Listening to a good album is like going on a road trip, and I mean this in as serious and critical a way as possible. Album’s take you on a 30-60 minute journey from a point of introduction to one of aesthetic conclusion. If the album is coherent, and well-crafted, you will feel like something has been accomplished; some aesthetic dialectic concluded. An album could feel like a walk through a park or a drive up the pacific coast; or an album, like The Word as Power, could feel like leaving your hometown for the first time in your life so you can destroy the one ring of power in a volcano some 1,000 miles away. A journey you will take by foot, without shoes. That is how massive and daunting the new album from Lustmord feels, and that is how totemic and indivisible it will remain in the minds of those who choose to embark on its pilgrimage.
The Word as Power plays out something like a soundtrack to mystic events, but anyone who refuses to see beyond it as such isn’t getting the big picture. Rather than act as a backup soundtrack to Valhalla Rising, the abysmal electronic wails of The Word as Power create vision out of sound. The ghastly foghorns and demonic vocal harmonies of “Babel” lash out in vivid ritual as you flail against the song’s underlying murk. “Chorazin” drags you along the parapets of an ancient castle, its denizens preparing for battle with a monumental forest. For an album so dark as The Word as Power, there is an immense amount of light and color, due in no small part to the contributions of singer Aina Skinnes Olsen.
It is difficult to compare The Word as Power to other albums, as its accomplishments are not so tangible as a killer hook, an inventive chord progression, or a memorable lyric. This is an album whose meaning must be decided upon by each person who listens to it. Much as we might use a similar sounding piece of music to soundtrack an epic film, the listener must use their surroundings, their emotional state, and their imagination to “scenetrack” The Word as Power. Experience will vary, and it will morph; hard work is required and you would be forgiven for skipping a 75 minute album that could provide very little reward for your time. For some, though, a masterpiece lies hidden in the murk.