Iceland is fast emerging as a major power house in Scandinavian black metal, and while it has had plenty of bands boiling away under the surface, several of them are starting to burst into the forefront with a power which is reminiscent of the famous Geysir, Strokkur. Audn are one of the finest purveyors of atmospheric black metal which this ice ridden country has ejected from the barren landscapes, and they deliver to us, their second full length opus in the form of ‘Farvegir Fyrndar’.
This is 9 tracks of sheer beauty and delivers majesty and atmosphere throughout its complete 49 minutes. With every beat that is ejected from the speakers, there is a blast of iciness and grandeur which conjures up images of white snow-capped barren landscapes.
The album opens with ‘Veröld Hulinand’ with Sigurður Kjartan Pálsson showcasing powerful, pulsating beats, which are then cut right open by some delicious fretwork from Birgisson and Magnusson. The trio are joined by Gylfason who provides the backbone to their art with some of the most rigid and solid bass work seen from the small volcanic isle in a long time. The whole intro is tied together with the precision of a marching band, then on the stroke of 2:50, the band change direction with such ferocity, it could cause some severe whiplash, as the band speed up and Hjalti Sveinsson executing a manically display of raw, possessed and demonic vocals which is interwoven with interludes of beautiful rhythm and power.
Track 3, ‘Haldreipi Hugans’ slows the pace somewhat with the band opening with a beautiful mesmerising tirade of intricacy and mastery, before the demonic vocals kick in once more, although this track seems to keep pulling and pushing with the same rhythm which is seen by the tide on the famous Icelandic black beach, Reynisfjara.
‘Prisund’ and ‘Blodraud Sol’ are out and out raw black metal at its finest, yet we are also exposed to some technicality and intricacy in the form of ‘Ljósaslæður’ and ‘Eilífar Nætur’, which allow some respite from the ferocity of the all out aural onslaught this band drive into your soul with a force of satanic proportions
‘Skuggar’ again opens up slowly and allows the band to exhibit their musicianship with a rhythm which will have you nodding your head, before the vocals kick in again. Although on this one, the rhythm keeps its pace and it’s almost as if Sveinsson has to fall into line with the instruments, while still keeping his rawness and plethora of screams. It certainly conjures up the impression that the instruments have the monopoly and stronghold on this track which allows a different perspective and angle to be shone on the track.
The band close the journey with ‘Í hálmstráið held’ which blasts you from the opening chords to the closing guitar hang, and leaves you truly battered and broken. The track slow things mid song for a last chance to showcase their guitar skills, before they pick the pace straight back up again and continue the bleak journey to the bowels of hell. This band are truly hell bent on proving a point and if you are a fan of the rawer, satanic side of the black arts, this is well and truly worth a go.
(8/10 Phil Pountney)