12 May 2020 - Thorsten
Black-Metal | Vendetta Records | Release date: 12 May 2020
Within the realms of guitar-based music, Black Metal seems to be the equivalent to Electronica when it comes to the frequency one-man projects. Everyone of the aficionados can probably name at least five such “bands” from the top of their heads.
Danish guitarist Ole Luk also has his own one-man-project called AFSKY for several years now and he is a perfect example for modern black metal. One might argue that he doesn’t bring anything new to a scene bound for redundancy. He doesn’t evolve the genre like other solo projects do (compare Lausanne’s Borgne or Gotha’s Mosaic). Using folksy acoustic guitars, blastbeats, crushing riffs, slowed down passages is definitely nothing unheard of before. And that shall be it for criticism because his new record Ofte jeg drømmer mig død (‘Often I dreamt myself dead’) is simply beautiful and will surely end up on a lot of people’s lists for awesome records of 2020.
Here is why – the record has substance. Musically, this follow-up to 2018’s debut full-length “Sorg” (‘Worry’) shows Luk at the top of his game. He is able to incorporate simple yet majestic, altruistic yet despaired acoustic or trimmed down passages into the whirlwinds of black metal he is unfolding. The opening track is a perfect example: Starting off with a sound passage that might either be the sound of the ocean waves slowly rushing up and down the beach or the wind in the field that is shown on the cover of the record. The painting is Udslidt and it was painted by H.A. Brendekilde in 1889 – the title meaning ‘worn out’ is perfectly shown with the crying woman kneeling on the barren field and holding the head of a dead man (presumably her father). He died of exhaustion – one can easily see that in his face showing the strains of old age and hard work. You can hear all of that on this record – despair, exhaustion, death, sheer fear of the vastness and what shall come next. Ole was even invited to talk about the painting and play some tunes in the art museum where Brendekilde’s picture hangs to talk about the picture and play some tunes acoustically for his record release (https://fb.watch/4RrdfprOGh/ , it’s all in Danish, though).
Luk has assembled six songs all based on old Danish poems (one by famous fairytale writer H.C. Andersen – whose biography would also make for a wonderful black metal album) and sings them in his native tongue. Without knowing Danish, it becomes clear he isn’t singing about pink unicorns – take titles like “Angst” or “Bondeplage” (‘Peasants Plague’). Life is not a fairy tale, especially if you live in the 19th century and are not an aristocrat – a hetero-normative oriented aristocrat that is (compare Andersen’s biography). Choosing Danish for his lyrics is not a way of hiding anything, it might be seen as a safe haven – where he must not fear for his life. Although, the title of the record hints at suicidal dreams anyway. There is a lot of introspection here and that is definitely a huge advantage of this record. You can listen to it and feel the despair slowly creeping into your own perception, but never taking over your own thinking. The latter might also be given because he doesn’t use English so most people simply do not understand anything but have to use empathy to understand rationally.
All these elements, the incorporation of folk tales, of socio-critical lyrics, of wonderfully calm musical parts and an interest in history and one’s roots and mother tongue make this a perfect example of modern Nordic black metal where Myrkur and Venom meet. Ole Luk is a name to remember and AFSKY is a force you will not forget. A substantial force to get lost in.