I’ve never been to Iceland, but a lot of my friends have. From what I’ve been told, it’s a beautiful, picturesque country that gets in your head and makes you feel like you’re in a dream. That makes some sense when you hear the country’s brand of black metal. I know the music is supposed to be ugly and violent, but so much of the Icelandic brand arrests the heart.
That trend continues with AUƉN, another wise signing from Season of Mist and one that feels apropos coming to us right now. It feels like a fog is covering this entire record, one that enraptures you, tricks you, perhaps enlightens you. Maybe it really is their homeland, but black metal from this region always sounds interesting and emotionally invested, not always paying mind to violence and morbidity but instead using the style to expand their dream world. This band very much is the same, which they prove on their sprawling, powerful second record “Farvegir Fyrndar,” the follow-up to their 2014, self-titled debut. The band—vocalist Hjalti Sveinsson, guitarists Aðalsteinn Magnússon and Andri Björn Birgisson, bassist Hjálmar Gylfason and drummer Sigurður Kjartan Pálsson—creates sounds that should make your blood and mind soar, with their deep, spacious energy powering these nine songs forcefully.
“Veröld Hulin” begins with drums rumbling and clean guitars trickling before the eruption comes and sends rock and debris everywhere. The song takes on a Primordial feel, which is a great thing, as raspy growls, heavy atmosphere, and even some speed come into play. The clouds lower and get thicker, while strong soloing cuts in, and the song grinds out. “Lífvana Jörð” sounds like a black metal flood as it starts, with growls gashing, the drums crushing, and melodies ripping like a hurricane. A gazey fog hovers over the chorus, while the front holds up and saturates the ground. “Haldreipi Hugans” is like a cold, dreary morning before the tempo kicks into gear, and the shrieks begin to devastate. Heavy emotion plays a major role, but then things get chilly and aggravated. Out of the cold, wrenching growls chew into flesh, while the song blows apart, colors pour, and there’s a thunderous end. “Prísund” is a sound gush, as guitars begin to smear, and the growls come in hard. The music is compelling and huge, with the song kicking into high gear, raw howls carving, and the track blasting away.
“Ljósaslæður” has a drizzling, frosty beginning before the ground ruptures, and the band pounds the earth. Growls rip open gaping wounds, while the savagery meets up with a driving rain, and the intensity is applied in thick layers. The back end of the song is a monstrous display, leading toward “Blóðrauð Sól” and its glorious collection of riffs. Deeper growls give a meatier edge, while blood and violence spread, the guitars rouse the emotions, and the track comes to a sudden, bristling end. “Eilífar Nætur” starts like so many others, in a frigid gaze that reaches out its arms, letting the song blow up in your face. The music starts to destroy, while the growls sink in its teeth and gnaw away. A gazey deluge floods over, pouring toward a tidal wave of guitars and a gigantic finish. “Skuggar” spits energy, as the growls engorge, and the music overwhelms the senses. The music here is huge, with a heaving heart, and the song twists and contorts your senses as you writhe on the ground. Closer “Í Hálmstráið Held” has a relentless start, as melodies blister, the blood rushes, and the growls inflict pain. The massive assault eventually eases, while the journey approaches a trudging fog, settling into serenity. But that’s not for long. The song rages back to life, the band unleashes every ounce of their humanity, and the blazing continues until it finally fades into the background.
AUƉN provide even more promise from the Icelandic black metal scene, and “Farvegir Fyrndar” is a massive introduction to the band for newcomers, and a rousing new serving for those who have followed the entire path. The song rushes with atmospheric glory and dark emotions, and the music here is smothering and fiery. They do their homeland proud and prove that they can be one of the most formidable bands Iceland has produced the past few years.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/audnofficial/
To buy the album, go here (North America): https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/
Or here (International): https://shop.season-of-mist.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/