Avgrunden – ‘Den Fördömda Jorden’ [Review]

Vast and meditative, the sequel to last year’s ‘Gremorian Chants’ makes good on what you figured Avgrunden was all into – Sunn, Sleep, Popol Vuh, Faust – while pushing this canon in additional (if hardly shocking) directions to swallow up some neighboring territories with smarts and aplomb.  Showing a progressive knack for krautisms which motivate the sound of ‘Den Fördömda Jorden’ to be tall as it is wide, the title track and “I De Förtorkade Benens Dal” (together totaling 30 minutes) both feature the band’s incarnation as a quartet in full-effect, making overt comparisons while blending twangy Earth drones into iron-clad Hawkwind stadium bangers.  Mainstay riffs ebb and flow with a deep tonic, percussion surges like a man in a box, leaving tiny dents on every surface, vibraphone tags along in a perpetual drizzle.  This is the spiritual core of the disc.  Yet there remains so much more the band wants to explore, and the composition of the album suggests all the ambition Victor Granat has to move this project further.  The first quarter-hour (“Norrsken”) reprises the celestial-sick doom riff of ‘Chants’: over an echo of nodding electrics, the rich saw like cello evokes Gareth Davis, DAAU, and the ubiquitous melodrama of a black metal “prologue”.  Conversely, the closing pairing of “Dödens Väntrum/Järtecken” amplifies a single, 20-minute storm of a riff into a bloozy ballad with a clean-strum waltz  around a saloon piano.  This construction of the tracks seems to fortify the central premise which the band guard from the listener like a gem or a spell, that is the brief (by comparison) central track, a dedication to Crazy Horse (both of them), a rare intersection of native-Americana as a simple chant/shanty, swirled in a heavy haze of sooty black drones in the foreground, and the cool cry of metal figures beyond the clearing.  Nestled within the intense repetition of the psych-stoner rock link, this vision of clarity re-grounds the entire enterprise in a tragic cry for ethics in song amidst the appeal of aesthetics, inversion, and dissociation.  The feud is hard fought, and has been for years.  For the historians, ‘Den Fördömda Jorden’ should be a notable campaign.  CDr comes in a water-colored paper sleeve.  Recommended.

self-released CDr

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