Aurvandil – Yearning (Eisenwald Records)

Friday, 22nd March 2013
Rating: 9/10

Aurvandil’s Yearning is one of those “Where have you been the last five years?” black metal albums. And yeah, black metal has been a lot of places in this span of time (still waiting on a good “aquatic” BM band, though), it always comes back to its atmospheric, raw, and primitive roots, something this album has in spades. There’s no dull moment here, no getting sidetracked, and no fucking around. As evidenced by our generous rating, it’s 2011’s best black metal entry.

The success of Yearning boils down to its climate, one that is as icy as a Northern winter (burr!), yet is marked by a series of high-octane melodies that feel like daggers through the heart. The bulk of the album winds through a series of classic 90’s BM textures, picking and grabbing at the various nuggets of knowledge Emperor, Burzum, and Viking-era Enslaved left behind. In fact, it’s the riff templates of each that Aurvandil captures and adheres to strictly, thus elevating the domineering and simply majestic “A Guide To Northern Scapes” to heights rarely seen in today’s black metal scene. If one can’t get behind the riff sequence starting at 2:23 to 3:34, then yee are without a soul.

Crisp riff patterns highlight “End of An Age,” while the aforementioned melodic front gets at it full-bore on “Reign Of Ice I.” Acoustic guitars give “Walking – Interlude” and “Reign of Ice II” the necessary breathing room to work with the album’s all-out assault, especially “Reign of Ice II,” which has the bravado of early Bathory, but with more reliance on the extreme. Once the climax is hit on “Reaching – Finale,” Aurvandil’s work has been accomplished – they’ve effectively overpowered the BM scene.

Black metal circa 2011 is such a congealed mess that an album like Yearning is one to be savored. This is a truly significant release, one that effectively channels everything that is good and just about black metal. To compound what we said above, there’s no trickery, no symphonic side-show, and no phony lyrical stance…Aurvandil are the real deal.

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