Album Premiere: Åskog — Varþnaþer

Åskog album cover featuring a carrion bird eating a dead wolf.

From the wilds of Western Sweden, black metallers Åskog emerge with their first full-length, Varþnaþer.

Forming from the ashes of the duo’s previous act, Murdryck, Åskog (pronounced like OAH-skoog) formed last summer and quickly put out a demo, Varg (no, not that one; it means “wolf”). Murdryck started as a dark ambient act, and this understanding of how to create a sinister atmosphere is evident throughout Varþnaþer.

Though both Åskog and Murdryck’s music operates largely in the mode of traditional Scandinavian black metal, a lot of what sets the two projects apart is focus and tone. Where Murdryck’s albums have the standard “chilliness” that has become almost rote among more dogmatic BM bands, Åskog’s production drips with the humidity of the living forest. The entire album was mixed and mastered by Adam Chapman, one half of the two-piece, and he’s gotten results. Particularly on tracks like “Varg” (also found on the demo of the same name), the music feels close, even warm. Since the album is about cycles of life as they play out in nature, this enveloping feeling is a nice memento mori. Doomier elements and soaring guitar lines add to the ominousness, and the record’s pace becomes more deliberate by the final track, like moving from new growth into an ancient stand of gnarled trees. The band describes it thus:

Varþnaþer is an ode to the duality of nature—good and evil. The music follows this dichotomy with heavy, chaotic parts or slower, melodic—sometimes ambient—moments. There are twists and turns, which keeps the listener on their toes, never sure what to expect next.

Get lost in the woods with Åskog below:

Don’t forget your axe. Varþnaþer is out May 12th on Bandcamp via Leviaphonic Records, on CD via Grind to Death Records. Vinyl and cassette released by Corrupted Flesh Records should land on 25th June. You can also follow Åskog on Facebook.

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