Norway’s Posthum takes clear inspiration from the sparse, frozen environs of their home. The band formed in isolation in 2004 and spent their first five years purposely outside of the metal community, choosing instead to facilitate their own sound without outside influences.
That’s not to say that Posthum accomplishes anything all that different with Lights Out, their second album. As the follow-up to 2009’s self-titled debut, it’s safe to say that the trio has learned from experiences like a European tour with Satyricon and Shining and a spot at the Under the Black Sun Festival in Germany.
Comprised of Jon Kristian Skare (vocal, bass, guitar), Martin Wasa Olsen (bass, guitar) and Morten Edseth (drums), Posthum takes its name from a term that means “after exitus.” This keeps the band grounded in the mission of creating some form of sonic certification, some evidence of their existence after they depart from this planet.
As ambitious as Posthum seems, Lights Out only reflects their determination in small doses.
The blast-beat charged “Untame” starts the album on the right foot, introducing a sparse arrangement with well-placed vocals and plodding, insistent guitars. The track feels covered in ice.
The bulk of Lights Out tumbles into samey territory, however, and Posthum’s devotion to Norwegian black metal clichés can prove tiresome by the album’s middle point. Despite some promising chording (“Red”) and even a touch of garage rock (“Absence”), the record only flirts with contrasting elements and generally sticks with sub-zero gloom.
Luckily, Lights Out ends strong with “Afterglow” and the title track. The former, an instrumental featuring moody keys and some ambient traces, lays the foundation for the tone-shifting “Lights Out” and the band astutely calls on recurrent themes to close on a high note.
Lights Out is a well-made recording, but it isn’t an innovative entry. With other acts from their compatriots to choose from, like the sharp and grotesque NettleCarrier, it’s hard to make the case for what Posthum has to offer. Their second album is a typical, repetitive effort – save for a couple of sustaining interventions – and that just isn’t good enough.