Review by Ben for Ved Buens Ende..... - Written in Waters (1995)
Stunning, creative and disturbing. Written in Waters is an essential piece of music for anyone openminded.
Written in Waters is not the type of album you can listen to just once, then make a judgement. It's so unique and creative that it takes a few times through just to come to grips with. All the members of this band would go on to take part in other wonderful black metal projects such as <code>, Arcturus and Dodheimsgard, and it's clearly apparent by looking at that list of bands alone, that these guys are simply not happy to restrict their musical ambitions to genre norms. But Ved Buens Ende would have to be the strangest entity of them all and possibly the most cherished (along with Arcturus), building up a huge bunch of dedicated fans despite only ever releasing one full length album. To be honest, it's all we ever needed, and I personally don't see how they could ever have topped what they produced here.
This is not easy music to describe. It's undoubtedly black metal at times, but then very far from it at others. Singular, discordant chords are combined with snaking, transfixing bass lines, perfectly executed and highly creative percussion and crooning, haunting vocals. There's a huge emphasis on the bass during the slower parts, which gives the whole thing a very un-black metal sound (think jazz). But then somehow it doesn't seem out of place when the black metal sections kick in. There's something rather disturbing and morbid about even the lightest of pieces on Written in Waters, which is why I think even the most hardened black metal fan can still appreciate the eclecticism on show here. I can't rave on enough about the musicianship by all involved. Each instrument (including the vocals) is played in an adventurous, experimental way, yet the band managed a subtlety that avoids so many "avant-garde" creations.
Despite all this creativity, Written in Waters hardly puts a foot wrong. I must admit that third track It's Magic doesn't quite achieve what it's going for, but all the other 8 tracks are stunning. Highlights are I Sang for the Swans, You That May Wither, Den Saakaldte and Carrier of Wounds. Written in Waters is one of those albums that makes us metalheads extremely proud. When the inexperienced out there attack the music we are so passionate about for being one dimensional or aggressive nonsense (and many try to do so), we can relax with the knowledge that bands like Ved Buens Ende (along with so many others) have produced immensely intelligent and ground-breaking music that's comparable to anything else out there. If you've experienced and found joy in artists such as Fleurety and Arcturus, Ved Buens Ende should be an essential part of your collection.