Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Angantyr - Hævn

Genre: Black Metal
Country: Denmark
Year: 2007
Label: Det Germanske Folket

This is one of those albums that I love so much that I have been putting off writing about it. As always with albums I feel so strongly about, I feel there's very little I can say that would do it justice, but I will give it my best shot nonetheless! Hævn is an album whose revelry in the epic is very honest and mightily profound, relying only on beautiful, haunting guitar riffs to create its gigantic, sweeping atmosphere. The melodies that pervade its generous hour and eleven minutes are gargantuan soaring hymns of fury, sorrow, triumph, and defeat. This is as good as it gets: no gimmicks, no cheeseball synthesizers, no pop melodies, nothing but one man's pure, honest vision of what great Nordic black metal should sound like. And what a vision it is! Many bands barely manage 'epic' with a full array of symphonic keyboard patches at their disposal; Angantyr pretty much defines the word with nothing but electric guitars. There are a few (read: FEW) parts where keyboards are utilized, but it's always tasteful, underpinning whatever musical idea is driving the song at the time, never taking centre stage but rather helping to flesh out the atmosphere of that particular moment. As I previously stressed, it is not often that the keys make an appearance, so this is  in no way 'symphonic'. I believe Ynleborgaz himself refers to Angantyr's music as "raw melodic black metal", and that's certainly a fitting description. Yet despite the raw feeling of the production, it's surprisingly well done: the expertly handled drums sit perfectly in the mix (yes, this is a solo project with real drums!), allowing the majestic guitar melodies to really shine through. The bass is audible but,  as should be with this type of music, is much more felt than heard. The vocals are a rasp very well suited to the style, and ride in the middle of the mix, sounding both distant and forceful. The extended cello outro at the end of album closer (and this blogger's favourite track) "Blod for Blod, Liv for Liv" is unexpected and truly moving, its beautiful, sorrowful melodies echoing in the listener's mind long after it drifts into silence. This is truly one of the best black metal albums I've ever heard, and is absolutely essential to the collection of any fan of the genre. Incredible.

For fans of Aldaaron, Windir, Odal, and Mourning Forest.

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