrich the guitar melodies incredibly well and at times can draw away from the purpose of each composition.
Despite the incredibly large number of ideas condensed into this record that may be repulsive, Blod-Draum is in no shape or form a riff salad. Though the sometimes forced shifts between different parts betray this band that had far too many ideas for their own good. Had the band split their ideas into two or three focused albums, Molested could have been the greatest band of all time yet that is not the case and Blod-Draum still remains a grand obscure classic that deserves the persistence to unlock all of its secrets.