Askrinn: Hjørleifsljóð

Askrinn - Hjørleifsljóð album coverI don’t know how I came across Askrinn, it may have been on Twitter or somewhere similar, it seems a long way away from the 80s and 90s when my life revolved around scrappy flyers bundled in with tapes traded from all over. With the instantaneous gratification we get these days it is still rewarding to find something refreshing.

Askrinn – meaning ‘the Ash tree’ in Old Norse, deal in harsh cold sounding barren and bleak pagan black metal. And I do like the aesthetic developments in this scene how album covers now depict cold eerie landscapes as opposed to goats heads dribbling blood.

And this one starts off setting its stall out right from the off, Askrinn will take no prisoners. This piece is influenced by an Icelandic saga ‘Halfssaga’ and I found this of particular interest as I was in Iceland earlier this year, a pilgrimage I had promised myself for many years and enjoyed the country very much.

The tunes have frenetic guitar, constant pounding drums and lots of cymbals as de rigueur of bleak black metal. The vocals are on the money, with the hag-like witchery telling the saga story of Hjørleif and his travels and adventures.

Track 2 ‘Hjørleifr mægðist við Hreiðar konung’ gives us a little respite with some very pleasant acoustic guitar finger picking which only works to amplify the main meat of the track as the fast, frenetic urgency takes over.

Track 3 ‘Frá spám marmennils’ gets in to a bit of a rhythmic groove, even includes an acoustic breakdown midway, allowing the vocals to come far forward in to the mix, including some good rolling R’s!!

Askrinn use the acoustic interludes well to frame the pounding pagan metal and complete the album with ‘Hymn to the Forgotten Pagan Gods’ by Hungarian pagan metal band Bornholm.

The stand –out track for me is ‘Frá spám marmennils’, the album is harsh, and is different to what I normally listen to, but a change is as good as a rest, and it has rekindled my teenage interest in this sub-genre!

Label: Independent
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/14/2014
Band info: Facebook

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