Aurvandil
Thrones  

Eisenwald 2014

It appears I can't seem to get out of France when it comes to my reviews lately.  But with a band that plays with the coldness and the quality of Aurvandil, I may never want to leave.  Elegant and folky acoustic guitar slowly treads across barren landscapes as From Who Burnest Though begins.  The pace of the acoustic guitar quickens and chant-like vocals rise against the subtle pounding of deep drums.  A plodding black metal rhythm overtakes the song and sets the stage for blasting isolationist riffs to sweep across the song's fabric.  The track is infused with a freezing atmosphere that hearkens back to the intense Nordic gods of the past though not explicitly copying their style.  The Harvest Of Betrayal is a frigid maelstrom of intense near-melodic riffing.  The initial eruption of blackened speed is severed by an acoustic passage and quickly reverts to the hyper blasts of inhospitable coldness.  The nearly 19 minute long Summon The Storms has beautiful and tragic feeling acoustic guitar as its initial segment and I am reminded of some of the work on Immortal's Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism.  Of course this is soon swept aside by coarse, icy black metal.  Chilling leads streak across the framework of the song like a distant, nostalgic wind.  The speed and intensity increase and a repetitive, hypnotic riff imbeds itself within your conscious mind.  About half way through the song the pace slows and a bouncy rhythm settles in, and then is quickly cast aside in favor of blinding near-melodies.  We are almost stunned when the track shifts to a sparse drum, acoustic strumming and feedback as the only instrumentation.  The final track, Ingin Lindren, continues with the pattern of beginning with acoustic guitar to flood the song with atmosphere before your ears are overwhelmed by an overpowering surge of frostbitten destruction.  The sheer velocity of the flowing riffs is mesmerizing in the way the riffs gently sway.  Aurvandil took me by surprise with their sophomore album.  It's possibly the best black metal release to come out of France in quite some time.  The whole mood of the album is one of pure solitude and wintery desolation.