Aurvandil – Yearning

Posted on June 26, 2011

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Eisenwald

7/11/2011

Upon first inspection, Aurvandil have all the trappings of a bitchin’ modern black metal horde. They’re from France, that recent hotbed of innovation in the genre. Their namesake was a giant in Nordic folklore whose frozen toe Thor broke off and placed in the sky as a star, which is, y’know, epic. And the cover art adorning their debut LP, Yearning, depicts a lone wanderer trudging through a black and white snowscape. Totally Paysage d’Hiver type stuff, which isn’t far off considering that, like Tobias Möckl’s command of that Swiss horde, mainman Aurvandil quite literally is the band. Yep, another solo BM act, a trend that far predates modern technology to find forbearers like Quorthon and Varg Vikernes struggling to maintain their cultness while grappling with a lack of Pro-Tools.

Nowadays this stuff is a lot easier to play, with more bands embracing the digital age to at least program some drums when their skills won’t cut it. Thankfully, our man here hired some dude named Wiedergaenger to finally put some humanity into his percussion section after five years by his lonesome, and boy does it pay off. “Reign of Ice II” drops punky attitude galore, with killer cymbal work all over a steady double bass foundation. Elsewhere, “End of an Age” sees Mr. Gaenger positively rocking the fuck out on a simple mid-paced pattern, only kicking into sweet blasts when He-Whom-the-Band-Is-Named-After slices off some truly psychedelic axework a lá Instinct: Decay-era Nachtmystium. Mix in an inspirational fist-shaker like “Gylfi’s Journey,” with its addictive major key riffing, distant howling and unpredictable clean section, and you’re venturing into hallowed territory here. Mopey, suicidal black metal this is not. Don’t let the mostly-one-man roster fool you; this is alive. And its early summer release date is a bummer, because that journey on the cover looks pretty damn appealing now with this as the soundtrack.

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