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Bergsvriden – Gastkramad

by Gary Hernandez at 14 August 2022, 6:35 PM

The cover of “Gastkramad,” the fourth full-length album by BERGSVRIDEN, gives off an Appalachian Folk vibe—a wooden shack in disrepair and haunted as a New Orleans graveyard. The song titles say Troll(ish) Metal—elaborate titles pointed to grim folklore. Google says the band name translates to “mountain twist” and the album title, “touched by the spirit of the dead.” The music, though, is classic BERGSVRIDEN, taking the best aspects of Black Metal (banshee vocals, tremolo riffs, bleak themes) and infusing them with elements of Folk (Scandinavian lore, some traditional instrumentation, chanty melodies). The result, to my ears, is more Black than Folk, which is a good thing, but also more Pirate than Folk, which is not such a great thing. It is, however, the BERGSVRIDEN signature sound.

While still on the lo-fi spectrum, “Gastkramad” has fairly good production values, especially when compared to some previous BERGSVRIDEN releases. But that lo-fi, grayscale distortion is deliberate, and it does have its own aesthetic and twisted charm. The album kicks off with a short atmospheric piece, “Midnatt,” which instills a deep a sense of unease without relying on a visceral assault. The second track, “Vargahamn,” reminds us that yes indeed this is a Black Metal album.  There are two other instrumental interludes on the album, “Bland bistra stammar och tåbäckar” and “En ruskig liten visa.” The remaining six tracks are fangs, rot, and dark lore . . . to a fast waltz or Dorian mode melody.

Best tracks are “Vargahamn,” “Den vita fruns klagosang” (love the vocal flourishes on this one), and “De blåkultas natt.” I do have to say there is a curious Psych bend to the album. It recalls the harmonic minor, albeit with distortion and rust. In plain words, it’s reminiscent of a haunted beach vibe like THE CRAMPS or, dare I say it, The Munsters.

Fans of BERGSVRIDEN will love this album. It’s very consistent with their trajectory and doesn’t deviate into new exploratory spaces apart from maybe cleaner mixing and mastering. All in all, not quite my thing but good enough to make me rethink my biases.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1.  Midnatt
2.  Vargahamn
3.  De huvudlösa följets färd
4.  Den vita fruns klagosång
5.  Skarvbergets vrede
6.  Bland bistra stammar och tåbäckar
7.  Kvisti grav
8.  En ruskig liten visa
9.  De blåkultas natt
Trollmania – Guitars, vocals, drums, accordion
Öltomten – Bass, flute, vocals (backing)
Trollpung – Vocals
Record Label: Northern Fog Records


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