This is a throne I have sat on before as previous album ‘Yearning’ and EP ‘Ferd’ found their way to me and caught my attention a few years ago. Aurvandil are a duo from Normandy France and take their name from a giant in Norse mythology. On describing previous work the words, thundering, mountainous and glacial were used and there is no real deviation from that here. If anything musician / vocalist Aurvandil (this time joined by a new drummer Fog) has expanded his songs into more of a mountainous might with four long compositions stretching between 10 and 19 minutes.
Opener ‘For Whom Burnest Thou’ lulls into a real false sense of security as it starts gently with acoustic folk like parts and Viking sounding croons with the spirit of Bathory flowing through them. It builds and soothes you before taking you completely out of any comfort zone you have found yourself in and battering away with the drums at an unrelenting pace that does simply not let up in the slightest. Along with these come scything guitars matching the pace and indignant vocal rasps and yells from the singer. It rattles away at a whopping and furious pace before suddenly settling into some clean chants at climax. Momentarily later the next all-consuming number ‘The Harvest Of Treachery’ comes at you and similarly batters away thankfully allowing a slight catch of breath with some slower shimmering parts amidst the rape and pillaging, feudal cleave of things.
There are a couple of problems I have here, the songs are a bit one dimensional with just a constant assault about them with very few moments where they take their foot off the pedal and over such long lengths things quickly get on the monotonous side leaving me somewhat hungering for some more of those folky interludes. The other problem is the recording that I am faced with. I guess it could sound better on disc but as far as playing it as an MP3 via computer speakers it totally lacks with the obliterating blur of the drums and whir of the guitars, lacking any decent sound definition in the mix. Basically speaking, what I feel like is Scotty on the Enterprise delivering one of his “warp factor nine, they simply cannae take it captain’ speeches. I guess if you are looking for a classic sound from demo tape trading days when cassettes of lldjarn and the likes were doing the rounds this is going to give you a feel of authenticity about it. ‘Summon The Storms’ after an initial brooding cloud burst soaks you in a repetitive deluge where you can’t even make the all important thunder and lightning out through the incessant lashing rain. It does so for an uncomfortable 20 minutes too and frankly I had enough after 5.
Any past assaults on the throne for all their good intentions unfortunately see Aurvandil deposed here and as much as I wanted to enjoy this I found it a repetitive and murky listening experience.
(5.5/10 Pete Woods)