Askrinn - Hjørleifsljóð - (6/10)
Published on December 20, 2014
Genre:Power / Black
French pagan black metal is not exactly a very common occurrence. Sure, there’s a wealth of bands populating the folk and celtic (black) metal fields, but the more straight-up pagan black does not seem to have made its grand entrance into La Republique.
Enter one-man project Askrinn (Icelandic for “ash”) and his debut Hjørleifsljóđ and his attempt to instill some Icelandic-influenced life into the scene. The success of it remains to be seen, though, since the 34-minute album stumbles over a few obstacles that mostly can be attributed to a lack of experience.
Hjørleifsljóđ is firmly built on a black metal foundation, Nordic school, and branching out from it with varied rhythms, acoustic guitars and and some light pagan melodies, but it is the high speed approach of many of these black metal influences that in the end cast an unwanted shadow of generic steamrolling over the album.
The accents and and ideas are good and the rhythmic variety greatly aids their cause, be it the powerful intensity of “Bjarmalandsfør Hjørleifs konungs”, the dynamic tempo changes of “Hjørleifr mægðist við Hreiðar konung” or the Bornholm cover “Hymn to the Forgotten Pagan Gods”, but the often relentless high speed and very generic rasps and croaks hurt Askrinn’s endeavours to endear their tunes to a wider audience.
Given that Hjørleifsljóđ is a debut, some of the shortcomings are forgivable, to take the next step, Valenten has to continue to expand on on his base sound and continue to veer away from being content with adding some accents to a sound that has been done to death and come into his own.