Afsky – Ofte Jeg Drømmer Mig Død [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

Every year, the chase is on to find that underground band no one’s ever heard of. The one that you present to everyone who loves music and watch as their expressions change from an unconvinced “Who is this?” to “Holy shit, this is amazing!” Well, folks, for those of you with a taste for pure black metal, unadulterated by frills and ribbons, I have the album for you. It’s Ofte Jeg Drømmer Mig Død, by Danish one-man black metal band, Afsky. The solo project of Ole Luk, singer and guitarist of Solbrud, this is the band’s second album, following Sorg (Grief) in 2018. Now, Sorg was good but it sounded a bit under cooked at times, often too beholden to many of its second-wave predecessors. Well, if Sorg failed to quite take off, with the stunning Ofte Jeg Drømmer Mig DødAfsky now fills the sky.

The album’s key strengths are the quality of its compositions, combined with excellent pacing. Let’s start with those songs. Beautifully blending icy atmospheric black metal (early Ulver), aggression (Taake) and melodicism (Dissection), it sneakily also slips in some folk elements. It deftly supports this blend while maintaining a mournful, melancholic and moving tone. The songs journey organically through depression, heartache and sadness but never become tedious or derivative. “Tyende Sang” features surging riffs, thundering bass and scattered drums that ebb and flow beneath Luk’s tortured vocals. Like the rest of the album, it balances aggression and depression perfectly, building to a stunning climax of soaring tremolos and restless beats. The dynamism throughout the album shifts effortlessly, with songs like “Imperia” featuring a more aggressive pace while closer “Angst” is more languid and folksy, ending on a gorgeous, acoustic passage. The overwhelming feeling after listening to Ofte Jeg Drømmer Mig Død is one of completeness; no elements are missing, and none have been under-explored.

The pacing is also impeccable, aided by songs that organically flow from idea to idea without sacrificing the blackened heart of Afsky. Each track brings a new concept or component to the table, creating a whole that really needs to be experienced in a single sitting. The shifts between atmo-black, black gaze, and traditional second-wave black metal are seamless, illustrated by “Stemninger I & II” which jumps from folk, to blackgaze, to furious blast beats and thundering double bass, all without sacrificing the underlying melody. This is lean, powerful stuff, with nary a moment of filler to be found. As a result, given the aforementioned variety and balance, Ofte Jeg Drømmer Mig Død absolutely flies by.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the album is its ability to elicit a profound emotional response. Lots of music this year was pleasurable, or head-bangable, or brutally crushing. Few albums were able to really get beneath my skin and spike my blackened heart. Afsky managed with ease, leaving me feeling satisfied and deeply moved. It does this using old-fashioned techniques like great songwriting, a pure black metal aesthetic, and thematically consistent music. It hearkens back to the greats while forging its own emotional path. It’s beautiful.

Tracks to Check Out: “Tyende Sang”, “Imperia”

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