Written by: RUB on 23/04/2021 11:10:31

I am really digging all these different, new band names being derived from the Danish language. Angstskríg, translating to scream of angst, just says everything you need to know about what sort of music lies beneath the surface of this début album of theirs – or at the very least that it is going to be in the extreme end of the metal spectrum. Rightly so. As I queue up “Skyggespil”, we’re once again in the realm of black metal, but after hearing the album in its entirety, it’s definitely beyond just a generic run at the genre. What’s probably best described as black’n’roll, or Nordic black metal by the band itself, the duo of Angstskríg has taken a rather different route than most of their counterparts on the Danish scene. With both clean vocals sung in their native tongue, incorporations of various genres, and cameos from several artists from different renowned acts – all neatly engulfed in the mysticism of the band in general — they’ve definitely done their homework prior to the release.

Kicking things off with the title track, which translates to “Shadow Play”, the easily recognizable HM-2 guitar sound (that characteristic buzzsaw sound the pedal can produce that the Swedish legends in Entombed popularized through the ‘90s) takes the lead. As the drums kick in with a classic two beat rhythm, the aggressive nature of Angstskríg quickly becomes apparent. Even though the lyrics are shrieked in decipherable Danish, the music alone should be enough to turn some heads; it’s upbeat and raw, and sounds both modern and fresh. There’s plenty of melody and catchy hooks, albeit without sacrificing any of that grim black metal sound. The song structure in general has some progressive feel to it, though without earning the label of actual progressive metal. But when the large majority of the songs clock in at more than five or even six minutes, the soundscape has the ability to truly evolve and make plenty of twists and turns, something that Angstskríg certainly takes advantage of.

Even though this release definitely is black metal, it’s with an uncanny twist that makes it stand out – especially on the Danish scene, which has been dominated primarily by atmospheric black metal in the later years. In the second track “Uhygge” (“Eerie” or “Ominous”), the riff is simple yet effective, and helps render the track into one of the definitive highlights of the album. The incorporation of untraditional riffs as far as the realm of black metal goes, albeit with a very raw and nasty feel to them, makes them effective to say the least. It’s almost as if the duo has managed to make black metal sound catchy<, which should be very easy to spot in the track in question. Even though the orchestral samples, fast-paced tremolo melodies and blastbeats should make any fan of black metal feel right at home, the punk-ish and testosterone-fueled main riff intertwined within them makes it clear that we’re dealing with something else – it’s quite rock’n’roll, to be honest. The track takes an even more unconventional direction just shy of the four-minute mark, as the pace suddenly changes and it ventures into a quiet, piano-laced interlude, where the black metal shrieks are abandoned for clean vocals — quite unique, but again, it helps give the track edge.

With “Lad Paladserne Brænde” (“Let the Palaces Burn”), the untraditional nature of the band’s songwriting takes yet another different turn. With a more classic heavy metal sound and even a -solo later on, the juxtaposition between black metal and the other elements works together extremely well here. The song switches back and forth between blistering blastbeats, ominous samples, and a much more traditional heavy metal sound, without it losing the overall feeling that we’re still dealing with a black metal band at heart. And the crusty, rock’n’roll, and almost punk-ish nature incorporated in the music is once again brought to light with “Lucifer Kalder” (“Lucifer’s Calling”). This is straight up rock’n’roll, but with a satanic and fresh twist to it – quite the combination. Even the use of heavy bass lines and tambourine should make this a hard-hitting track in a live setting. Again, I get that catchy feeling from the rock’n’roll element, while Angstskríg demonstrates how you can still sing about Satan and dark themes without it needing to be all about corpse paint and sacrificing goats. The originality of the release and the songwriting prowess alone should thus be enough to give Angstskríg plenty of devoted followers.

Ending the album with “Knæfald” (“Kneeling”), the album takes a more serious note. It utilizes several Danish tropes such as “Har du penge kan du få, har du ingen må du gå” and “Du er din egen lykkes smed…” (it sounds much better in Danish, but Google Translate should give you a general idea of their meaning…) in the chorus, but uses them in a negative way to convey something more profound and meaningful about the lack of freedom and equality, greed, lies and humanity in general. Although I’m missing a few central words, I find myself humming along to the infectious melody, which instrumentally isn’t too far off from what Enslaved could’ve created in terms of both atmosphere and soundscape. As the song nears its end with a rather epic guitar solo, dreary and strained screams of agony end it with the words “Knæfald for griskhed… ingen godhed, ingen frihed” (“Kneeling to greed… no kindness, no freedom”), ensuring that the album ends on a very different note than what I initially expected after first queuing the album, and thus manages to break down one final barrier in conventional black metal.

I love when bands break down barriers between different genres, and especially when it sounds as natural and different as it does on Angstskríg’s impressive début. Although you, as a listener, have to abandon your understanding and view of how you think black metal should sound like in order to truly enjoy this, I think that you will be rewarded plentifully if you do choose to broaden your perception of the genre. To sum it all up: Angstskríg is not your ordinary black metal band, but when the blend of so many different genres and elements manages to sound so fresh without losing any of the aggression and menacing feel that makes up black metal as a genre, it definitely has the potential to turn all the right heads – at least I hope so.


Download: Uhygge, Lucifer Kalder, Knæfald, Skyggespil, Lad Paladserne Brænde
For the fans of: Black Breath, Bloodbath, Entombed, Midnight
Listen: Facebook

Release date 28.05.2021
Despotz Records

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