16 Mar 2023 - Martin
Black Metal | Vendetta Records | Release date: 15 Mar 2023 | Favorite song: Det Der Var
Suddenly we´re confronted with something heavy. A matter of life and death. Something we all share, but cannot fathom entirely. Eternal loss and a elemental value rediscovered. Remember! But what? - It starts with stormy seas and freezing wind and at the end we may find peace. A stirring Black Metal sound will lead us the way.
You most definitely have already been confronted with mortality - the finiteness of life. How it feels to lose someone close to you or to see the condition of a person you know deteriorate step-by-step. Not only through sickness, accident or age, but also by surrendering to one´s fate i.e. keeping up bad habits until the inevitable end. It makes you reflect on life itself, but also on your own current position on the way to the absolute threshold. You realize the fleetingness of things you experience and already have experienced.
This often evokes strong feelings of sadness and helplessness. It can open up a black void to lose yourself into. Pure negativity. But to the fortune of everybody who feels this existential dread enbodied in ice-cold riffs and harsh screams, being attracted to the sound of “Metal”, this void stares back at you thoroughly. And you know what, this is a very good thing. Even scientifically substantiated, Metal helps to approach challenging life events with a different perspective while allowing an outlet for emotional expression. Providing a healthy way to reflect on more difficult themes and subjects that affect our lives. In Metal or heavy music overall, we proactively tackle these heavy topics, share our experiences, seek and find a cathartic release.
Afsky from Denmark has held up the mirror of mortality to us, since it´s foundation by Ole Pedersen Luk in 2015 as a one-man-project. With means of tremolo guitars, blastbeats and emotionally-intense shrieks as also a sound which is ice-cold and full of grief and turmoil. Arousing deep feelings of loss, also manifested in the artworks of Sorg (2018) and Ofte jeg drømmer mig død (2020). Providing us with the cathartic release.
Afsky´s third full-length Om Hundrede År does this again, but now the sadness reflected to us is accompanied by more disparate and diverse feelings (fear, joy, despair, defiance, euphoria, sorrow…), which makes this record much more richer in effect and statement. Closer to the inherent ambiguity in everything, of reality, of life and death. 50 shades of grey. Welcome melancholy, nostalgia and fond memories. Welcome life!
The structure of Om Hundrede År already resembles in a way different stages of life or how you reflect upon life and death at these different stages. Right away the first track ”Stormfulde Hav” (”Stormy Sea(s)”), throws us into the uncharted waters of youth and young adulthood. The song starts with an sorrowful and beautiful acoustic guitar intro and moves across it´s almost 8 minute runtime through all kinds of emotions, from sorrow to hope, from contemplation to rage, until an acoustic fade out at the end leaves us with a sense of hope or being in peace with oneself. Soundwise it is an ebb and flow of tremolo guitars and blastbeats, a intensive sonic tapestry that is highlighted with beautiful, mournful guitar melodies and intricate bass guitar lines. This first track is like a miniature of the whole record. Like life, as tumultuous as it can be, filled to a brim with all kinds of emotions and experiences. Not only negative, but also very positive ones, on which you look back with nostalgia and melancholic joy.
From here we proceed to adulthood with ”Frosne Vind” (”Freezing wind”), where we face the responsibilities of everyday life with a sound evoking an stoic ascent of a mountain during a snow storm, short rests in-between. A repetitive groove that pushes us always further forward. Next we have ”Tak For Alt” (”Thank you for everything”), dripping with melancholy and nostalgia. Like a first résumé on life, reflecting on times past. While effervescent during its runtime, at the end you are left with a feeling of calm gratitude. This gratitude turns to euphoria, retrospect and an fighting attitude during ”Det Der Var” (”What was”). You get a sense of someone clinging to life, while ”Tid” (”Time”) is the last rebellion against the inevitable end. Starting gracefully and solemn, until a huge wave of tremolo guitar hits you with full force. This track is overall more chaotic in sound and full of menace. In the sixth and last track ”Fred Være Med Støvet” (”Peace be upon the dust”) life comes to an rapturous end.
Deliberate or not, even the length of the tracks diminishes from start to end, resembling how life slowly fades away and becomes shorter in time. But the overarching feeling that Om Hundrede År will leave you after hearing the whole record, will be one of heightened appreciation of life. That death, the eternal loss, is not the sole defining factor. There is no life without death and death is nothing without a life lived. With all kinds of experiences and feelings, often ambigious and disparate to each other. It is of utmost importance to keep still from time to time and reflect on life itself. To be really aware and present. A nice feature for a Black Metal record! (and yes, it´s not trve, orthodox or whatsoever…)
Death reminds us of the elemental value of life and life is now! Live to the fullest! Death comes one way or another, sooner or later. Thank you Ole, thank you Afsky for this all-important reminder. And for the emotional trip in-between!