"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Aurvandil - "Thrones" (CD)

Aurvandil - "Thrones" CD cover image

"Thrones" track listing:

1. For Whom Burnest Thou (12:45)
2. The Harvest of Betrayal (13:13)
3. Summon the Storms (19:26)
4. Ingen Lindring (16:38)

Reviewed by on April 4, 2014

"Channeling the proper atmosphere of old school black metal, Aurvandil's music will bring to mind wooded forests in the dead of night, old gods with old ways, and diabolic rituals under the stars."

Channeling the proper atmosphere of old school black metal, Aurvandil's music will bring to mind wooded forests in the dead of night, old gods with old ways, and diabolic rituals under the stars. The four mammoth tracks on the French band's second full-length “Thrones” are about as legitimately kvlt and underground as music can get in the modern digital age were nothing's really underground anymore.

“For Whom Burnest Thou” kicks the album off with crackling fire and acoustic strumming for a solid five minutes, letting you know the band doesn't mind taking its time to get somewhere. Finally the feedback reverb cranks up and the music slams into the expected black metal assault of quick drum taps, lo-fi production, and hoarse screams. As with most black metal in this style, if there's a bass player in there somewhere he's just a rumble in the background and not playing any discernible notes.

Even though there are only four tracks, “Thrones” is still nearly an hour long, with marathon tracks ranging from 13 to 19 minutes a piece, resulting in a fast paced black metal equivalent of funeral doom. If they are legitimately able to play this live, then kudos to the members of Aurvandil, because it's got to be exhausting to keep up the music's relentless pace for 13 minutes or more at a time.

While definitely satisfying for fans of the lo-fi black metal style, “Thrones” does suffer from a major flaw – all four tracks essentially do the exact same thing, in the same ways, just at different tempos. They all have acoustic strumming, then a loud crack of reverb, then slam into relentless black metal that's frankly pretty repetitive. With 19 minute wall-of-sound songs, repetition is inevitable, and in fact it's probably on purpose, meant to create a rhythmic and hypnotic effect.

The end result after a solid 50+ minutes is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the songs don't need to be nearly this long, since the same ideas get repeated over and over. On the other hand, anyone who digs black metal delivered in an old school and atmospheric way will want to hear every last minute of it.

Highs: Old school atmospheric black metal done right.

Lows: It's incredibly repetitive, both within songs and overall across tracks.

Bottom line: Although repetitive, "Thrones" successfully mixes acoustic strumming and extreme black metal for an atmospheric experience that fans of the old school, lo-fi sound will want to hear.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)