There’s something about Iceland that’s producing quite a number of impressive black metal bands. From Zhrine through to Solstafir, the vast amount of atmospheric, trance-inducing black metal coming from there is nothing short of inspirational. Hveragerði’s Auðn constructed themselves a respectable following with their self-titled debut back in 2014, blending bits of Primordial‘s folkier approach to their music. With Farvegir Fyrndar, the five-piece aims to broaden their scope, simultaneously crafting a denser atmosphere while retaining their ferocity when the situation demands. How successful are they in achieving such a lofty goal?

It starts off on a promising note with “Veröld Hulin,” with a jangly, almost-Primordial opening salvo of tribal drums and chord arpeggios, and like their Irish counterparts, they take their time repeating said salvo until you end up bobbing along, entering a trance-like state. Almost three minutes in, we see the band baring their fangs and digging in, with tremolo melodies, blasts, and vocalist Hjalti Sveinsson howling in his native tongue. The song fluctuates between blackened savagery and melodic tranquility, with the flow of the natural and organic, like witnessing a serene change of seasons unfolding. Auðn impresses early on, and like fellow country-mates Dynfari, their command of atmosphere is impeccable.

The careful balance of discordance and tranquility highlights Farvegir Fyrndar‘s strengths. Eight-minute album highlight “Haldreipi Hugans” weaves in and out of blackened tropes and more headier, interesting passages with relative ease and expert writing, make eight minutes feel like less. Those moments elevate Farvegir Fyrndar above their contemporaries, but a few things are holding the album back. For starters, as the songs progress, a sense of familiarity creeps in, blending songs and motifs together. While there are no bad moments on here, the repetitious nature of the album begins to rear its ugly head, with most of the album just passing by. Only on closer “Í Hálmstráið Held” does the aggression make its welcome return. Not helping things is Sveinsson’s delivery. Again, not a bad vocalist by any stretch, but he remains in one mode throughout the album’s entirety, relying only on shrieks and mid-range howls. While not horrible, it makes an album with little variety feel a bit tedious at times.

But the worst crime is levied against the production. The guitars sound beautiful when entering states of calmness, but when the tremolo kicks in, the guitars become a smothered wall of noise. The drums also become lifeless and stale, which is a damn shame as Sigurður Kjartan Pálsson plays his ass off during the various fills and flourishes across the album’s duration. Sadly, Hjálmar Gylfason’s (Dynfari) bass is practically non-existent, making an appearance here and there. With music this densely layered, you want every instrument to breathe and take life, not constrict it until all essence is choked out of it.

I wanted to love Farvegir Fyrndar more than I actually did, as all the ingredients are there. At the same time, though, I don’t hate it, either. When Farvegir Fyrndar is good, it paints a colorful portrait of their country’s serene backdrop and gorgeous weather. But more often than not, I find myself wanting a bit more from it.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: audnofficial.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/audnofficial
Releases Worldwide: November 10th, 2017

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  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    “But more often than not, I find myself wanting a bit more from it.”

    .

    – –THATS WHUT SHE SAID

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      DIRTY

    • Name’s Dalton

      This comment originated in Spain.

  • Eldritch Elitist

    Man, I love Season of Mist, but they have an awful habit of taking fantastic examples of guitar layering and crowding them unnecessarily close together in the mix. The Great Old Ones, Der Weg einer Freiheit, Cloak, and now Auðn… And that’s just this year! Let the guitars BREATHE, dammit!

    • Frost15

      Totally nailed it. They should send the producer your comment.

    • Christian Krüger

      tbh I really like the mix on EOD. To me that’s exactly that muddy “oceanic” feel, that reflects the Lovecraftian theme

    • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

      Is all this from the same producer/studio?

    • That is my one complaint against the last Great Old Ones gem. I fucking love that album, but Lovecraft damn it it’s a stifling mix, far more so than can be chalked up to a desired effect.

    • GrumpDumpus

      THEY AUDN GET A DIFFERENT PRODUCER

    • Simbod

      What…? Yes, Auðn mix is really bad, but Der Weg einer Freiheit’s “Finisterre” has a fantastic, transparent, yet powerful and atmospheric high quality mix. And I think The Great Old Ones’ mix is part of the feeling they wanted to created. I understand why people don’t like it, but it’s technically well-crafted and I really enjoy it. No comparison to Auðn, where the mix is just not well done.

