Asgrauw – IJsval (Death Kvlt Productions)
Review by Milos Sebalj
Time does seem to fly with these Dutchmen! It seems like just a few months since I was reviewing their previous album “Gronspech”, which turned out to be a certain landmark of their creative effort. It has actually been a whole year and a half, and the new one is upon us!
Further expanding on their previous records, Asgrauw delivers another 37 minute long dose of ‘Darkthrone-ish’ Black Metal with a plot twist that separates them from the multitude of clones that sound more like Darkthrone than Darkthrone themselves these days. While the basics of Norwegian second wave are still the essence of their sound, the Dutch are leaning even closely to the German side of the genre with the harmonies one cannot miss from the first track onward. Noteworthy are also the short acoustic passages which discern the cold, cutting aggression from the emotional side of the song, thus creating a fine line between them which serve as a ‘manual’ for those who time after time fail to combine those elements together. It was never a secret that Asgrauw aims at the atmosphere above all, often neglecting a more serious approach to musical skills. However, it seems they are slowly getting to a point where they successfully incorporate some of their apparent abilities into their (still very much) raw outtake on Black Metal.
Now, the previous Asgrauw album offered an interesting glimpse into the Dutch mythology and pagan beliefs. Can’t say for sure about this one, but it seems like it shifts back to a more traditional themes, as far as the genre goes. Judging by the titles, at least. Of course, with a little help from an online translator (fuck off, no ads here for greedy multinational assholes). I could be wrong, since I didn’t get the lyrics yet. I’m still waiting for the album to be officially released. Last time it took a whole lot of effort to understand them, as I don’t speak a word of the language. As the album title translates to “Icefall” in English, there is no other conclusion for now. It can come to mind that this record is somewhat conceptual, but, again, I cannot say for sure at this point. Thinking about the titles themselves, I have created a link in my mind. It would be interesting to check if I got it right.
One more thing that has become a trademark for this trio are their beautiful cover paintings. Yes, paintings! Asgrauw kept the same artist by their side, so a certain J. Putman is still responsible for the visual side of their releases. Keeping to a similar dark purple pallet of colors on every Asgrauw album seems like a neat trick to keep them recognizable, while the visuals do keep up with the music behind it.
In conclusion, the Dutch trio keeps true to the path they have cleared for themselves. Never straying far from their roots, they stay fresh over and over again, unleashing another album which should be a real treat for anybody with a Black Metal heart.