Debut album by this Swedish mob. They have alumni from the 90s black metal scene in ex-members of Vinterland and early Maze Of Torment, they did a split with Shining in 2013 and they have coaxed guest appearances from Shining’s Niklas Kvarforth, Helheim’s V’gandr and Taake’s Hoest. So far, so supergroup?
Thankfully Alfahanne are a million miles from the banal, turgid stuff that black metal and supergroup usually combine to make. What we have here is actually, shockingly pretty darned original. Alfahanne have a sound that combines black metal style guitar riffs with barked punk vocals and a feel and atmosphere that flirts with goth. Imagine Refused and pre-major label AFI in grim eyed conversation with Immortal and Slegest and looking like a cross between Danzig, Supersuckers and Misfits. Imagine it.
Yes, it takes some doing. Even when you hear it. And that, my friends, is the initial difficulty here. Their sound is complete, seamless and not being sung in English utterly impenetrable to me for many initial listenings. So why persevere? We’ll firstly it’s my job. If I can’t be arsed to do that I shouldn’t be here. Secondly you just know this lot are worth it: From the opening of ‘Bättre Dar’ (excellent guest vocals from Niklas Kvarforth) with its haunting, lilting riff it simply reeks of class, and an aggressive, dark melancholy. ‘Ormar Af Satan ‘ keeps things mid paced but there is a harder edge here, a great riff jangling and surging throughout. ‘Såld På Mörkret’ slows things a touch, a nod to a heavier bass and Hoest guesting and if any track is straight black metal apart from the vocals this is it. The magnificent ‘Dödskult’ though is a goth flecked punk number that has a vocal attack that so reminds me of Refused but with a song that is far removed to the realms of darker things and riff hooks that just cling forever. ‘Rocken Dör’ goes the whole goth punk hog with a bass led riff, echoing backing vocals and a writhing edgy guitar sound. And then ‘Syndarnas Flod’ is back to a punked up Immortal style cascade riff. ‘Indiehora’ is V’gandr’s guest spot, a bit of almost gang vocal style and a drum heavy, bouncing riff that sounds like the kind of thing an army would chant before battle (no, not a clue what it’s about) and it is yet another emotional, hook laden song.
Just because I had no idea what they are singing about (death and Satan seem to get a good airing though) it took me far longer to get into this than it should have, or far longer than it will take for most of you, but you feel like an idiot when it clicks because this is, to a track, catchy as.. er… Hell. There is no reason not to get this from the off. With a good but unspectacular production it hides behind nothing. It is what it is, and that is classy, catchy, energetic and engaging. A melting pot of black metal heavy, goth tinged punk death rock.
It’s like handling the Lament Configuration: Looks beautiful, hard to get into but when you do… It opens so smoothly, there’s hooks everywhere and all Hell breaks loose.