Label: AOP Records
Release date: 29 November 2019
Format reviewed: Digital Promo
“She sang, and then she sang no more.”
For this weeks review, I will take on the new album by Swedish band OFDRYKKJA, “Gryningvisor”, which will be released on November 29th via Art of Propaganda. Two years after their last record “Irrfärd” the Swedish three-man project return with more of their unique brand of Atmospheric Black Metal, this time with perhaps even more Melancholic Folk-influence than ever! “Gryningvisor”, which translates to “ballads at dawn” spans 12 tracks, clocking in at over an hour of runtime and it aims to be a more focused record then the previous, which was majorly influenced by hardships that all members went through at the time… Can this new release by the band convince and keep the listener interested over this pretty long runtime? Let’s dive in!
After a very ambient intro track in the form of “Skymningsvisa”, which already establishes a very melancholic, yet beautiful atmosphere and mood, “The Swan” truly opens the album. Tragic guitars and gloomy keyboard surround you in a cold, sad climate, and later on distorted riffing further in the background joins in to further enhance this feeling. The vocals on this second track are varied, going from whispered screams to folky cleans, as well as introducing the beautiful female vocals from guest musician Miranda Samuelsson, which will accompany the listener throughout. Among acoustic interludes and somber drums, the track builds up dreary and mist-veiled sound. “Swallowed by the Night” manages to balance the clean Folk and distorted Black Metal sound very well.
Later tracks further contrast the acoustics with harsher, blackened guitars, some going into more metal-esque territory than others, for example “Wither”, where the generally slow music suddenly gains more momentum and utilizes a glacier-like, frost-ridden keyboard. “As the Northern Wind Cries” is another great example, as the male vocals do go into more of a Black Metal direction here, taking on a tortured and strangled sound.
Some other tracks do the opposite, going full folk, such as “Ensam” & “In I Natten”, where among celtic lyre and violin instrumentation, Samuelssons stunning vocals are the main focus. The second half of the album also features a very compelling cover and solid rendition of the classic Swedish ballad “Herr Mannelig”. On this track, the female vocals complement the beautiful and gloomy approach the band took to covering the song!
Towards the albums end, “Våra minnenas klagosång” and “Köldvisa” present the most depressing riffs on the album as well as some very moving melodies. It is here where the drumming also stood out to me, as it did a lot more than on the other tracks, where it is a bit underutilized in my opinion. “Grey” offers more tragic riffs underneath a very prevalent keyboard that takes on, where on previous tracks it was similar already, a full-on “Filosofem” sound. The drumming on here is also more present, overall it provides a punch of intensity, that some other tracks were missing. “Gryningvisa” closes the album with a sad mood and soundtrack-like quality.
OFDRYKKJA have put out a solid album in the form of “Gryningvisor”, summoning a generally more Folk-infused album, reducing the Black Metal elements a bit, maybe even a bit too much. The band create some great, folky soundscapes and the addition of female guest musician Miranda Samuelssons vocals really added to the beauty of the album. I feel like some tracks lacked a bit of punch and some also didn’t have an adequate climax, instead opting for a simple fade-out that, more often than not, left something to be desired… Even taking into account these criticisms of the album, it still is a good record. If you go in with the expectation of a more somber, slow and atmospheric Melancholic Folk album with a palette of compelling Black Metal elements rather than thinking the other way around, you will surely find lots of things to enjoy, recommended! 7/10 the trve Medvson
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