Atmospheric black metal is not my usual choice when listening to the black metal genre, with my preference leaning more towards the aggressive forms. But ever so often there comes a band from such a genre that manages to catch my attention, first with this year's release by Falls of Rauros and their folk-influenced black metal. Aurvandil
this year releases their debut album Yearning
after a large number of demos, splits and EPs over the past 5 years and it seems that the French are capable of coming up with all sorts of alternative forms of black metal, what with bands like Alcest
As per most other atmospheric black metal albums, the usage of acoustic guitars are aplenty, along with the usual elements of traditional black metal. The album is broken up into 9 different parts, but they might as well have been joined together into one long epic track. Opening song Yearning
- Prelude introduces listeners to a soothing and calming melody, with acoustic guitars and slow, easy drums that make the music sound more like it were out of an ambient album rather than a black metal album. End
of an Age introduces listener to the style of Aurvandil
proper as they break into a black metal section without wasting any time, complete with the vocals of band mastermind Aurvandil
, sounding like a deeper version of Sargeist
's Hoath. The music though still retaining the fundamental characteristics of black metal, is written with melodies that are so soothing that it can instantaneously charm listeners and makes for an easy listening experience.
The mixing of the instruments on the album are also extremely fitting, with the lead guitars and the drums sounding very distant, creating a wide soundstage/soundscape on most of the tracks, such as on Reign
of Ice I, giving listeners some kind of epic feeling, the very type that one gets from looking out into an epic landscape, with a mixture of excitement and a sense of calmness at the same time. Various effects are also used on the vocals, such as the echo effects on Reign
of Ice I, giving the songs a somewhat primitive yet natural touch, sounding as if the vocals were recorded in a cave (or at least a room with lots of reverb).
Acoustic guitars, as already mentioned, are also constantly utilised on the album, at times taking the role of the lead instrument such as on Walking - Interlude, and at other times intertwining with the distorted guitars creating a surprisingly coherent and complementary effect. There is a certain urgency in the drums though, with the quick hand and footwork of drummer Wiedergaenger and this stands in stark contrast from the rest of the instruments on the album. Despite
the impression so far, tt is not all serenity as I Summon Scorn
brings in the other face Aurvandil
, the doom-laden, destructive face that almost leaves listeners feeling dreadful, almost like the fear of not being able to see the sun rise ever again, with the emotional and almost mournful lead guitar lines and heavy riffs. Fret not though, as all becomes peaceful once again as the track ends with an acoustic guitar outro, bringing order back once more with Reign
of Ice II.
The epicness in the music at times brings to mind comparisons with other bands of similar genres such as Summoning
, sounding like a fitting tribute to Tolkien's novels with the fantasy/nature worship music and the long tracks somehow pass in an instant with one easily losing all sense of time in the music. Writing long songs like these are already not simple tasks in itself, writing 3 songs that run in excess of 9 minutes yet captivating the listener for every single moment is surely proof of Aurvandil
's songwiting capabilities. Throughout the album as well, there is a noticeable absence of synths and keys, with the band able to bring out the suitable atmosphere and emotions through the brilliant usage of the various instruments and the compositions, and this only further serves to display the thought that has been put in when writing the music.
is certainly a good representative of Aurvandil
's works, and if you liked recent releases by bands such as Falls of Rauros, this album is sure to stay in your CD player for days at ends, and is the perfect companion for long walks through a snowy/icy landscape.