I have to admit that my knowledge of Icelandic Metal bands is fairly limited and with this in mind it’s fair to say that I can at least avoid comparing Auðn to a host of other native Black Metal bands.
Despite the Icelandic language barrier providing limitations in truly understanding the lyrical subject matter of the album, there is no problem understanding the sentiment delivered in the performance.
Musically, purists will be treated to a standard bass, guitar, drums and vocal line-up without the addition of keys, synths and over-emphasis on reverb effects to produce atmosphere within their material. Whilst I won’t deny that I enjoy the layering of high-quality synth pads and leads, or an orchestra if the budget allows, I do admire any band, Auðn included, who can produce a dark, ominous mood without the need for all the bells and whistles and I much prefer the core instrument approach than a band spoiling their sound by using cheap, outdated keyboard sounds.
The majority of the album leans more towards a mid-tempo pace than relentless blistering, visceral shrills and screams. This choice of a slower-than-expected pace allows the songs some creative breathing room, resulting in a more mature, less in-your-face approach and methodically crafted structure, whilst not abandoning its core black metal sound.
The mellow interludes part way through the songs are very enjoyable and allow a break from the clattering drums and simplistic tremolo guitar, making way for a demonstration of wonderfully intricate guitar work.
The choice of including of a live bonus track to round off the album is a welcome one. The recording is of a high standard and captures the natural acoustics of the live environment extremely well. I found myself closing my eyes and imagining myself watching them at a small well-renowned venue like Camden Underworld, as it has that same acoustic vibe to it.
Whilst the material is technically proficient, it’s not exactly fresh or groundbreaking. The mix is well-balanced and professionally produced without losing the visceral, raw edge that Black Metal is synonymous for.
In essence, Auðn’s self-titled album delivers honest, high-quality and well-crafted Black Metal without any of the theatrics and pretence. If you’re a fan of the genre and your preferences lean towards a pure sound, this will be a worthy addition to your collection, but if you’re looking for something that explores new ideas, this probably isn’t the album for you.
Favourite track: Landvaettur