French one man band Askrinn’s latest album is based on a 14th century Icelandic Saga, and is performed in Old Norse. The band categorizes itself as Pagan Black Metal in the vein of Arckanum, and there is truth in that, although the style of Arckanum is a bit more organic and Punky in my opinion, but the overall style is pretty much the same. Which means we are dealing with quite primitive, raw and fast Black Metal here, with little influences from other music styles.
The guitars are very nineties-sounding, melodic, and the bass is nicely mixed and audible. There are quite little folky-riffs here, besides the final song on the album which is a skillfully executed Bornholm-cover, but still the music has that Pagan feeling somehow, in the way that old Burzum would have the ancient woodsy feeling. Nice acoustic parts here and there bring more of that ancient feeling to the music.
The biggests stumbling stone of the music is probably the machine drums, which do manage to sound quite organic in sounds, but the machine-like feeling is evident. However there have been many “Pagan” bands with machine drums such as Forefather, and if you happen to like the earlier stuff of that particular band, you probably won’t mind the machines on this release.
The vocals remind a bit of Arckanum as well, being very harsh and reverberating, which I like very much. The whole album manages to sound cold and warm at the same time, and the cover-art fits the music perfectly. I would imagine listening to this while walking on the seashore on a stormy autumn evening.
This is definitely Black Metal made in the comforts of ones own home, in front of the computer, and not in the rehearsal room, but it matters little since this material is full of feeling. This will probably appeal to fans of Arckanum, and to those into general nineties Black Metal sounds and feelings, plus the usual Pagan feeling of bands like Falkenbach. With real drums I would give higher points to this otherwise very promising band very skilled in creating Black Metal art!
7.5/10 – Antti Mikonmäki