Hamferð - Támsins likamHamferð first came to my attention following the publication of my review of the most recent Barren Earth record. The two bands share a vocalist—Jón Aldará—and his voice was the absolute highlight of On Lonely Towers. However, at the time, Evst was already two years old, and so I never reviewed it. But already then, it was obvious to me that this Faroese funeral doom band was something special. Hamferð plays a style of doom that is thankfully impervious to serious trendiness. Truly excellent doom is pretty rare,1 and I have developed a bit of an aversion to the doom genre because my promo inbox is populated by a glut of stoned, raw-water-drinking hipsters trying to play Black Sabbath riffs as though they were interesting and/or novel nearly 50 years after they were first written. But when done well, doom metal can be an intense, beautiful, and crushing genre. And Hamferð does it well.

Támsins likam (The Body of Mist) is a concept album whose story precedes the band’s 2013 album Evst. The main character is the same, but Támsins likam introduces the perspective of his wife as the pair grieves the loss of a child to illness. On the opening track, “Fylgisflog” (Flight for Procession), the woman imagines herself escaping her responsibility for maintaining family stability, while the man sinks into a depression, losing sight of the needs of his wife and remaining son. The parents’ different ways of grieving leads to a conflict that grows throughout the story, which ultimately leads to tragedy (“Hon syndrast” [She Disintegrates]), but not resolution (“Vápn i anda” [Armed in Spirit]). While the lyrics are in Faroese, guitarist and composer Theodor Kapnas manages to communicate the story deftly through the album’s feel.

Hamferd 2018

Támsins likam feels like a slow build, but reveals itself to be circular in its final strains. The album is deliberate and crushing; doom to the core, with leaden guitars, and thick, ponderous bass and drums. Or it’s supple and mournful; padded with ethereal resonances—cellos, double bass, grand piano or Esmar Joensen’s soft keys. Over top of this, Aldará’s voice is perfectly suited for the whole range of emotions conveyed throughout. This is perfectly demonstrated on “Fylgisflog,” where his mournful song—which at times reminded me of Eowyn’s song of mourning in The Two Towers—gives way to a scream of pain and rasping growls that evoke Still Life-era Opeth.

Each track on Támsins likam reveals different wrinkles of the band’s sound. “Stygd” (Cowardice) starts with vocal choirs and meditative feel. “Tvístevndur meldur” (The Two-headed Whirlwind) starts with grand piano and ends on a note that doesn’t resolve, while “Frosthvarv” (Fleeting Frost) wanders deep into Katatonia territory at its outset, before giving way to a wicked fury. The fury of “Frosthvarv” is followed by the album’s undeniable emotional peak on “Hon syndrast.” Hamferð picks up the tempo a bit here with crunchy guitars in a quarter-note feel that are easy to nod along with. Aldará’s vocals peak and the track breaks into the most intense material on the album, cresting into a blast beat at one point. This gives way to the album’s closer, “Vápn i anda,” and when the final track circles back around to the album’s opening strains, it’s as effective a recapitulation as I’ve ever heard.

Hamferð demonstrates excellent musicianship and compositional intelligence on Támsins likam. Of particular note is the work of their inventive, clever drummer Remi Kofoed Johannesen. Hamferd 2018Hamferð plays some of its slowest material without the drums keeping time. Instead, Johannesen riffs languidly along on his toms, letting the rhythm go tacit (like on “Stygd”). This is difficult at any speed, but it may be harder at the speed of dirge. But the drums, like the whole band, work in unison with the whole band; the guitars and bass are arranged so perfectly that they function orchestrally. Ísak Petersen’s bass anchors Hamferð‘s fat, meaty riffs, and the guitarists—John Áki Egholm and the aforementioned Kapnas—drop subtle solos and demonstrate fantastic feel for their instruments. And, as the best vocalists do, Jón ties the album together. He demonstrates the ability to work with everything asked of him, and to shine. Whether he strikes a mournful tone, a beastly growl, angelic cleans, or a tortured cry, Aldará’s performance is striking and beautiful.

Támsins likam is an artful album from an extremely promising band. All of the writing and excellent performances are mixed to perfection, and Daniel Bergstrand and Kapnas’ production is meticulous. The result is a record that is immense, enrapturing and moving. Some records are just so good that as a reviewer, I encourage you to just take 45 minutes, a pair of headphones, and find a dark place to sit or lay, and let the Támsins likam wash over you. The album exudes depth, intensity, loss and sadness. I can wax poetic about Aldará’s brass-like voice or Johanessen’s clever drumming, or Kapnas’ excellent composition, but Támsins likam is an album that should simply be allowed to speak for itself.


Rating: Excellent!
DR: 7 | Media Reviewed: V0 mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: hamferd.bandcamp.comhamferd.com | facebook.com/hamferd
Release Date: January 12, 2018

Show 1 footnote

  1. Purists should note that I call this funeral doom because of its theme, the band’s image, and the dirgey nature of the music. However, these guys are not so minimalist to be nearly drone, like Khanate or Bell Witch.
  • This is like the perfect companion album to Hallatar.

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      I hope it refrains from the slightly cheesy spoken word pieces that Hallatar used……

      • Blasphemer!

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          It’s a fine line between hauntingly sublime and trite.
          But the rest of the album is stellar.

      • Danny

        I actually dug ’em. But spoken word is hard to nail, 5 bands suck at it for every one who does a good job.

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          Best spoken word last year for me was on Caligula’s Horse’s album.
          That piece was enthralling.

          • Danny

            It was probably by favorite spoken word piece of the year as well, evocative words delivered in a terrific tone., if maybe a little long. The trick is you need both really well written words and strong delivery, and it needs to make sense in the context of enhancing the song/album as a whole and be something I want to hear as many times as I’d want to spin the album. Most bands fail on one or more of those criteria.

