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Vanir - Aldar Rök

Aldar Rök
by Erika Kuenstler at 09 February 2016, 11:26 AM

Denmark is a country that still oozes the influences of it's Viking past, with the town of Roskilde being world renown for it's reconstruction of the sea-faring aspect of this formidable tribe of warriors. Unsurprisingly, it is from such a rich historic background that VANIR, one of Denmark's best up and coming Viking bands, hails. The end of the month will see VANIR back to pillage our shores with their fourth full length album "Aldar Rök". With a change in lineup, I was eager to see how this had affected their sound, and it seems that the influx of new blood has seen the band take on an entirely different musical vein as compared to 2014's "The Glorious Dead".

The folkier aspects of their music have fallen to the way-side, replaced by a more sombre and darker atmosphere. Black Metal influences that added subtle hues to their previous music now come slightly more to the fore, adding moodier undertows, immediately apparent from the first few strains of "Black Legion". Yet there is so much more to "Aldar Rök" than just this, ranging from the epic soundscapes woven into "Pretorian" through to macabre chills of "Unrepentant" and the brutal yet melodic airs found in songs like "Wrath of Sutr". Rawer Black Metal textures are found in the flurry of "The Serpent", whilst arguably the best has been saved for last: "Drukvisen" is a monumental masterpiece that embodies all the emotions of the entire album into one brief song. I can just imagine how well this song will go down live, and is absolutely guaranteed to leave a shortage of neck braces in its wake the following day. As opposed to most of the other elements of VANIR's music, the vocals have perhaps stayed the most constant between the last album and their latest offering,  but whilst the vocals perfectly match the style of "Aldar Rök", there is little variation in the vocal techniques used throughout the album. However, given the tumultuous nature of the guitars and bass melodies, this consistency does provide some anchorage to the songs, giving free reign to the other instruments.

As with the writing of this album, the recording and production of "Aldar Rök" also stayed in VANIR's hands, allowing them full control over the outcome. This is a job well done, with the sound remaining clean without seeming over-polished. In terms of song structure though, the use of keyboards can be slightly much from time to time. These tracks often dominating all other instruments, which can suppress what is going on in the other layers of the song. But then again, this overuse is thankfully not the status quo, and so can be overlooked to some degree, although it does detract somewhat from fully enjoying the music.

The other downside of this album is it's length: clocking in at just over half an hour, "Aldar Rök" seems to be over long before its time, leaving you wanting more. But as with the age old adage relied on by men over generations, quality comes before quantity. Each song on this album is excellent in its own right, giving us a lean album devoid of fluff, so one can forgive the brevity of this opus. "Aldar Rök" is a relentless, energetic, and engaging album that leaves you steamrollered in its path. Definitely worth checking out!

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Black Legion
2. Pretorian
3. Unrepentant
4. Broken Throne
5. Wrath of Sutr
6. The Serpent
7. Drukvisen
Lars Bundvad - Bass
Philip Kaaber - Guitars (rhythm)
Martin Håkan - Vocals
Daniel Kronskov - Drums
Kirk Backarach - Guitars (lead)
Stefan Dujardin - Keyboards
Record Label: Mighty Music


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