Grift
Syner

I moved from the US to Scandinavia last year, and as we head into our second winter here, I understand why so much dark and depressing music comes out of the region: it gets dark and depressing. By mid-December, it’s dark until 9am, gray all day, and dark again at 3:30. And we’re in Southern Denmark – you can imagine how much more bleak and consuming the darkness gets as you travel further north. Some folks light candles to ward off the gloom (Danish houses are painted white inside for a good reason); others embrace the darkness. Lucky for me that I’ve just discovered Sweden’s Grift, as its brand of melancholy and doomy black metal is perfect for the approaching season.

Grift – a one-man project from mastermind Erik Gärdefors – takes the haunting, peaceful lonely character of early Burzum or Ulver and shapes it into laments with a richer sonic palette, though the overall effect is still stripped-down. Tremolo carries the melody, but it’s not thin, reedy, or buzzy – it sounds smoothed and burnished to the point where it could be a choral voice from a synth, yet totally organic. Bass and steady, speedy drumming are balanced and fully present in the mix below that. The vocals also recall the howls from Burzum or In the Woods…, but they’re delivered from a lower register, more like Master’s Hammer but with the same tortured yowls and cries you know from Aske. The howls may be the breaking point for some of you, but I love them – they have so much more character than a monochromatic rasp.

Songs are impeccable and although the entire album has been designed as a complete experience, none are homogenous or ambient. There’s enough variety to engage your attention. You’ll settle in and get carried away, and then the occasional solo or brief appearance by piano or harmonium will rise up and catch your notice for a moment. Openers “Aftonlandet” and “Svältorna” and the closer “Eremiten Esaisas” carry sweetly despondent melodies atop thunderous rhythmic currents, while “Det bortvända ansiktet” is a more skeletal and simpler dirge. I usually get bored with spoken word/ambient interludes like “Slutet hav,” but the creaky harmonium and layered, building atmosphere kept me floating along. “Undergörare” is much more relaxed and airy than the two openers, and is carried by strummed acoustic guitars and unhurried martial drumming.

The entire effect of Syner is like a long, thoughtful walk in the woods, and the booklet features photos and drawings of the mountain close to Gärdefors’ home, so his intent was successful. Bedroom black metal this is not, so my advice to you is to take this out of the house and find your own mountain, forest, or miserable rain-sodden hovel so that you can properly enjoy this.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
October 30th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: gordeth

    Great writeup! I’ll definitely be picking this up. His previous EP and split were both great too.


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