Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bhleg - Draumr Ast

Here's a bunch of guys from Gothenburg, Sweden.  If you think, though, that you're going to get a blast of melodic death metal, you are in for a very big surprise.  There is a lot of contrast on this album, and you will hear some straight up black metal, some atmospheric electronic stuff, and songs that I would call folk metal, sometimes in the same track but mostly separate.  Their band name means “to shine” in proto-Indo-European, and I don't have a clue what that is, so I guess you can also add them to the very long list of motherfuckers who are smarter than I am.

The album opens with “Solkronan”, a straight up blast of black metal.  One of the guitar tracks is so scathing and scalding that I swear it was peeling my flesh just listening to it.  All of the song titles and lyrics are in Swedish so I have no idea what they are going on about, but they don't sound happy.  Then the next track comes along, “Kosmos pulsadra”, which is a very simple, repeating phrase and done mostly electronically, and thus a big contrast from the first track.  “Nyckeln till livskraftens ursprung” is up next and it is a beautiful, folky sounding acoustic number.  So right away in the first 3 tracks you're kind of left wondering what exactly this beast is.

The rest of the album sets things pretty straight.  What they are is a very diverse black metal band, who doesn't really worry if they are sticking to the traditional black metal playbook or forging something new.  The music is grim and melancholic, yet with enough peace and light at its core that the listener can retain some hope.  Life can be brutal, the brutality can seem never ending, but there is still a core of light straining to shine through.  Which it does from time to time on this album.

My two favorite tracks on this album are “Brunnens hjarta” and “Skymningsdrommar”, which lead one right into the other and really show all the sides of this band.  There is driving, grim blackness leading into peaceful sounds from nature, then flowing into a repeating piano riff, only to fall back into blackness.  Which is a lot like life can be.  You have the highs and lows, the moments of peace and despair, happiness and sorrow, dark and light.  In the end each of us has to prove how we react to what life throws at us.  We have to embrace the light or be swallowed by the darkness.

This is music that depicts all of that.  It is a fantastic debut album and this is a band well worth watching.  That they have so much to say on their first release bodes well for them.


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