Nåstrond
Muspellz Synir

I thought Nåstrond was a thing of the past until I picked up the split release with Myrkr that came out last year. That put Nåstrond back on my one to watch list. I first discovered them back in 1995 when I came across them in a Full Moon catalog and figured no way I was going to pass up a band named for a beach covered in corpses gnawed on by a dragon. Two albums on Napalm later I lost track of them, turns out they had a third self released limited run full length, and now this, Muspellz Synir, is their fourth. I’d say they changed a lot since the mid 90’s but in reality the Myrkr split is most definitely their characteristic eccentric style so when I popped in the new promo I was a bit taken aback.

Where are the bombastic elements, the clean backing vocals, the narration, the heavy keyboard atmospherics? I kept hoping for the deep baritone voice. If, for shame, you are new to Nåstrond and have already heard this disk, at this point you would be wondering what my fussing is about, this is a damn intense album, and it is, but I preferred the eccentric. There is still a link to the band’s stellar past on tracks like “Agios” and “Ior” and “Passing Beyond Light”, and the true black metal parts are still as off kilter as ever, so once I got past the missing clean vocals and missing the narration pieces I realized I had a similar level of satisfaction as with the above mentioned split.

It took me several listens to truly become comfortable with the new more violent harsher approach. The harshly growled but understandable vocals have got that grating of teeth vibe and the voluminous bass adds to the slow and heavy guitars. All the songs are short, fourteen of them, and I consider none of them fillers. This disc, like the ones before it, is definitely meant to be listened to in its entirety, an album listening experience, rather than chopped up into a song list, but I’ll go through some individual tracks anyway.

“Eldrök” is like a heavily loaded truck. It takes awhile to get a head of steam but by the end it is fully out of control, with dizzying guitar lines. “Agios” is a great plainchant song, something we need more of in black metal. In “Svarta Stränder (Digerdöden)” the underlying guitar lines shine through a bit more. The pace is kept by the drums but it is the range of vocal delivery that caries the song. “Ior” brings back the wave action along with a reverberating buzz. It is “Ior Rising” without the narration. “Mouth of the Sea” has more lively drumming and classic Candlemass riffs. “Passing Beyond Light” is an ambient piece that would have fit on the soundtrack of Close Encounters of the Third Kind; it brings to mind a slow flying huge spacecraft. “Nåstrond” flows about two minutes before vocals contribute and interest is not lost. This is the best paring of drums and guitars in terms of rhythm development on the album, definite head banging but at a leisurely pace, and a positive end to the album. Occult ritualistic black metal worth your perusal. Listening to Nåstrond has inspired be to pull out Nagelfar’s catalog, especially Hünengrab im Herbst, for tomorrow’s enjoyment.

Debemur Morti Productions needs thanks for releasing this disc, and Moribund for distributing it to North America. A final note, if any of you have Celebration of the Four I would love a copy.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
August 6th, 2008

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