Lose Yourself with Hamferð’s “Tamsins Likam”

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*Long, long time ago on an island Faroe Faroe away

I first came across Hamferð when they won the 2012 Wacken Metal Battle, at the time they only had released an EP, Vilst er síðsta fet, a righteous half-an-hour recording. The follow-up, Evst, couldn’t quite hold up to the expectations of its predecessor. It’s been five long years since, and Jon Aldara, Hamferd’s vocalist, has risen in relative fame after replacing Mikko Kotamäki in the Finnish deathproggers Barren Earth, as well as further employed himself in the international atmospheric doom metal collective Clouds, led by Toilet-friend Deha. Hamferd has also (once again) changed bassists, and signed to Metal Blade – further building up the hype and expectations for what’s to come. Yet with signing to a label even as big as Metal Blade is, often comes the danger of compromising character, a mortal flaw in the case of a band so idiosyncratic in the metal scene.

Their brand of “Faroese doom metal” is an amalgamation of death and doom, with a heavy emphasis on the latter. There’s no shortage of emotional weight or heft here, but the songs more often move through atmospheric, clean sections towards heavier, wistful tones- guitarists Kapnas and Egholm weaving their harmony without unison. Here and there raw dirges of deathy chugs break out ‘neath Aldara’s growl, reminding of the band’s more extreme half, soon to fade as the show’s true star – Aldara’s singing voice breaks out. His recognizable vocals aren’t the only thing that give Hamferd it’s unique character though, and perhaps of them, least in danger of compromising. Throughout the record, Faroese folklore, history and language come together in a manner most grim, to conclude a trilogy, as Tamsins Likam – or The Body Of The Mist, explores mortality and the perverting nature of loss.

Tamsins Likam remains largely monochromatic, but knowing this the band has arranged a small treat into every song, whether it be choir, a cello, a grand piano or outright wandering into a world where Katatonia still reigns supreme, these never form the focal points of a song, but add that extra bit of personality into each song. A personal favourite appears in “Stygd”, where the band proves their compositional prowess. The scarcity of the arrangement would easily make for a rigid structure and slip into funeral territories – but instead Remi Johannesen’s langurous performance lets the rhythm go at it’s own pace and volition. Not entirely dissimilar, though further drawn, to what Bill Ward accomplished on Black Sabbath’s titular track, largely responsible for it’s well-noted, ominous atmosphere.

Of all the doom albums that will come out this year, Tamsins Likam will not be the riffiest, although it bears saying that the fact did not seem to bother many when Eroded Corridors of Unbeing came into question, but it is one of the best. Crunchy guitars, ponderous bass and clear drumming that remains balanced in the ensemble, neither burying itself under the string nor being triggered to filter out all else leave Tamsins Likam sounding appropriately great. I do not know, and even doubt, if this is the best album Hamferd will make, but it is hard to believe it could have been better

4/5 FLAMING TOILETS OV HELL

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