Fornhem from Sweden have released their full length Debut “Ett Fjarran Kall” (A Call from Afar) and thus entered the Black/Folk fray. With only four tracks and the album clocking in at 46 minutes this is an album to be indulged rather than blasted through.
Vafthrudner and Solbane inject plenty of old school Black Metal into each track so fans of early Darkthrone and Burzum will be very happy (or happily unhappy and grim). The influences do not stop there as there is plenty of folk and even straight up hard rock in the mix.
Opener “Kosmisk Dvala” blasts out Transylvanian Hunger era dark atmospheres before changing to a plodding pub rock 4/4 beat as it fades. Reading that back it appears that would be horrible – it isn’t. Fornhem state in interviews that they like to explore music and take their time, repeating riffs to elicit a hypnotic feel. In that way there is a lot in common with Doom/Sludge and Shoegaze in here even though this is none more Norse rather than green thumbed.
“Urdjupets Svarta“ is so Viking it rampages out of the speakers and I feel the need to check if the missus is ok in the house. The use of folk elements is not overbearing and there is no hint of “Hey nonny nonny” – Morris and Molly men beware. These guys obviously dig their dear departed countryman Quorthorn and do a good job of melding together both eras of Bathory here. The straight rock drums return behind some razor like riffing and continue to work, if anything making the guitar lines seem brighter and more METAL! The ending is beautifully repetitive, hypnotically so. I have read other critics who have felt the songs are too long and the repetition dulls the message. The repetition IS the message! The title track that follows is a great lesson in this. It takes me back to the first time I heard “Under the Sign of the Black Mark”. The sense of foreboding and dread that builds is gigantic.
The tunesome twosome end their opus with “Fornhem” – a track to help the most hirsute Northmen row across choppy water. Even the drum beat would help with the pull. Well until the tempo change – then you’d better hope you’ve had your Weetabix (other cereals are available).
Fornhem have released an epic debut that allows the listener to wallow in the textures and riffs and lose oneself in a metallic flotation chamber that may also contain Vikings.
(7/10 Matt Mason)