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Auðn - Vökudraumsins fangi Award winner

Auðn
Vökudraumsins fangi
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 27 October 2020, 11:34 AM

Hailing from the village of Hveragerði in the south of Iceland, AUÐN “deliver haunting melodies and beautifully frozen atmospheres – as opposed to the jarring and caustic blunt force trauma that has brought this remote place in the Northern Atlantic to the Black Metal forefront.” “Vökudraumsins fangi” is the band’s third full-length album, and contains ten tracks.

“Einn um alla tíð” leads off the album. It’s the longest song on the album…opening with soft clean guitars and a bit of melancholy elements. Just over a minute in, a menacing guitar riff followed by slamming drums and harsh vocals come in. After the half-way mark, clean guitars return. The melodies are subtle, but charming. Pay attention, because this is top tier songwriting. “Eldborg” is much shorter in length, opening with a jarring riff of Black Metal, but with unusual chord progressions. The sound is a desolate reflection of the Icelandic landscape. Following a scream, the sound slows with guttural vocals, and a weighted riff.

“Birtan hugann brennir” opens again with clean guitars that give way to distorted ones pretty quickly. The sound is quite melancholy, and hope is a work that just hangs in the air and the disappears. I really like the riff changes…they show a careful hand to the songwriting on the album. The song then softens a bit with some alluring lead guitar notes, and the harsh vocals return with a vengeance. It waxes and wanes several times throughout the track. “Verður von að bráð” features a faster moving song with another interesting riff. The vocals are vile and the sound is full on. Again, the way the chords progress is quite unique. The sound thickens towards the end with guttural vocals.

“Drepsótt” is a quick three-minute blast of Black Metal. That wall of sound hits you hard, and the vocals are absolutely raging. They do however manage to work in a little melody with the lead guitar notes. “Næðir um” begins with clean guitars and a saddening feeling. But, all is washed away by the thick rolling of drums and full on guitar attack, with maddening vocals. It slows just a bit, to let that nefarious sound soak in, but returns later with a renewed vigor. “Horfin mér” wastes no time, coming at you from the dark with fangs and sharp claws. It settles into a rhythm, with the drums holding the pace. Lead guitar passages provide much of the desolate melody here. The sound drops to a whisper around the half-way mark, then returns with a long scream. I can hear the bass guitar chugging away here. It ends on a long fade-out.

“Á himin stara” is a short, under-four-minute blast of sound. The drums are working overtime here. The band really knows how to combine the various instruments together, working in unison. “Ljóstýra” begins with doleful clean guitars and a slower pace. About a minute in, high hat strikes let you know something unforgiving is coming. It comes at you with full rage. Then, it softens a bit with more of those clean guitar tones. Again, the lead guitar provides moment of melody that are depressing in nature.

The title track closes the album…beginning with some clean guitars and more of that melodrama that can be heard on the album. Harsh vocals come into play towards the end, in a big crescendo, but it’s just a very pretty way to cap off the album, with these charming lead guitar notes, and again, a strong sense of songwriting. As it rolls on, you feel lost in a city full of people, with no purpose and no meaning in life. Sad and alone, you live out your final days in a darkened room with only your lifeless thoughts to keep you company.

Masterful at songwriting, AUÐN do indeed deliver a scorcher of an album here with “Vökudraumsins fangi.” This isn’t your dad’s old Black Metal from the 1990’s, but rather a more modern take on the genre, with some old school elements, but also with a ton of creativity, complexities, and imagination. The band knows where to make accents and crescendos to really move you to feel the music here. Though largely depressive in nature, there is beauty to be found at many turns. Let this album cover you like a blanket and get lost in their world, for there is no coming back.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Einn um alla tíð
2. Eldborg
3. Birtan hugann brennir
4. Verður von að bráð
5. Drepsótt
6. Næðir um
7. Horfin mér
8. Á himin stara
9. Ljóstýra
10. Vökudraumsins fangi
Lineup:
Hjálmar Gylfason – Guitars
Sigurður Kjartan Pálsson – Drums
Aðalsteinn Magnússon – Guitars
Andri Björn Birgisson – Guitars
Hjalti Sveinsson – Vocals
Matthías Hlífar Mogensen – Bass
Record Label: Season of Mist Records
     


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