Kvist - For Kunsten Maa Vi Evig Vike
This Norwegian troupe showed up in 94 and released one solitary full length in 1996. They are an oft overlooked band because they disbanded so quickly, but this album is pretty solid. Kvist (Norwegian for "Twig?") play a somewhat similar style to Emperor, however the production is more upfront and almost "garage" in tone, with a fair amount of keyboards mixed low. The vocals remind me of Immortal, as he is speaking more than screaming, in that "creepy troll" sort of way.
Kvist's strong point is their use of melody and keyboard-guitar interplay. "Stupet" is a nice example of this, alternating a midtempo staggered attack with soulful keyboard surges. The bass is also unusually audible, which is a nice addition along with the drums which are mixed a little hot, and very aggressive. Given the time of its release, Kvist's debut was probably regarded as just another Emperor clone, but in retrospect, most of the symphonic black metal from 96 was not nearly this well done. The blast beat sections are tight and well executed, the songs are long with plenty of variation, and the songwriting is superb, particularly for a debut.
As you delve into the black metal genre, it's important to research and know about bands that few people have heard of, it makes you more kvlt. Kvist is therefore, essential listening, and not too damn bad either. It gets a 3 of 5.