  • Thatguy

    I guess it must be the crappy quality of what they send you to review, but I have to be the boring old pedant again. I am listening to this on Bandcamp as I write and I can hear the bass loud and clear on all the tracks I have sampled so far.

    I sounds fine.

    It gives me a lot more than it gave you, Grymm.

    • Ondřej Hanus

      I absolutely agree…

    • Antorus

      Yep, I wouldn’t say that its “great” but it sounds just like a lot of bands of this style sound like

  • Monsterth Goatom

    My mouth starts to water as soon as I see an eth in a band’s name. Usually an indicator of high quality.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      What´s an eth?

      • Goldicot

        Probably the one letter you don’t recognize.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          It all started with the umlaut, now it’s getting out of hand.

          • sir_c

            The umlaut is when the amplifier can be set to eleven. The eth is when things get really dark.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Motorheað!

          • Beautiful.

          • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

            I always giggle at Arckanum’s album title
            ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Sorry, just had to put out a Vodka fire. It’s ð.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          You mean Voðka?

        • Lithophyte

          Oh, because one of my favourite bands was Eths, with their original singer Candice Clot

  • Akira Watts

    I’m not really hearing the production issues so much. I listened to this one back to back with the Great Old Ones album from earlier this year, and remember distinctly thinking that the production on this was miles beyond that of TGOO (great album, but brickwalled to shit) . Maybe it’s my shitty headphones or maybe my ears are just different.

    I don’t disagree that the songs do tend to blur together though. I still think it works, since it kind of makes me consume and dig the album as a solid chunk, but it’s definitely a fair criticism.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    How do I pronounce “Auðn”?

    • Thatguy

      However you like. The Icelanders won’t care because they expect us to get ti wrong.

    • Christian Krüger

      that “d”-letter I don’t want to search right now and that I am obviously also too lazy to copy out of your comment, is pronounced as a soft “th” I believe.

      • Brutalist_Receptacle

        IT’S SILENT LIKE THE “P” IN SWIMMING

        • Thatguy

          Ou comme le ‘pee’ dans la piscine.

          • Brutalist_Receptacle

            “Lurn Inglush Immugrint!”

            .

            – – Presudint Drumpf

          • MetalMartin

            Monsieur parle le français?

          • Thatguy

            Not really.

            Just enough to play with BR.

        • Name’s Dalton

          The P in swimming is in the pool.

      • Thatguy

        It’s the voiced dental fricative – ‘th’ as in the.

    • Nukenado

      D but t a bit, I think.

  • sir_c

    Yes, an open production would have helped this album a lot.
    But I can’t give this a 2.5 because ðat would not be fair.

  • That closing paragraph echoes my own sentiments so perfectly that I’m considering filing a mental restraining order against you.

  • Also, everyone stop everything and check out Trespasser on Bandcamp. Sludgy doomed hardcore with blackened crust vocals… my pants are resizing themselves just typing that. Doesn’t hurt that at least one of the dudes is from Départe, and with it being NYP there’s no losing. Probably the best EP I’ve heard this year, I strongly recommend them to anyone into dark and heavy shit.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Thanks, will do. Speaking of black crust, I wish Young and in the Way would put out a new album. Still haven’t encountered anything that approaches the monstrous sound heard on When Life Comes to Death.

      • Well, the band is now indebted to you for one new fan, and now I, too, want a new YaitW album.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Ha, cool. I in turn have to thank Madame X, as I discovered them when WLCtD turned up in her Top 10 for 2014 post.

      • herrschobel

        agree

    • Name’s Dalton

      That Olde English font is sure to piss some people off.

    • herrschobel

      great stuff…just how i like my muzak …the font choice is terrible though…

      • Agreed on the font front. Oh well, they had to have some kind of flaw on a debut ep, I’ll take it.

  • Planex

    Season of Mist is having a great year.

  • Lithophyte

    I have an obscenely sophisticated set of headphones (apologies to those who don’t, but I did the hard yards) but the wall of noise sounds awesome. A tad much reverb perhaps. Would want a different mix if it was on vinyl.

  • Dudeguy Jones

    Really really like this one myself!!! I do have cauliflower for ears, so even a DR 1 is fine as long as the music written is good.

  • Marc Rikmenspoel

    I am another with ears that aren’t really bothered by sound quality. So I think this album is great, if admittedly not all that distinctive. As such, I give it a 3.5 or 4. It’s new enough I need to give it several more listens.