April 3, 2023

Album Review - Afsky "Om hundrede år"

Album Review -  Afsky
Last year I was fortunate enough to see Afsky, one of the leading lights in contemporary black metal, and they gave one of the standout black metal performances I saw in 2022. Their previous two LPs were both outstanding, and so I eagerly anticipated their new album. I am happy to say that it does not disappoint.

The opening track, Stormfulde Hav, intermingles classical guitar with massive, icy black metal. From the outset Ole Pedersen Luk, the sole member of Afsky, shows that his riffs, drumming and tormented vocals are as good as they ever were. Ole knows how to create balanced, structured songs and albums. He balances acoustic guitar work with black metal, the harsh with the beautiful. To call the music simple would do it a disservice, but I’d say that there is a synergy here where basic elements come together in a way that is greater than the sum of their parts, the result of Ole’s talents for writing songs and melodies. 

Sonically, Om hundrede år probably has more in common with the first album, Sorg, than the last one, Ofte jeg drømmer mig død. The last album had a somewhat bigger drum sound, especially the prominent bass drum, and it gave the album a more bombastic feel. The new album sees Afsky return to a slightly murkier sound, clear enough to appreciate the riffs but low-fi enough to create a second-wave black metal atmosphere. 

One songwriting tendency I notice with Afsky is the inclusion of sections where the percussion and vocals completely stop, leaving you with only a distorted black metal riff playing before returning full to the band’s full instrumental range. Overall, the guitars are often quite stark and evocative of desolation, both physical and spiritual. This is harsh music, but with a sense of melody. Playing music in this style, the riffs really need to do the heavy lifting and speak for themselves, as there really is nowhere for a weak or boring riff to hide. And no one pulls this off quite as well as Afsky. Afsky have a history of writing music that is incredibly beautiful but also quite bleak. Interestingly, the song Det der var is perhaps the most uplifting song I’ve heard from this project. And on the following track, Tid…. Is that a harpsicord? It is! Afsky is officially now highbrow culture. But don’t be fooled, as the harpsicord gives way to more blasting and some of the strongest riffs on the whole album. The final song in this 6 song journey, Fred være med støvet, is a suitably massive end to the album. Overall, the album is perfectly crafted and a perfect length. I’ve only owned this for a few weeks and it’s already the 8th most played album in my bandcamp collection, which contains almost 500 releases. So, yeah, pick this up immediately.