  • Excentric_13073

    Now THAT is a goddam band photo.

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      Tilt the screen so the ground is level horizontally and it’s EVEN COOLER!!

    • foreverAlfon

      now THIS is podracing!!

    • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

      They look like a ska band somebody dropped off in the desert like an unwanted dog.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        What else is there to do with a ska band?

        • Nukenado

          Yo, don’t badmouth The Specials.

        • Kronos

          I find they’re often delicious baked with a sprig of rosemary.

        • RuySan

          You deserve an upvote even though i once made out with a very nice looking girl at a Less Than Jake concert.

          It was the 90s. Don’t judge me.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Almost any music is a good soundtrack for making out with nice looking girls.

          • Lucas Lex DeJong

            Gnaw Their Tongues?

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I don’t know how you make out with girls, but I wouldn’t recommend to Gnaw Their Tongues.

    • Pyramid Head

      They look like they are in the gloomier side of the mountain where Wilderun has their cozy cabin at the edge of the world.

  • hallowed

    Very good. I hope they call their next album Bogart.

  • Eldritch Elitist

    What lovely new side banners we’ll have.

  • Gaëtan Baratin
  • Huck N’ Roll

    Sure, steal my Kayak thunder. Although in all honesty, this is a fantastic album. I’ve been listening to it daily for two weeks and I can’t find any flaws. If it came out last year I would rank it as the top doom album. Listen and buy, people!

    • Kayak Thunder is my new white water themed grind band.

      • VikingSchism

        Personally if I was starting one, I’d call it Planctae, in reference to Greek mythology – they certainly did a lot of grinding

      • ssorg

        So long as they cover Testament’s “Raging Waters”

        • I burst into that song anytime I come within 500 feet of a river, stream or babbling brook.

          • Nukenado

            Really? I prefer Insomnium’s “Black Waters” for sudden aquatic outbursts.

          • “sudden aquatic outbursts” was the name of my niche porn channel…

          • ssorg

            Violence! Terror! RAAging WAAters!

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Interesting. Fwiw, whenever I merge into a stream of traffic, I shout out “HOT MERGING ACTION!!”

          • Shrümpelstiltskin

            I burst into that song whenever I take a piss.

  • Ferrous Beuller

    Considering the beginning of this year’s release schedule and the soundtrack that saw 2017 sail into the night, I hearby proclaim this the year of death-doom. My winter of discontent starts… now.

  • GardensTale

    Brilliant album. Thick and choking with heartfelt performances and awe-inspiring buildups. At times it truly makes me feel like I’m drowning. I love it.

  • metalcasket

    Welp, AOTY folks. ;)

    • GardensTale

      The one to beat at least!

  • Selby

    This might become my first purchase of the year.

  • TheKenWord2017

    As I have said in previous comments on other posts, a good vocalist is key for me to be sucked into any album, regardless of genre. This here band of which I have never previously heard, definitely impresses. Maybe not as impressive as King Goat’s vocalist, but they are different enough in delivery that maybe a direct comparison is not warranted. Definitely going to check this one out!

    • GardensTale

      Execution and atmosphere are quite different. King Goat is cosmic epicness, Hamferd is drowning lonely in a black ocean.

      • TheKenWord2017

        Agreed!

  • yobazsavar

    what the hell

  • Yolo Swaggins

    I loved his voice in Barren Earth and I love it now.

  • basenjibrian

    Excellent! Cannot wait.

  • tomasjacobi

    Holy shit this sounds good.
    And that video should win an award!

  • SoLeftISeeRight

    Compositional intelligence and circularity seem to be a hallmark of Faroese musicians.

  • I like ham.

    • lrn2swim

      I am HAM. You are HAM. We all are HAM.

      • My writing has been called ham-fisted before, so sure, I am HAM!

        • lrn2swim

          Svik, harmur og dauði

  • Grymm

    This is both sonically and emotionally crushing, and I don’t speak a lick of Faroese.

    This will be in my Top Ten for sure.

  • Nukenado

    Already?!

  • AgonMcDuck

    I don’t listen to a lot of death-doom, but… I’ve heard two tracks, and I like. At least as much as the last Ahab, and coming from me, that’s high praise.

  • One More Thing

    I really appreciate the vocalist in this group. The music makes a strong impression and maintains its presence, but the vocal changes help keep me grounded and my attention remains intact as the song progresses.

  • Lou Daz

    Pre-ordered after listening to three of the tracks from the album. Really interesting and enjoyable take on funeral doom.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Though it’s a sad day with the news of Eddie Clarke’s passing, it warms my heart to see great stuff like this coming out. The music goes on.

  • Gage

    2slow4me

  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    Dang, January 2018 is turning out to be a pretty cool month for metal. Good find, AMG.

  • This is way better than we deserve this early in the year, I don’t trust it.

  • The Unicorn

    Those band photos are killer. So is the music. Vocals are crushing! Enjoying this a lot, thanks for the well written review good chap.

  • SoLeftISeeRight

    Will we get two AMG reviews in the same week with the new Heidevolk? Or has it been delegated?

  • Doom is not usually my cup of tea, but this seems very well done. Clear songwriting and production. As mentioned, Jon’s voice is extremely varied and powerful and elevates this above the doom genre for me.

    Looking forward to see what other treasures 2018 has to unearth.

  • Metal and Hockey

    Reviews like this are why I come to this site daily. Ordered the CD this morning

  • Lucas Lex DeJong

    Between this, Shining and Summoning, I’m scared that my end of year list is already getting pretty full.

  • Blair Herefrith

    I just had the opportunity to review this album myself and feel absolutely head over heals madly in love with it, and Aldara’s vocals.